I have run up and down upon the earth:
I grasped life’s pleasures roughly, by the hair,
exploiting everything I thought of worth.
What I delighted in, I seized,
relinquishing what no longer pleased,
storming through life – at first. With age, indeed,
I go more cautiously, and pay more heed.
I know enough of the world, enough of men,
to know that what’s beyond’s beyond our ken.
Why need Man bother with such mysteries?
What he experiences is what he is.
~ Faust, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Anyone can know what I know. My heart alone is my own.
~ The Sorrows of Young Werther, Wolfgang von Goethe
We wish to learn all the curious, outlandish ways of all the different countries, so that we can ‘show off’ and astonish people when we get home. We wish to excite the envy of our untravelled friends with our strange foreign fashions which we can’t shake off. All our passengers are paying strict attention to this thing, with the end in view which I have mentioned. The gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become, until he goes abroad. I speak now, of course, in the supposition that the gentle reader has not been abroad, and therefore is not already a consummate ass. If the case be otherwise, I beg his pardon and extend to him the cordial hand of fellowship and call him brother. I shall always delight to meet an ass after my own heart when I shall have finished my travels.
~ The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain
Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive — it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there? But am I talking too much? People are always telling me I do. Would you rather I didn’t talk? If you say so I’ll stop. I can STOP when I make up my mind to it, although it’s difficult.
~ Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery
Finally Pilate began to take offense. Although she was hampered by huge ignorances, but not in any way unintelligent, when she realized what her situation in the world was and would probably always be she threw away every assumption she had learned and began at zero. First off, she cut her hair. That was one thing she didn’t want to have to think about anymore. Then she tackled the problem of trying to decide how she wanted to live and what was valuable to her. When am I happy and when am I sad and what is the difference? What do I need to know to stay alive? What is true in the world? Her mind traveled crooked streets and aimless goat paths, arriving sometimes at profundity, other times at the revelations of a three-year old. Throughout this fresh, if common, pursuit of knowledge, one conviction crowned her efforts: since death held no terrors for her (she spoke often to the dead), she knew there was nothing to fear.
~ Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison
It’s not given to people to judge what’s right or wrong. People have eternally been mistaken and will be mistaken, and in nothing more so than in what they consider right and wrong.
~ War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
But ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable. They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world. Today we still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from. Humanity’s deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in.
~ A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking