“What is the foundation of all philosophical systems of ancient and modern times, in fact, of all the philosophy of men? I am I think; I think, therefore I am. But how could I think and how would I know that I exist, if I had not the eye? For knowledge involve; consciousness; consciousness involves ideas, conceptions; conceptions involve pictures or images, and images the sense of vision, and therefore the organ of sight. But how about blind men, will be asked? Yes, a blind man may depict in magnificent poems, forms and scenes from real life, from a world he physically does not see. A blind man may touch the keys of an instrument with unerring precision, may model the fastest boat, may discover and invent, calculate and construct, may do still greater wonders—but all the blind men who have done such things have descended from those who had seeing eyes.”
“On Light And Other High Frequency Phenomena.” Lecture delivered before the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, February 1893, and before the National Electric Light Association, St. Louis, March 1893.
“The human brain, with all its wonderful capabilities and power, is far from being a faultless apparatus. Most of its parts may be in perfect working order, but some are atrophied, undeveloped or missing altogether. Great men of all classes and professions — scientists, inventors, and hard-headed financiers — have placed themselves on record with impossible theories, inoperative devices, and unrealizable schemes. It is doubtful that there could be found a single work of any one individual free of error. There is no such thing as an infallible brain. Invariably, some cells or fibers are wanting or unresponsive, with the result of impairing judgment, sense of proportion, or some other faculty. A man of genius eminently practical, whose name is a household word, has wasted the best years of his life in a visionary undertaking. A celebrated physicist was incapable of tracing the direction of an electric current according to a childishly simple rule. The writer, who was known to recite entire volumes by heart, has never been able to retain in memory and recapitulate in their proper order the words designating the colors of the rainbow, and can only ascertain them after long and laborious thought, strange as it may seem.
"Our organs of reception, too, are deficient and deceptive. As a semblance of life is produced by a rapid succession of inanimate pictures, so many of our perceptions are but trickery of the senses, devoid of reality. The greatest triumphs of man were those in which his mind had to free itself from the influence of delusive appearances. Such was the revelation of Buddha that self is an illusion caused by the persistence and continuity of mental images: the discovery of Copernicus that, contrary to all observation, this planet rotates around the sun; the recognition of Descartes that the human being is an automaton, governed by external influence and the idea that the earth is spherical, which led Columbus to the finding of this continent. And tho the minds of individuals supplement one another and science and experience are continually eliminating fallacies and misconceptions, much of our present knowledge is still incomplete and unreliable. We have sophisms in mathematics which cannot be disproved. Even in pure reasoning, free of the shortcomings of symbolic processes, we are often arrested by doubt which the strongest intelligences have been unable to dispel. Experimental science itself, most positive of all, is not unfailing.”
“Archimedes was my ideal. I admired the works of artists, but to my mind, they were only shadows and semblances. The inventor, I thought, gives to the world creations which are palpable, which live and work.”
“Long ago this simple truth was clearly pointed out by Herbert Spencer, who arrived at it through a somewhat different process of reasoning. It is borne out in everything we perceive—in the movement of a planet, in the surging and ebbing of the tide, in the reverberations of the air, the swinging of a pendulum, the oscillations of an electric current, and in the infinitely varied phenomena of organic life. Does not the whole of human life attest to it? Birth, growth, old age, and death of an individual, family, race, or nation, what is it all but a rhythm? All life-manifestation, then, even in its most intricate form, as exemplified in man, however involved and inscrutable, is only a movement, to which the same general laws of movement which govern throughout the physical universe must be applicable.”
“The Problem of Increasing Human Energy (With Special References to the Harnessing of the Sun’s Energy.”Century Illustrated Magazine, June 1900.