// by Arthur Eddington | Philosophy Department at St. Anselm College //

Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.

The mathematics is not there till we put it there.

The man in the street is always making this demand for concrete explanation of the things referred to in science; but of necessity he must be disappointed. It is like our experience in learning to read. That which is written in a book is symbolic of a story in real life.

We are left with the indisputable but irritating conclusion: 0 = 0. This is a favourite device that mathematical equations resort to, when we propound stupid questions.

Science aims at constructing a world which shall be symbolic of the world of commonplace experience. It is not at all necessary that every individual symbol that is used should represent something in common experience or even something explicable in terms of common experience.

If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell's equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell's equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

To a request to explain what an electron is really supposed to be we can only answer, 'It is part of the A B C of physics.'

The portions of the external universe of which we have additional knowledge by direct awareness amount to a very small fraction of the whole; of the rest we know only the structure and not what it is a structure of. Science is concerned with the rational correlation of experience rather than a discovery of fragments of absolute truth about an external world.

Untaught by long experience we stretch a hand to grasp the shadow, instead of accepting its shadowy nature.