Albert Einstein Quotes

“A happy man is too satisfied with the present to dwell too much on the future.”

– Albert Einstein – “My Future Plans” an essay written at age 17 for school exam (18 September 1896)

“Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”

– 1901

“If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German and Germany will declare that I am a Jew.”

– [Einstein Archive 36-378]

“I am by heritage a Jew, by citizenship a Swiss, and by makeup a human being, and only a human being, without any special attachment to any state or national entity whatsoever.”

Letter to Alfred Kneser (7 June 1918); Doc. 560 in The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein Vol. 8

“I am neither a German citizen, nor do I believe in anything that can be described as a “Jewish faith.” But I am a Jew and glad to belong to the Jewish people, though I do not regard it in any way as chosen.”

Letter to Central Association of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith, 3 [5] April 1920.

Subtle is the Lord, but malicious He is not.

Remark made during Einstein’s first visit to Princeton University.

“In science, moreover, the work of the individual is so bound up with that of his scientific predecessors and contemporaries that it appears almost as an impersonal product of his generation.”

From the story “The Progress of Science” in The Scientific Monthly edited by J. McKeen Cattell (June 1921), Vol. XII, No. 6.

“May they not forget to keep pure the great heritage that puts them ahead of the West: the artistic configuration of life, the simplicity and modesty of personal needs, and the purity and serenity of the Japanese soul.”

Comment made after a six-week trip to Japan in November-December 1922.

“Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the “old one.” I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice.”

Letter to Max Born (4 December 1926);

A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving…

(My World-view) (1931)

“Whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use. It is the theory which decides what can be observed.”

Objecting to the placing of observables at the heart of the new quantum mechanics, during Heisenberg’s 1926 lecture at Berlin

Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in point of fact, religious.

Quoted The Diary of a Cosmopolitan (1971) by H. G. Kessler

“I believe in Spinoza’s God, Who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God Who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.”

-The New York Times 25 April 1929

“If A is success in life, then A = x + y + z. Work is x, play is y and z is keeping your mouth shut.”

Said to Samuel J Woolf, Berlin, Summer 1929.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”

Letter to his son Eduard (5 February 1930),

“To punish me for my contempt of authority, Fate has made me an authority myself.”

Aphorism for a friend (18 September 1930)

“I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.”

(December 1930)

” Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding. You cannot subjugate a nation forcibly unless you wipe out every man, woman, and child. Unless you wish to use such drastic measures, you must find a way of settling your disputes without resort to arms.”

From a speech to the New History Society (14 December 1930)

“It is my view that a vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.”

From a letter to Harmann Huth, 27 December 1930.”

I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.”

Interview with George Sylvester Viereck (January 1931)

“I believe in intuition and inspiration. … At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason. When the eclipse of 1919 confirmed my intuition, I was not in the least surprised. In fact I would have been astonished had it turned out otherwise. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.”

Cosmic Religion : With Other Opinions and Aphorisms (1931) by Albert Einstein, p. 97

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”

“All of science is nothing more than the refinement of everyday thinking.”

“Physics and Reality” in the Journal of the Franklin Institute Vol. 221, Issue 3 (March 1936)”

All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree…

– “Physics and Reality” (1936)

“The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.”

– Einstein: A Biography (1954) by Antonina Vallentin, p. 24

“The essential unity of ecclesiastical and secular institutions was lost during the 19th century, to the point of senseless hostility. Yet there was never any doubt as to the striving for culture. No one doubted the sacredness of the goal. It was the approach that was disputed.”

– Moral Decay” (1937) ”

This new phenomenon would also lead to the construction of bombs, and it is conceivable—though much less certain—that extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed. A single bomb of this type, carried by boat or exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory. However, such bombs might very well prove to be too heavy for transportation by air.”

Letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt (August 2, 1939, delivered October 11, 1939);

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds…

Letter to Morris Raphael Cohen, (19 March 1940).

“Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.”

Letter to high school student Barbara Lee Wilson (7 January 1943),

“Had I known that the Germans would not succeed in producing an atomic bomb, I would not have lifted a finger.”

Discussing the letter he sent Roosevelt raising the possibility of atomic weapons. from “Atom: Einstein, the Man Who Started It All,” Newsweek Magazine (10 March 1947)

“Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it.”

As quoted by Virgil Henshaw in Albert Einstein : Philosopher Scientist (1949) edited by Paul A. Schilpp

“I do not know how the Third World War will be fought, but I can tell you what they will use in the Fourth — rocks!

As quoted in an interview with Alfred Werner, published in Liberal Judaism 16 (April-May 1949),

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

Letter to Carl Seelig (11 March 1952), Einstein Archives 39-013

“What lead me more or less directly to the special theory of relativity was the conviction that the electromotive force acting on a body in motion in a magnetic field was nothing else but an electric field.”

Letter to the Michelson Commemorative Meeting of the Cleveland Physics Society (1952)

“I sometimes ask myself how did it come that I was the one to develop the theory of relativity. The reason, I think, is that a normal adult never stops to think about problems of space and time. But my intellectual development was retarded, as a result of which I began to wonder about space and time only when I had already grown up. Naturally, I could go deeper into the problem than a child with normal abilities.”

-Einstein: The Life and Times by Ronald W. Clark (1971), p. 27.

“The hardest thing in the world to understand is income taxes.”

“When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity.”

– Expandable Quotable Einstein (2005) edited by Alice Calaprice

“I said before, the most beautiful and most profound religious emotion that we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. And this mysticality is the power of all true science. If there is any such concept as a God, it is a subtle spirit, not an image of a man that so many have fixed in their minds. In essence, my religion consists of a humble admiration for this illimitable superior spirit that reveals itself in the slight details that we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds.”

As quoted in The Private Albert Einstein (1992)

“I do not believe in race as such. Race is a fraud. All modern people are the conglomeration of so many ethnic mixtures that no pure race remains.”

– Albert Einstein

“I am happy because I want nothing from anyone. I do not care for money. Decorations, titles or distinctions mean nothing to me. I do not crave praise. The only thing that gives me pleasure, apart from my work, my violin and my sailboat, is the appreciation of my fellow workers.”

– Albert Einstein

“I claim credit for nothing. Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible player.”

Wisehart interview (1930)

“I have only two rules which I regard as principles of conduct. The first is: Have no rules. The second is: Be independent of the opinion of others.”

M. K. Wisehart, interview June 1930.

“My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities.”

Religion and Science (1930)

“This topic brings me to that worst outcrop of the herd nature, the military system, which I abhor. That a man can take pleasure in marching in formation to the strains of a band is enough to make me despise him. He has only been given his big brain by mistake; a backbone was all he needed. This plague-spot of civilization ought to be abolished with all possible speed. Heroism by order, senseless violence, and all the pestilent nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism — how I hate them! War seems to me a mean, contemptible thing: I would rather be hacked in pieces than take part in such an abominable business.”

A person who is religiously enlightened appears to me to be one who has, to the best of his ability, liberated himself from the fetters of his selfish desires and is preoccupied with thoughts, feelings, and aspirations to which he clings because of their superpersonal value.

Science and Religion (1941)

A conflict arises when a religious community insists on the absolute truthfulness of all statements recorded in the Bible. This means an intervention on the part of religion into the sphere of science; this is where the struggle of the Church against the doctrines of Galileo and Darwin belongs.

Science and Religion (1941)

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.

Science and Religion (1941)

“Science not only purifies the religious impulse of the dross of its anthropomorphism but also contributes to a religious spiritualization of our understanding of life.”

Science and Religion (1941)

“Today we must abandon competition and secure cooperation. This must be the central fact in all our considerations of international affairs; otherwise we face certain disaster.”

Only Then Shall We Find Courage (1946)

“The great moral teachers of humanity were, in a way, artistic geniuses in the art of living.”

Science and Religion (1941)

“The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained to liberation from the self.”

The World As I See It (1949)

“I am absolutely convinced that no wealth in the world can help humanity forward, even in the hands of the most devoted worker in this cause. The example of great and pure characters is the only thing that can produce fine ideas and noble deeds. Money only appeals to selfishness and always tempts its owners irresistibly to abuse it.”

The World As I See It (1949)

“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions that differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of.”

Out of My Later Years (1950)

“Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing that people do — but gravitation cannot be held responsible for it.”

Albert Einstein: The Human Side (1979)

“The most important tool of the theoretical physicist is his wastebasket.”

Albert Einstein: A guide for the perplexed (1979)

“School failed me, and I failed the school. It bored me. The teachers behaved like Feldwebel (sergeants). I wanted to learn what I wanted to know, but they wanted me to learn for the exam. What I hated most was the competitive system there, and especially sports. Because of this, I wasn’t worth anything, and several times they suggested I leave.”

Einstein and the Poet (1983)

I believe that we don’t need to worry about what happens after this life, as long as we do our duty here—to love and to serve.

Einstein and the Poet (1983)

But then, after all, we are all alike, for we are all derived from the monkey.

Einstein and the Poet (1983)

I do not believe in the God of theology who rewards good and punishes evil. My God created laws that take care of that. His universe is not ruled by wishful thinking, but by immutable laws.

Einstein and the Poet (1983)

Try not to become a man of success, but a man of value. Look around at how people want to get more out of life than they put in. A man of value will give more than he receives. Be creative, but make sure that what you create is not a curse for mankind.

Einstein and the Poet (1983)

The bigotry of the nonbeliever is for me nearly as funny as the bigotry of the believer.

Einstein and the Poet (1983)

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.

As quoted in Journal of France and Germany (1942 – 1944) by Gilbert Fowler White (disputed)