Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What can we know . . .

Today is the birthday of Immanuel Kant, philosopher, and J. Robert Oppenheimer, physicist.

Immanuel Kant (April 22, 1724 – February 12, 1804), is considered by many as one of the most influential philosophers in the history of Western philosophy. A great portion of his writings address the question "What can we know?" and The Critique of Pure Reason is oft cited as his most important work, his masterpiece.

"He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant

"If man makes himself a worm he must not complain when he is trodden on." - Immanuel Kant

"Always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end." - Immanuel Kant

"There can be no doubt that all our knowledge begins with experience." - Immanuel Kant

"All human knowledge begins with intuitions, proceeds from thence to concepts, and ends with ideas." - Immanuel Kant

"All the interests of my reason, speculative as well as practical, combine in the three following questions: 1. What can I know? 2. What ought I to do? 3. What may I hope?" - Immanuel Kant

"Morality is not properly the doctrine of how we may make ourselves happy, but how we may make ourselves worthy of happiness." - Immanuel Kant

"Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me." - Immanuel Kant

"To be is to do." - Immanuel Kant


Julius Robert Oppenheimer (April 22, 1904 – February 18, 1967), physicist, best known as the scientific director of the Manhattan Project.

"We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita... "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." I suppose we all thought that, one way or another." - J. Robert Oppenheimer

"If atomic bombs are to be added as new weapons to the arsenals of a warring world, or to the arsenals of the nations preparing for war, then the time will come when mankind will curse the names of Los Alamos and Hiroshima. The people of this world must unite or they will perish." - J. Robert Oppenheimer

"The open society, the unrestricted access to knowledge, the unplanned and uninhibited association of men for its furtherance - these are what may make a vast, complex, ever growing, ever changing, ever more specialized and expert technological world, nevertheless a world of human community." - J. Robert Oppenheimer

"No man should escape our universities without knowing how little he knows." - J. Robert Oppenheimer

"The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; The wise grows it under his feet." - J. Robert Oppenheimer

"Both the man of science and the man of action live always at the edge of mystery, surrounded by it." - J. Robert Oppenheimer


Kant image source (1)
Oppenheimer image source (1)

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