Quotes on Knowledge
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118. Knowledge; Learning
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
Boswell: Life
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361. Knowledge
"Much is due to those who first broke the way to knowledge, and left only to their successors the task of smoothing it."
Johnson: Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland
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363. Experience; Knowledge
"It is true that of far the greater part of things, we must content ourselves with such knowledge as description may exhibit, or analogy supply; but it is true likewise, that these ideas are always incomplete, and that at least, till we have compared them with realities, we do not know them to be just. As we see more, we become possessed of more certainties, and consequently gain more principles of reasoning, and found a wider base of analogy."
Johnson: Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland
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442. Knowledge
"Man is not weak. ... Knowledge is more than equivalent to force. The master of mechanics laughs at strength."
Johnson: Rasselas [Imlac]
Note: If you haven't read it yet, please read this note of caution regarding quotes from Rasselas.
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472. History; Knowledge
"To know anything ... we must know its effects; to see men we must see their works that we may learn what reason has dictated, or passion has incited, and find what are the most powerful motives of action. To judge rightly of the present, we must oppose it to the past; for all judgment is comparative, and of the future nothing can be known. The truth is, that no mind is much employed upon the present: recollection and anticipation fill up almost all our moments. Our passions are joy and grief, love and hatred, hope and fear. Of joy and grief the past is the object, and the future hope and fear; even love and hatred respect the past, for the cause must have been before the effect."
Johnson: Rasselas [Imlac]
Note: If you haven't read it yet, please read this note of caution regarding quotes from Rasselas.
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489. Knowledge; Scruples
"Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful."
Johnson: Rasselas [the Astronomer]
Note: If you haven't read it yet, please read this note of caution regarding quotes from Rasselas.
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496. Knowledge; Learning; Patience
"Men advanced far in knowledge do not love to repeat the elements of their art."
Johnson: Rasselas [Imlac]
Note: If you haven't read it yet, please read this note of caution regarding quotes from Rasselas.
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511. Knowledge
"Other things may be seized by might, or purchased with money, but knowledge is to be gained only by study, and study to be prosecuted only in retirement."
Johnson: Rambler #7 (April 10, 1750)
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534. Knowledge
"Men more frequently require to be reminded than informed."
Johnson: Rambler #2 (March 24, 1750)
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866. Knowledge; Learning
"Though it is evident, that not more than one age or people can deserve the censure of being more averse from learning than any other, yet at all times knowledge must have encountered impediments, and wit been mortified with contempt, or harassed with persecution."
Johnson: Rambler #77 (December 11, 1750)
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935. Animals; Knowledge
"A man who thinks only on the particular object before him, goes not away much illuminated by having enjoyed the privilege of handling the tooth of a shark, or the paw of a white bear; yet there is nothing more worthy of admiration to a philosophical eye than the structure of animals, by which they are qualified to support life in the elements or climates to which they are appropriated; and of all natural bodies it must be generally confessed, that they exhibit evidences of infinite wisdom, bear their testimony to the supreme reason, and excite in the mind new raptures of gratitude and incentives to piety."
Johnson: Rambler #83 (January 1, 1751)
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1,069. Extravagance; Knowledge
"The desire for knowledge, though often animated by extrinsic and adventitious motives, seems on many occasions to operate without subordination to any other principle; we are eager to see and hear, without intention of referring our observations to a further end; we climb a mountain for a prospect of the plain; we run to the strand in a storm, that we may contemplate the agitation of the water; we range from city to city, though we profess neither architecture nor fortification; we cross seas only to view nature in nakedness, or magnificence in ruins; we are equally allured by novelty of every kind, by a desert or a palace, a cataract or a cavern, by every thing rude and every thing polished, every thing great and every thing little; we do not see a thicket but with some temptation to enter it, or remark an insect flying before us but with an inclination to pursue it."
Johnson: Rambler #103 (March 12, 1751)
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1,071. Knowledge
"The number of such as live without the ardour of inquiry is very small, though many content themselves with cheap amusements, and waste their lives in researches of no importance."
Johnson: Rambler #103 (March 12, 1751)
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1,128. Arrogance; Knowledge
"Vulgar and inactive minds confound familiarity with knowledge, and conceive themselves informed of the whole nature of things, when they are shown their form or told their use."
Johnson: Idler #32 (November 25, 1752)
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1,129. Knowledge; Speculation
"The specualtist, who is not content with superficial views, harasses himself with fruitless curiosity; and still, as he inquires more, perceives only that he knows less."
Johnson: Idler #32 (November 25, 1752)
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1,396. Knowledge; Reading
"Knowledge is praised and desired by multitudes whom her charms could never rouse from the couch of sloth; whom the faintest invitation of pleasure draws away from their studies; to whom any other method of wearing the day is more eligible than the use of books, and who are more easily engaged by any conversation than such as may rectify their notions or enlarge their comprehension."
Johnson: Rambler #178 (November 30, 1751)
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1,558. Knowledge; Teaching
"To understand the works of celebrated authors, to comprehend their systems, and retain their reasonings, is a task more than equal to common intellects; and he is by no means to be accounted useless or idle, who has stored his mind with acquired knowledge, and can detail it occasionally to others who have less leisure or weaker abilities."
Johnson: Adventurer #85 (August 28, 1753)
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1,559. Knowledge
"Persius has justly observed, that knowledge is nothing to him who is not known by others to possess it: to the scholar himself it is nothing with respect either to honour or advantage, for the world cannot reward those qualities which are concealed from it; with respect to others it is nothing, because it affords no help to ignorance or errour."
Johnson: Adventurer #85 (August 28, 1753)
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1,566. Knowledge; Power
"All knowledge is of itself of some value. There is nothing so minute or inconsiderable, that I would not rather know it than not. In the same manner, all power, of whatever sort, is of itself desirable. A man would not submit to learn to hem a ruffle, of his wife, or his wife's maid; but if a mere wish could attain it, he would rather wish to be able to hem a ruffle.
Boswell: Life of Johnson
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1,796. Knowledge; Learning (Practicality)
"Between falsehood and useless truth there is little difference. As gold which he cannot spend will make no man rich, so knowledge which he cannot apply will make no man wise."
Johnson: Idler #84 (November 24, 1759)
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