Thursday, May 05, 2022

Quotes of Note: Isaac Asimov, "Foundation and Empire" I

Quotes of note from Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov:

(Page numbers gleaned from the 32nd printing of the 1966 Avon mass-market paperback.)

"[A]n uninformed public tends to confuse scholarship with magicianry... ." (p. 13)

"I connect scholarship with nothing but the means of answering difficult questions." (p. 13)

"[W]here is the stagnant planet that does not claim to have been a land of overflowing wealth in older days?" (p. 17)

"Circulation ceases first at the outer edges." (p. 17)

"Does it matter who speaks first?" (p. 20)

"[T]he essential in running a risk is that the returns justify it." (p. 20)

"If a man comes with ships and wealth, with overtures of friendliness, and with offers of trade, it is only sensible to refrain from antagonizing him, until we are certain that the profitable mask is not a face after all." (p. 21)

"Patriotism be damned... ." (p. 23)

"[L]aws help those who help themselves." (p. 24)

"The times make the man... ." (p. 24)

"[T]he mere act of not being a traitor is ... a long way from agreeing to be an active helper." (p. 26)

"I always find it difficult to penetrate another person's mysticism." (p. 28)

"[W]e stand clasped tightly in the forcing hand of the Goddess of [Psycho-]Historical Necessity." (p. 29)

"[T]he dead hand of the mathematics of human behavior ... can neither be stopped, swerved, nor delayed." (p. 30)

"There have been a wearisomely large number of precedents in history." (p. 31)

"[T]here is not a biped extant who can study a disease before his eyes with those same eyes." (p. 32)

"He is a dreamer of ancients times, or rather, of the myths of what ancient times used to be. Such men are harmless in themselves, but their queer lack of realism makes them fools for others." (p. 34) 

"I would not wish to be served entirely by incompetents." (p. 34) 

"An incompetent traitor is no danger. It is rather the capable men who must be watched." (p. 34) 

 "[E]ven a romantic idiot can be a deadly weapon when an unromantic rebel uses him as a tool." (p. 35) 

"You'll find [extraneous authority] inconvenient... ." (p. 40) 

"Good treatment is what I mostly crave... ." (p. 42) 

"I'm a man of business. If it adds up to a plus mark, I'm for it." (p. 44) 

"[T]here is a difference between boldness and blindness." (p. 49) 

"[I]t was the ... yoke and not the villain that mattered." (p. 54) 

"There are sources of power greater than the atoms." (p. 59) 

"I crave to be on the winning side... ." (p. 61) 

"Because you don't hear the wheels turning and the gongs beating doesn't mean it's any the less certain." (p. 67) 

"A trader has to be something of everything." (p. 68) 

"Words are a pretty fuzzy substitute for mathematical equations." (p. 80) 

"A courtier who becomes too rich, or a general who becomes too popular is dangerous." (p. 81) 

"You can always tell a woman's weight by her upper arm... ." (p. 87) 

"[I]t was falling apart of the triple disease of inertia, despotism, and maldistribution of the goods of the universe." (p. 89) 

"The laws of history are as absolute as the laws of physics, and if the probabilities of error are greater, it is only because history does not deal with as many humans as physics does atoms, so that individual variations count for more." (p. 90) 

"'[I]ntelligence,' 'espionage,' and 'spy stuff' are at best a sordid business of routine betrayed and bad faith." (p. 95) 

"[S]ociety is much more easily soothed than one's own conscience... ." (p. 95) 

"[M]y duty is primarily to the state, and not to my superior." (p. 99) 

"[H]e serves most faithfully who serves Truth." (p. 100) 

"The owners sell ... at ample profits. The government collects huge taxes. Everyone has fun. Nobody loses. Simple!" (p. 111) 

"Gratitude is best and most effective when it does not evaporate itself in empty phrases." (p. 113)

"In our business it is better to overdo suspicion than the opposite." (p. 116) 

"[T]he element known as 'pure science' was the freest form of life... ." (p. 120)

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