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Quotations From LEWIS THOMAS

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  • 1.
    Ants are so much like human beings as to be an embarrassment. They farm fungi, raise aphids as livestock, launch armies into war, use chemical sprays to alarm and confuse enemies, capture slaves, engage in child labor, exchange information ceaselessly. They do everything but watch television.
    Lewis Thomas (b. 1913), U.S. educator, physician. "On Societies as Organisms," Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher, Viking (1974).

    Read more quotations about / on: television, war, child
  • 2.
    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 (b. 1913), U.S. physician, educator. "On Thinking About Thinking," The Medusa and the Snail (1979).

    Read more quotations about / on: music, work
  • 3.
    We are built to make mistakes, coded for error.
    Lewis Thomas (b. 1913), U.S. physician, educator. "To Err is Human," The Medusa and the Snail (1979).
  • 4.
    If you want to use a cliché you must take full responsibility for it yourself and not try to fob it off on anon., or on society.
    Lewis Thomas (b. 1913), U.S. physician, educator. "Notes on Punctuation," The Medusa and the Snail (1979).
  • 5.
    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.... We are designed, coded, it seems, to place the highest priority on being individuals, and we must do this first, at whatever cost, even if it means disability for the group.
    Lewis Thomas (b. 1913), U.S. physician, educator. "On Committees," The Medusa and the Snail (1979).

    Read more quotations about / on: identity
  • 6.
    It hurts the spirit, somehow, to read the word environments, when the plural means that there are so many alternatives there to be sorted through, as in a market, and voted on.
    Lewis Thomas (b. 1913), U.S. physician, educator. "Natural Man," The Lives of a Cell (1974).
  • 7.
    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.
    Lewis Thomas (b. 1913), U.S. physician, educator. "Notes on Punctuation," The Medusa and the Snail (1979).

    Read more quotations about / on: sometimes
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