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Rationality Quotes 10

6 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 03 March 2008 05:48AM

"Yes, I am the last man to have walked on the moon, and that's a very dubious and disappointing honor. It's been far too long."
        -- Gene Cernan

"Man, you're no smarter than me. You're just a fancier kind of stupid."
        -- Spider Robinson, Distraction

"Each problem that I solved became a rule which served afterwards to solve other problems."
        -- Rene Descartes, Discours de la Methode

"Faith is Hope given too much credit."
        -- Matt Tuozzo

"Your Highness, I have no need of this hypothesis."
        -- Pierre-Simon Laplace, to Napoleon, explaining why his works on celestial mechanics made no mention of God.

"'For, finally, one can only judge oneself by one's actions,' thought Elric. 'I have looked at what I have done, not at what I meant to do or thought I would like to do, and what I have done has, in the main, been foolish, destructive, and with little point. Yyrkoon was right to despise me and that was why I hated him so.'"
        -- Michael Moorcock, Elric of Melniboné

"You will quickly find that if you are completely and self-deprecatingly truthful about how much you owe other people, the world at large will treat you like you did every bit of the invention yourself and are just being becomingly modest about your innate genius."
        -- Eric S. Raymond

"The longer I live the more I see that I am never wrong about anything, and that all the pains that I have so humbly taken to verify my notions have only wasted my time."
        -- George Bernard Shaw

"The trouble is that consciousness theories are very easy to dream up... Theories that explain intelligence, on the other hand, are fiendishly difficult to come by and so are profoundly useful. I don't know for sure that intelligence always produces consciousness, but I do know that if you assume it does you'll never be disappointed."
        -- John K. Clark

"Intelligence is silence, truth being invisible. But what a racket I make in declaring this."
        -- Ned Rorem, "Random Notes from a Diary"

    Presently the mage said, speaking softly, "Do you see, Arren, how an act is not, as young men think, like a rock that one picks up and throws, and it hits or misses, and that's the end of it. When that rock is lifted the earth is lighter, the hand that bears it heavier. When it is thrown the circuits of the stars respond, and where it strikes or falls the universe is changed. On every act the balance of the whole depends. The winds and seas, the powers of water and earth and light, all that these do, and all that the beasts and green things do, is well done, and rightly done. All these act within the Equilibrium. From the hurricane and the great whale's sounding to the fall of a dry leaf and the flight of a gnat, all they do is done within the balance of the whole. But we, in so far as we have power over the world and over one another, we must learn to do what the leaf and the whale and the wind do of their own nature. We must learn to keep the balance. Having intelligence, we must not act in ignorance. Having choice, we must not act without responsibility. Who am I - though I have the power to do it - to punish and reward, playing with men's destinies?"
    "But then," the boy said, frowning at the stars, "is the balance to be kept by doing nothing? Surely a man must act, even not knowing all the consequences of his act, if anything is to be done at all?"
    "Never fear. It is much easier for men to act than to refrain from acting. We will continue to do good, and to do evil... But if there were a king over us all again, and he sought counsel of a mage, as in the days of old, and I were that mage, I would say to him: My lord, do nothing because it is righteous, or praiseworthy, or noble, to do so; do nothing because it seems good to do so; do only that which you must do, and which you cannot do in any other way."
        -- Ursula K. LeGuin, The Farthest Shore

Comments (5)

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Comment author: Anna 03 March 2008 07:43:35AM 1 point [-]

Eric S. Raymond link isn't working.

Comment author: Levi 03 March 2008 02:15:18PM 0 points [-]

Anna: This archive.org mirror seems to work.

Comment author: Ping 03 March 2008 09:31:01PM 1 point [-]

I don't understand what the LeGuin excerpt has to do with rationality. Are you not writing for this blog, promoting your ideas on rationality, because "it seems good to do so"?

Comment author: Maksym_Taran2 04 March 2008 01:03:47AM 1 point [-]

Eliezer: If you have a bit of time on your hands (unlikely), you could probably write a short script that would: search all your quote files for urls check the pages they refer to for the corresponding quotes         if the page doesn't have the quote         go to the archive and repeat the same process for strategically selected pages there         (maybe binary search, to find the latest archived version) and finally replace the old defunct url with the archived one.

It would be a great time-saver, especially if you have lots more quotes up your sleeve :)

Comment author: Tom_Breton_(Tehom) 04 March 2008 01:52:50AM 0 points [-]

"Yes, I am the last man to have walked on the moon, and that's a very dubious and disappointing honor. It's been far too long." -- Gene Cernan

That doesn't seem like a pro-rationality quote to me. It has a space-y, science-y theme, which may connote rationality, but its content seems anti-rational to me.