Lewis Thomas Quotes

Most popular Lewis Thomas Quotes

We are, perhaps uniquely among the earth's creatures, the worrying animal.

worry mankind man the animal

Blind alleys and garden paths leading nowhere are the principal hazards in research.

research

Music is the effort we make to explain to ourselves how our brains work. We listen to Bach transfixed because this is listening to a human mind.
— Lewis Thomas
Altruism has always been one of biology's deep mysteries.  Why should any animal, off on its own...choose to give up its life in aid of someone else?

altruism

The capacity to blunder slightly is the real marvel of DNA. Without this special attribute, we would still be anaerobic bacteria and there would be no music.
— Lewis Thomas
When committees gather, each member is necessarily an actor, uncontrollably acting out the part of himself, reading the lines that identify him, asserting his identity.

committees

The great secret of doctors, known only to their wives, but still hidden from the public, is that most things get better by themselves; most things, in fact, are better in the morning.
— Lewis Thomas

health doctors

Ants are so much like human beings as to be an embarrassment.  They farm fungi, raise aphids as livestock, launch armies into wars, use chemical sprays to alarm and confuse enemies, capture slaves.
Mistakes are at the very base of human thought, embedded there, feeding the structure like root nodules.  If we were not provided with the knack of being wrong, we could never get anything useful done.

mistakes

The earliest sensation at the onset of illness, often preceding the recognition of identifiable symptoms, is apprehension.  Something has gone wrong, and a glimpse of mortality shifts somewhere deep in the mind.  It is the most ancient of our fears.

illness disease

Sometimes you get a glimpse of a semicolon coming, a few lines farther on, and it is like climbing a steep path through woods and seeing a wooden bench just at a bend in the road ahead, a place where you can expect to sit for a moment, catching your breath.

punctuation

Cats are a standing rebuke to behavioral scientists wanting to know how the minds of animals work.  The mind of a cat is an inscrutable mystery, beyond human reach, the least human of all creatures and at the same time, as any cat owner will attest, the most intelligent.

cats

The earliest sensation at the onset of illness, often preceding the recognition of identifiable symptoms, is apprehension.  Something has gone wrong, and a glimpse of mortality shifts somewhere deep in the mind.  It is the most ancient of our fears.  Something must be done, and quickly.  Come, please, and help, or go, please, and find help.  Hence, the profession of medicine.

medicine