Jean Rostand

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Jean Rostand (1894-10-30 - 1977-09-03) was a French biologist and philosopher.


  • The ideal, without doubt, varies, but its enemies, alas, are always the same.
  • We must watch over our modesty in the presence of those who cannot understand its grounds.
  • Nothing leads the scientist so astray as a premature truth.
  • Falsity cannot keep an idea from being beautiful; there are certain errors of such ingenuity that one could regret their not ranking among the achievements of the human mind.
  • I prefer the honest jargon of reality to the outright lies of books.
  • It is not easy to imagine how little interested a scientist usually is in the work of any other, with the possible exception of the teacher who backs him or the student who honors him.
  • It is sometimes important for science to know how to forget the things it is surest of.
  • It takes a very deep-rooted opinion to survive unexpressed.
  • When a scientist is ahead of his times, it is often through misunderstanding of current, rather than intuition of future truth. In science there is never any error so gross that it won't one day, from some perspective, appear prophetic.
  • Le biologiste passe.La grenouille reste.
    • Translation: The biologist passes. The frog stays the same.
  • To be adult is to be alone.
  • Stupidity, outrage, vanity, cruelty, iniquity, bad faith, falsehood - we fail to see the whole array when it is facing in the same direction as we.
  • Science has made us gods even before we are worthy of being men.
  • A few great minds are enough to endow humanity with monstrous power, but a few great hearts are not enough to make us worthy of using it.
  • A married couple are well suited when both partners usually feel the need for a quarrel at the same time.
  • I don't judge a regime by the damning criticism of the opposition, but by the ingenuous praise of the partisan.
  • The least one can say of power is that a vocation for it is suspicious.
  • In order to remain true to oneself one ought to renounce one's party three times a day.
  • In politics, yesterday's lie is attacked only to flatter today's.
  • To say of men that they are bad is to say they are worse than we think we are, or worse than the ideal man whose image we have built up on the basis of a certain few.
  • We are not naive enough to ask for pure men; we ask merely for men whose impurity does not conflict with the obligations of their job.
  • Take heed of critics even when they are not fair; resist them even when they are.
  • Certain brief sentences are peerless in their ability to give one the feeling that nothing remains to be said.
  • The books one has written in the past have two surprises in store: one couldn't write them again, and wouldn't want to.
  • Prerequisite for rereadability in books: that they be forgettable.
  • The divine is perhaps that quality in man which permits him to endure the lack of God.
  • Kill a man, and you are a murderer. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill everyone, and you are a god.
  • God, that checkroom of our dreams.
  • I should have no use for a paradise in which I should be deprived of the right to prefer hell.
  • Renown? I've already got more of it than those I respect, and will never have as much as those for whom I feel contempt.
  • Greatness, in order to gain recognition, must all too often consent to ape greatness.

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