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Celia Green

  • Research is a way of taking calculated risks to bring about incalculable consequences.

  • The way to do research is to attack the facts at the point of greatest astonishment.

  • The psychology of committees is a special case of the psychology of mobs.

  • The only important thing to realise about history is that it all took place in the last five minutes.

  • In an autocracy, one person has his way; in an aristocracy, a few people have their way; in a democracy, no one has his way.

  • The human race's favorite method for being in control of facts is to ignore them.

  • The charms of money are distinctly under-represented in literature. There are no songs or poems extolling its virtues. This seems on the face of it strange. The claims of money to be celebrated in verse might well seem to be no less than those of faithful dogs, beautiful women, or jugs of wine.

  • Physics has never been a comfortable subject for human psychology. The desire to regard everything outside the human race's purview as insignificant, and everything within that purview as firmly under the control of tribal myth and custom, is as strong today as it was in the time of Galileo.

  • The chief difficulty of modern theoretical physics resides not in the fact that it expresses itself almost exclusively in mathematical symbols, but in the psychological difficulty of supposing that complete nonsense can be seriously promulgated and transmitted by persons who have sufficient intelligence of some kind to perform operations in differential and integral calculus ...

  • People having religions is an insult to the universe.

  • People have been marrying and bringing up children for centuries now. Nothing has ever come of it.

  • Lack of clarity is always a sign of dishonesty.

  • That society exists to frustrate the individual may be seen from its attitude to work. It is only morally acceptable if you do not want to do it. If you do want to, it becomes a personal pleasure.

  • It is easier to study the 'behavior' of rats than people, because rats are smaller and have fewer outside commitments. So modern psychology is mostly about rats

  • The remarkable thing about the human kind is its range of limitations.

  • Only the impossible is worth attempting. In everything else one is sure to fail.

  • It is inconceivable that anything should be existing. It is not inconceivable that a lot of people should also be existing who are not interested in the fact that they exist. But it is certainly very odd.

  • If you stand up to the human race you lose something called their 'goodwill'; if you kowtow to them you gain ... their permission to continue kowtowing.

  • Society expresses its sympathy for the geniuses of the past to distract attention from the fact that it has no intention of being sympathetic to the geniuses of the present.

  • When people talk about 'the sanctity of the individual' they mean 'the sanctity of the statistical norm.'

  • It is curious that while one's education is the part of one's life over the conditions of which one has least individual control, the results of it are held to brand one irrevocably.

  • In the universe there is room for an infinite series of beginnings.

  • You can never possess anything finite; that only leaves the infinite.

  • There is nothing so risky as security.

  • Children need admiration rather than affection.

  • The human race wished me to accept the limitations with which it had thoughtfully provided me.

  • The fact that everyone emotionally believes this [their own survival of death] is totally independent of any view on the matter which they may openly profess. It is clear that everyone is behaving as though they are going to live forever. This is the only way in which their lack of any sense of urgency can be made comprehensible. And, furthermore, they do not believe that ageing is an irreversible process. Emotionally they regard it as a temporary episode.

  • Risk-taking is intrinsic to existential psychology; it is also intrinsic to mental activity, which is doubtless why the latter is so rare.

  • It used to be regarded as a theological problem that God could be indifferent to the continuance of human suffering. What is really remarkable is that the human race can be.

  • The horror is that nobody is seeing the horror.

  • Prayer is the final dishonesty. You commune with your own psychology and obtain its whole-hearted approval.

Celia Green, English psychophysicist, philosophical scepticist

(1935)

Full name: Celia Elizabeth Green. This is one of my all-time favorite books.