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John Greenleaf Whittier

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Nature speaks in symbols and in signs.
To Charles Sumner, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

John Greenleaf Whittier

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As a scientist, the Quran speaks to me in that it emphasises reflection on Laws of Nature, with examples drawn from cosmology, physics, biology and medicine, as signs for all men.

Abdus Salam

The ironist is not bitter, he does not seek to undercut everything that seems worthy or serious, he scorns the cheap scoring-off of the wisecracker. He stands, so to speak, somewhat at one side, observes and speaks with a moderation which is occasionally embellished with a flash of controlled exaggeration. He speaks from a certain depth, and thus he is not of the same nature as the wit, who so often speaks from the tongue and no deeper. The wit's desire is to be funny; the ironist is only funny as a secondary achievement.

Robertson Davies

The process by means of which human beings can arbitrarily make certan things stand for other things may be called the symbolic process. Whenever two or more human beings can communicate with each other, they can, by agreement, make anything stand for anything. For example, here are two symbols:
      X      Y
We can agree to let X stand for buttons and Y for bows; then we can freely change our agreement and let X stand for [...] North Korea, and Y for South Korea. We are, as human beings, uniquely free to manufacture and manipulate and assign values to our symbols as we please. Indeed, we can go further by making symbols that stand for symbols. [...] This freedom to create symbols of any assigned value and to create symbols that stand for symbols is essential to what we call the symbolic process.

S. I. Hayakawa

In [Aristotle’s] formal logic, thought is organized in a manner very different from that of the Platonic dialogue. In this formal logic, thought is indifferent toward its objects. Whether they are mental or physical, whether they pertain to society or to nature, they become subject to the same general laws of organization, calculation, and conclusion — but they do so as fungible signs or symbols, in abstraction from their particular “substance.” This general quality (quantitative quality) is the precondition of law and order — in logic as well as in society — the price of universal control.

Herbert Marcuse

This is what I see and what troubles me. I look on all sides, and I see only darkness everywhere. Nature presents to me nothing which is not matter of doubt and concern. If I saw nothing there which revealed a Divinity, I would come to a negative conclusion; if I saw everywhere the signs of a Creator, I would remain peacefully in faith. But, seeing too much to deny and too little to be sure, I am in a state to be pitied; wherefore I have a hundred time wished that if a God maintains nature, she should testify to Him unequivocally, and that, if the signs she gives are deceptive, she should suppress them altogether; that she should say everything or nothing, that I might see which cause I ought to follow. Whereas in my present state, ignorant of what I am or of what I ought to do, I know neither my condition nor my duty. My heart inclines wholly to know where is the true good, in order to follow it; nothing would be too dear to me for eternity. 229

Blaise Pascal
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