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quotations about intelligence

Knowledge is having the right answer. Intelligence is asking the right question.

There are some with brains and some without. It makes for a better division of labour.


Intelligence forbids tears.

DORIS LESSING, A Man and Two Women

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.


We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.

ALBERT EINSTEIN, as quoted in Jerry Mayer's Bite-Size Einstein

Intelligence is the art of good guesswork.

H.B. BARLOW, The Oxford Companion to the Mind

Stupid was a prison they never let you out of, no time off for good behavior, you were in for life.

STEPHEN KING (as Richard Bachman), Blaze

Families, when a child is born
Want it to be intelligent.
I, through intelligence,
Having wrecked my whole life,
Only hope the baby will prove
Ignorant and stupid.
Then he will crown a tranquil life
By becoming a Cabinet Minister.

SU SHI, "On the Birth of His Son"

Reason is man's instrument for arriving at the truth, intelligence is man's instrument for manipulating the world more successfully; the former is essentially human, the latter belongs to the animal part of man.

ERICH FROMM, The Sane Society

An intelligent man finds almost everything ridiculous.

JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE, The Maxims and Reflections of Goethe

Fools do not understand men of intelligence.


Intellectual force is qualitatively the first and foremost productive force, and concern for its rapid growth should be the ardent concern of all classes.

MAXIM GORKY, Untimely Thoughts

Intelligence quote

On the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on -- whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.

DOUGLAS ADAMS, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

It takes something more than intelligence to act intelligently.

FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY, Crime and Punishment

Intelligence flourishes only in the ages when belief withers.

EMIL CIORAN, A Short History of Decay

The burden of intelligence: you can always imagine all those wonderful places where you can never belong.


The loss of sense adds as much beauty to the world as its acquisition.

MARCEL PROUST, The Guermantes Way

Intelligence is power; it is the flame behind the spark of intrigue. Find out all the facts and stamp out the fire. Demystify.

TOBSHA LEARNER, The Witch of Cologne

A man must be completely wanting in intelligence if he does not show it when actuated by love, malice, or necessity.

JEAN DE LA BRUYÈRE, "Of the Affections", Les Caractères

Brains in the head saves blisters on the feet.

KEN ALSTAD, Savvy Sayin's

Man is man because he chanced to develop intelligence instead of instinct; otherwise he would to this day have remained among the anthropoid apes. He has turned away from nature, become unnatural, as it were, disliked the earth upon which he found himself, and changed the face of it somewhat to his liking.

JACK LONDON, The Kempton-Wace Letters

You put too much stock in human intelligence, it doesn't annihilate human nature.

PHILIP ROTH, American Pastoral


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