Quotations about   wonder

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The problem is that the philosopher of today has lost his wonder, because wonder, in modern philosophy, is something you must not have; it is like enthusiasm in eighteenth-century England — it is very bad form.

Alan Watts (1915-1973) Anglo-American philosopher, writer
“The Relevance of Oriental Philosophy” (c. 1964)
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Collected in Eastern Wisdom, Modern Life, ch. 6 (2006).
Added on 5-Apr-21 | Last updated 5-Apr-21
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You see, a philosopher is a sort of intellectual yokel who gawks at things that sensible people take for granted.

Alan Watts (1915-1973) Anglo-American philosopher, writer
“The Relevance of Oriental Philosophy” (c. 1964)
    (Source)

Collected in Eastern Wisdom, Modern Life, ch. 6 (2006). Variant: "A philosopher is a sort of intellectual yokel who gawks at things, like existence, that ordinary people take for granted."
Added on 24-Mar-21 | Last updated 24-Mar-21
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“Miracles do not happen:” –‘t is plain sense,
If you italicize the present tense;
But in those days, as rare old Chaucer tells,
All Britain was fulfilled of miracles.
So, as I said, the great doors opened wide.
In rushed a blast of winter from outside,
And with it, galloping on the empty air,
A great green giant on a great green mare.

Charlton Miner Lewis (1866-1923) American scholar of English literature, author
Gawayne and the Green Knight, Canto 1 (1903)
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I like handling newborn animals. Fallen into life from an unmappable world, they are the ultimate immigrants, full of wonder and confusion.

Diane Ackerman (b. 1948) American poet, author, naturalist
The Moon by Whale Light, ch. 4 “White Lanterns” (1991)
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Added on 14-Apr-20 | Last updated 14-Apr-20
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Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Mary Oliver (1935-2019) American poet
“Sometimes,” Sec. 4, Red Bird (2008)
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Added on 3-Mar-20 | Last updated 3-Mar-20
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Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.

Mary Oliver (1935-2019) American poet
“Evidence,” sec. 1, Evidence (2009)
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Added on 11-Feb-20 | Last updated 11-Feb-20
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HAMLET: There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Hamlet, Act 1, sc. 5, l. 166 (1600)
Added on 16-Jul-15 | Last updated 16-Jul-15
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“But do you really mean, sir,” said Peter, “that there could be other worlds — all over the place, just round the corner — like that?”

“Nothing is more probable,” said the Professor, taking off his spectacles and beginning to polish them, while he muttered to himself, “I wonder what they do teach them at these schools.”

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950)
Added on 3-Dec-14 | Last updated 3-Dec-14
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There’s more magic in a baby’s first giggle than in any firestorm a wizard can conjure up, and don’t let anyone tell you any different.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Fool Moon (2001)
Added on 15-Jul-14 | Last updated 15-Jul-14
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All the works of Nature are Miracles, and nothing makes them appear otherwise but our Familiarity with them.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Prose Observations. “Nature” [ed. de Quehen (1979)]
Added on 20-Sep-11 | Last updated 13-Apr-15
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What separates me from most atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos. The fanatical atheists are like the slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who — in their grudge against traditional religion as the “opium of the masses” — cannot hear the music of the spheres. I prefer the attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and our own being. Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-American physicist
(Spurious / Synthetic)

This quotation is actually a synthesis of several Einstein quotes. It is sometimes attributed as a whole to "Science, Philosophy and Religion, A Symposium" (1941), but only a part is found there. Nor is it found at all  in the also sometimes cited "Religion and Science," New York Times Magazine (9 Nov 1930)

The "utter humility" portion is attributed as a letter from Einstein to Joseph Lewis (18 Apr 1953).  It was quoted in Walter Isaacson, Einstein (2007). The “fanatical” through “spheres” portion is in a letter (7 Aug 1941) discussing responses to his essay “Science and Religion” (1941) per Max Jammer, Einstein and Religion: Physics and Theology (1999)

The “weakness of our intellectual understanding” phrase is attributed to a letter to Guy H. Raner Jr. (28 Sep 1949), quoted in the Isaacson work as well as by Michael R. Gilmore in Skeptic, Vol. 5, No. 2.

The lame/blind phrase is attributed to a letter to Eric Gutkind (3 Jan 1954). It was earlier used by Einstein (1941) at the Symposium cited above.

This synthetic quotation is a good example of the difficulties in quoting Einstein, who is used as a polemical bludgeon by a variety of groups, and is often poorly or incorrectly cited online, compounded by his re-use the same turns of phrase multiple times in his correspondence and papers.
Added on 31-Jul-09 | Last updated 16-Mar-17
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Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one’s living at it.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-American physicist
Letter to E. Holzapfel (Mar 1951) [Einstein Archive 59-1013]
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The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. This insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it may be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms — this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong in the ranks of devoutly religious men.

Einstein - sense of the mysterious - wist_info quote

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-American physicist
“What I Believe,” Forum and Century (Oct 1930)
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Einstein crafted and recrafted his credo multiple times in this period, and specifics are often muddled by differing translations and by his reuse of certain phrases in later writing. The Forum and Century entry appears to be the earliest. Some important variants:

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery -- even if mixed with fear -- that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man.

— "The World As I See It [Mein Weltbild]" [tr. Bargmann (1954)]


The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. It was the experience of mystery -- even if mixed with fear -- that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms -- it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.

— "The World As I See It [Mein Weltbild]" [tr. Harris (1934)]


The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as all serious endeavor in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious.

[Das Schönste und Tiefste, was der Mensch erleben kann, ist das Gefühl des Geheimnisvollen. Es liegt der Religion sowie allem tieferen Streben in Kunst und Wissenschaft zugrunde. Wer dies nicht erlebt hat, erscheint mir, wenn nicht wie ein Toter, so doch wie ein Blinder. Zu empfinden, dass hinter dem Erlebbaren ein für unseren Geist Unerreichbares verborgen sei, dessen Schönheit und Erhabenheit uns nur mittelbar und in schwachem Widerschein erreicht, das ist Religiosität. In diesem Sinne bin ich religiös.]

Variant in "My Credo [Mein Glaubensbekenntnis]" (Aug 1932)


See parallel sentiments here, here, and here.
Added on 22-Aug-07 | Last updated 21-Feb-21
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