William Whewell - Truth Quotes
13 Sourced Quotes
Every failure is a step to success. Every detection of what is false directs us towards what is true: every trial exhausts some tempting form of error. Not only so; but scarcely any attempt is entirely a failure; scarcely any theory, the result of steady thought, is altogether false; no tempting form of Error is without some latent charm derived from Truth.
Advances in knowledge are not commonly made without the previous exercise of some boldness and license in guessing. The discovery of new truths requires, undoubtedly, minds careful and fertile in examining what is suggested; but it requires, no less, such as are quick and fertile in suggesting.
We unfold out of the Idea of Space the propositions of geometry, which are plainly truths of the most rigorous necessity and universality. But if the idea of space were merely collected from observation of the external world, it could never enable or entitle us to assert such propositions: it could never authorize us to say that not merely some lines, but all lines, not only have, but must have, those properties which geometry teaches. Geometry in every proposition speaks a language which experience never dares to utter; and indeed of which she but half comprehends the meaning.
We may best hope to understand the nature and conditions of real knowledge by studying the nature and conditions of the most certain and stable portions of knowledge which we already possess: and we are most likely to learn the best methods of discovering truth by examining how truths, now universally recognized, have really been discovered.