Quotations that are most pertinant to the Morphostasis Hypothesis
Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.
– Theodosius Dobzhansky, 1977
There is only one constant element in immunity, whether innate or acquired, and that is phagocytosis. The extension and importance of this factor can no longer be denied.
– Elie Metchnikoff, 1905
Immunology is an invention of the devil, who is making it up as he goes along because he's not too clear about this stuff either.. . . . . Besides, immunology is what we North Americans call a Rube Goldberg system, referring to old cartoons about how to turn on the light, for example: you trip over a footstool, thus startling the cat, who bumps into the kitchen door, which swings shut, knocking over a chair that hits the light switch . . . you get the idea. There has to be an easier way.
– Janice H Tanne, 1990
(I like the following quote because the principle can be transferred to morphogenesis+morphostasis and it would not be far from home.)
Embryology finds itself in a situation in many ways comparable to that of evolution immediately before Darwin, the requirement being not yet further data but a unifying conception of the appropriate generality to rationalise vast tracts of detailed but unconnected information. Therefore, if, as may well be the case, such a conceptual framework awaits us in embryology, we might anticipate that it will cut across traditional entrenched subject barriers. It may be surprisingly simple; it will turn out to have been amply evident in the facts for some time and will probably have been unsuspectingly alluded to by many authors in the past; it will not require, and will probably not be amenable to, any proof in terms of any single, new experiments; indeed, the underlying molecular mechanisms may remain uncertain for some time to come or may even be quite incorrectly conceived, though with no serious effects on the particular formulation of the general issues, as with Darwin's misconceptions regarding mechanisms of inheritance.
– T J Horder, 1983
In science, ..//... , novelty emerges only with difficulty, manifested by resistance, against a background provided by expectation.
Philosophers of science have repeatedly demonstrated that more than one theoretical construction can always be placed upon a given collection of data.
Probably, the single most prevalent claim advanced by the proponents of a new paradigm is that they can solve the problems that led the old one to a crisis.
From within a new theory of scientific knowledge, they (these anomalies) may instead seem very much like tautologies, statements of situations that could not conceivably have been otherwise.
– All four preceding quotes from Thomas Kuhn
Immunology has always seemed to me more a problem in philosophy than a practical science.
– F M Burnet, 1899-1965 (quote found in Fred Tauber's commentries).
As with any important scientific advance, there was initially disinterest, then scepticism and finally enthusiastic acceptance."
– Robert H Mitchell, 1992
Dykes have been burst; boundaries removed; we hardly know the old landmarks.
– D Masson, 1867
What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know, it's what we know for sure that just ain't so.
– Mark Twain, 1835-1910 (quote found in "An inconvenient truth" – Al Gore)
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
– T S Elliot, 1888-1965
Three more relevant to the morphostasis concept
A living organism . . . feeds upon negative entropy . . . Thus the device by which an organism maintains itself stationary at a fairly high level of orderliness (fairly low level of entropy) really consists in continually sucking orderliness from its environment.
– Erwin Schrödinger, 1887-1961
Evolution is the most powerful and the most comprehensive idea that has ever arisen on earth.
– Julian Huxley, 1887-1975
Nature does not make jumps.
– Carl Linnaeus, 1707-1778
And, perhaps, the epitaph
"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink."
Here are some more: most of these have appeared as "quotes of the day" in HMS Beagle
HMS Beagle was the regular magazine of the BioMedNet site that was replaced by The Scientist".
. . . since one never knows what will be the line of advance, it is always most rash to condemn what is not quite in the fashion of the moment.
– Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970
The ill and unfit choice of words wonderfully obstructs the understanding.
– Sir Francis Bacon, 1561-1626
The repetition of a catchword can hold analysis in fetters for fifty years and more.
– Benjamin N. Cardozo, 1870-1938
What really makes science grow is new ideas, including false ideas.
– Karl R. Popper, 1902-1994
We see what we want to see, and observation conforms to hypothesis.
– Bergen Evans, 1904-1978
Wind is caused by the trees waving their branches.
– Ogden Nash, 1902-1971
Knowledge is one. Its division into subjects is a concession to human weakness.
– Sir Halford John Mackinder, 1861-1947
Knowledge for the sake of understanding, not merely to prevail, that is the essence of our being.
– Vannevar Bush, 1890-1974
The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds.
– John Maynard Keynes, 1883-1946
The way to do research is to attack the facts at the point of greatest astonishment.
– Celia Elizabeth Green
Science is built up with facts, as a house is with stones. But a collection of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house.
– Jules Henri Poincaré, 1854-1912
In science one must search for ideas. If there are no ideas, there is no science. A knowledge of facts is only valuable in so far as facts conceal ideas; facts without ideas are just the sweepings of the brain and the memory.
– Vissarion Grigorievich Belinskii, 1811-1848
False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for everyone takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness.
– Charles Darwin, 1808-1882
Fundamental progress has to do with the reinterpretation of basic ideas.
– Alfred North Whitehead, 1861-1947
Your theory is crazy, but it's not crazy enough to be true.
– Niels Bohr, 1885-1962
Give me fruitful error any time, full of seeds, bursting with its own corrections. You can keep your sterile truth for yourself.
– Vilfredo Pareto, 1848-1923[comment on Kepler]
We haven't the money, so we've got to think.
– Ernest Rutherford, 1871-1937
There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
– Mark Twain, 1835-1910
Physics–envy is the curse of biology.
– Joel Cohen
The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts.
– Paul Erlich
So easy it seemed
Once found, which yet
unfound most would have
– John Milton, 1608-1674
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
– T.S. Eliot, 1888-1965
Truths that wake,
To perish never.
– William Wordsworth, 1770-1850
The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size.
– Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1809-1894
The voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new horizons, but in seeing with new eyes.
– Marcel Proust, 1871-1922
There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world; and that is an idea whose time has come.
– Victor Hugo, 1802-1885
If you can look into the seeds of time,
And say which grain will grow and which will not,
Speak then to me . . .
– William Shakespeare, 1564-1616[from Macbeth, (I, iii)]
It is a matter of perfect indifference where a thing originated; the only question is: "Is it true in and for itself?"
– G. W. F. Hegel, 1770-1831
New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.
– John Locke, 1623-1704
A man with a new idea is a crank until he succeeds.
– Mark Twain, 1835-1910
It is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions.
– T.H. Huxley, 1825-1895
I hear you say "Why?" Always "Why?" You see things; and you say "Why?" But I dream things that never were; and I say "Why not?"
– George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950
All great truths begin as blasphemies.
– George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950
Biologists can be just as sensitive to heresy as theologians.
– H.G. Wells, 1866-1946]
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
– Max Planck, 1858-1947
Don't bite my finger – look where it's pointing.
– Warren S. McCulloch, 1898-1969
Hell! There ain't no rules around here! We are tryin' to accomplish somep'n!
– Thomas Edison, 1847-1931
When a thing was new people said, "It is not true." Later, when its truth became obvious, people said, "Anyway, it is not important," and when its importance could not be denied, people said, "Anyway, it is not new."
– William James, 1842-1910
Every great scientific truth goes through three stages. First, people say it conflicts with the Bible. Next they say it had been discovered before. Lastly they say they always believed it.
– Louis Agassiz, 1807-1873
[Jeffrey Shallit has written a fun article on the origin of the two previous quotes with Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) being one of the first to have "the three stages" attributed to him – perhaps erroneously. The article is "Science, Pseudoscience, and The Three Stages of Truth" and available as a pdf here .]
I don't believe any experiment until it is confirmed by theory. [Comment: I find this is a witty inversion of "conventional" wisdom.]
– Arthur Eddington
A model is a lie that helps you see the truth.
– Howard Skipper, 1915-2006
In every field, there are things that are considered important or influential. It's very much fashion-based – a field becomes popular because certain people are working on it, or it happens to be moving quickly, or it connects to other things. The structure of what people choose to research is built out of aesthetic judgments.
– Emma Murphy, 2023
Originality is nothing but judicious imitation.
Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.
– Voltaire (François Marie Arouet), 1694-1778
Finally, another from Metchnikoff
In the same way that plants will not grow on soil that lacks some substance indispensable to their growth, so microbes, these microscopic plants which cause infectious disease, are unable to grow in an organism which does not give them all the substances they need.
– Ilya Metchnikoff quotation from the Nobel lecture, 1908