It is generally believed that scientific talent reveals itself in early youth. [...] This was certainly not my case. I somehow slid into my scientific profession. My mother wished for me to become a physician, just like my father. [...] I myself wanted to be a lawyer, defender of the unjustly accused. But my career is the result of political circumstances, academic possibilities, and lucky accidents.
When I looked at the conduct of the whites who were called Christians, and saw them drunk, quarreling, and fighting, cheating the poor Indians, and acting as if there was no God, I was led to think there could be no truth in the white man's religion, and felt inclined to fall back again to my old superstitions.
If only there were a lexicographer of Liang Shih-ch'iu's ability who also had the perspicuity to arrange his dictionary by sound rather than radical! … No wonder most of us are so sour and gray by the time we reach fifty! The amount of time consumed and the spirit expended in this sort of meaningless, not to mention destructive, type of activity is beyond calculation.
We are not so naive as some think of us; we do not believe that a neutral base will turn men into angels; we know quite well that the people who are evil will still be evil; but we believe that communication and relationships based on a neutral base will at least do away with the great mass of brutality and crimes which are caused not by ill will, but simply by mutual misunderstandings and impositions.
A physical system is just that: a physical system. What is systematized is matter itself, and the processes in which the system is realized are also material. But a biological system is more complex: it is both biological and physical — it is matter with the added component of life; and a social system is more complex still: it is physical, and biological, with the added component of social order, or value. … A semiotic system is still one step further in complexity: it is physical, and biological, and social —and also semiotic: what is being systematized is meaning. In evolutionary terms, it is a system of the fourth order of complexity