A Collection of Random Clippings

“I pity Simplicio no less than I should some gentleman, who, having built a magnificent palace at great trouble and expense, employing myriads of artisans, and the seeing it threatened with ruin because of poor foundations, should attempt, in order to avoid the sad sight of walls destroyed, adorned as they were with so many lovely murals; or columns fall, which support the superb galleries, or gilded beams collapse, or doors, pediments and marble cornices, supplied at so much cost, spoiled – should attempt to prevent the collapse with chains, props, buttresses, iron bars and shores”. – Galileo’s Dialogue

“That is why, as soon as I reached an age that allowed me to escape the control of my teachers, I abandoned altogether the study of letters. And having decided to pursue only that knowledge which I might find in myself or in the great book of the world, I spent the rest of my youth travelling, visiting courts and armies, mixing with people of different character and rank, accumulating different experiences, putting myself to the test in situations in which I found myself by chance, and at all times giving due reflection to things as they presented themselves to me so as to derive some benefit from them. For it seemed to me that I could discover much more truth from the reasoning that we all make about things that affect us and will soon cause us harm if we misjudge them, than from the speculations in which a scholar engages in the privacy of his study, that have no consequence for him insofar as the further they are from common sense, the more he will be proud of them, because he has had to use so much more ingenuity and subtlety in the struggle to make them plausible”. – Descartes A Discourse on the Method

“And although logic really does contain many very true and excellent precepts, there are some many others mixed in with them that are either harmful or superfluous, that it is almost as difficult to separate the former from the latter as it is to extract a statue of Diana or Minerva from a rough block of marble”. – Descartes A Discourse on the Method

“Never accept anything to be true that I did not incontrovertibly know to be so; that is to say, carefully to avoid both prejudice and premature conclusions; and to include nothing in my judgements other than that which presented itself to my mind so clearly and distinctly, that I would have no occasion to doubt it. The second was to divide all the difficulties under examination into as many parts as possible, and as many as were required to solve them in the best way. The third was to conduct my thoughts in a given order, beginning with the simplest and most easily understood objects, and gradually ascending, as it were step by step, to the knowledge of the most complex; and positing an order even on those which do not have a natural order of precedence. The last was to undertake such enumerations and such general surveys that I would be sure to have left nothing out”. Descartes A Discourse on the Method

“I imitated those travellers who, finding themselves lost in a forest, must not wander in circles first to one side and then the other, and still less stop in one place, but have to walk as straight as possible in one direction, and not alter course for weak reasons, even if it might only have been chance which lead them to settle on the direction they had chosen; for by this means, even if they do not end up precisely where they want to be, they will eventually reach somewhere where they will most likely be better off than in the middle of a forest”. Descartes
A Discourse on the Method


One Response to A Collection of Random Clippings

  1. Mathias says:

    Great quotes, thank you! I had forgotten how good Descartes was. And the Galileo quote is nicely relevant to software development.

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