A good part of the quotes of Isaac Asimov are oriented to exalt the value of science and denounce the effects of ignorance. This impressive writer of Russian origin, but nationalized in the United States, was perhaps the most important scientific disseminator in the twentieth century. Hence his emphasis on the value of reason.
Asimov was also one of the great science fiction writers. In this facet he achieved great achievements and proved that scientific thought does not exclude the imagination, but, on the contrary, is inspired by it. Therefore, there are also several phrases by Isaac Asimov that allude to the creative.
This writer declared himself first agnostic and then atheist. There are phrases by Isaac Asimov that directly question religious beliefs. This may be shocking to some, but the interest of Asimov was not to disrespect the cults, but to denounce their lack of consistency. Let’s see some of his most interesting affirmations.
“And above all things, never think you’re not good enough. A man should never think that.”
1. One of Isaac Asimov’s phrases about morality
“Never let your sense of morality get in the way of doing what is right.”
This is one of those phrases by Isaac Asimov that may be surprising or questionable to some. It establishes a contrast between the sense of morality and the right. It is something that some would classify as contradictory, especially if they see it from a moralistic perspective.
What Asimov does is to pose a deeply pragmatic stance. The sense of morality is finally a metaphysical reality. It belongs to the world of ideas. The right thing, on the other hand, inhabits the terrain of common sense and the best for all, although it contradicts some moral precept.
2. Knowledge and wisdom
“The saddest aspect of life right now, is that science reaches knowledge faster than society reaches wisdom.”
This is a beautiful statement, which masterfully describes one of the realities that we are now facing. Advances in science and technology advance at a rapid pace, but individual and social changes do not.
A clear example of this reality are wars. They are still a path that many bet, as a means to resolve some contradiction. Currently the war has a very high technological level, but to promote it in itself, continues obeying a pattern of thought that is not too far from the man of the caves.
“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”
This is one of those phrases of Isaac Asimov who has made a career. Perhaps, the best known statement of him. It is not for less: it condenses a great truth in a few words. Denounces the true face of violent behavior.
Asimov points out that violence is typical of the incompetent, because it corresponds to the most basic and instinctive response to a conflict. It only appears when other human competences, such as communication skills, empathy or creativity, do not emerge.
4. Life and chess
“In life, unlike in chess, the game continues after checkmate.”
In the field of the human, the concept of “final” is very relative. Actually, it does not exist as such. Even our life does not end when we die, because we are still present in our works and in the minds or hearts of those who knew us.
Any ending, then, does not equal an absolute ending. Rather, it corresponds to an important change in the line of continuity. This is human life: a succession of beginnings and endings, in which absolute zero is never reached.
5. Science is a light
“There is only one light in science and to light it anywhere is to light it in all places.”
So far, science is the only human discourse that has two characteristics: it is universal and cumulative. Universal, because it has validity regardless of the culture of which it is spoken. And cumulative, because on the basis of the previous results, new knowledge is built.
Neither religion nor philosophy, much less beliefs have these characteristics. That is why Isaac Asimov says that when science illuminates in one place, it is also enlightening them all. The scientific truth is the closest to the truth as such.