“If man made himself the first object of study, he would see how incapable he is of going further. How can a part know the whole? But he may perhaps aspire to know at least the parts to which he bears some proportion. But the parts of the world are all so related and linked to one another that I believe it impossible to know one without the other and without the whole…
Since everything, then, is cause and effect, dependent and supporting, mediate and immediate, and all is held together by a natural though imperceptible chain which binds together things most distant and most different, I hold it equally impossible to know the parts without knowing the whole and to know the whole without knowing the parts in detail.”

– Blaise Pascal

“The beginning of modern science can be dated from the time when such general questions as, “How was the universe created? What is matter made of? What is the essence of life?” were replaced by such limited questions as “How does a stone fall? How does water flow in a tube? How does blood circulate in vessels?” This substitution had an amazing result. While asking general questions led to limited answers, asking limited questions turned out to provide more and more general answers.”

— Francois Jacob


“If a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced it is
left standing, then that rationality will simply produce another
factory. If a revolution destroys a government, but the systematic
patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact,
then those patterns will repeat themselves. . . . There’s so much talk
about the system. And so little understanding.”

— Robert Pirsig

“The only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind. No wise man ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this; nor is it in the nature of human intellect to become wise in any other manner.”

– John Stuart Mill