
Now I feel as if I should succeed in doing something in mathematics, although I cannot see why it is so very important... The knowledge doesn't make life any sweeter or happier, does it?
Helen Keller The Story of My Life, 1903



Nobody before the Pythagorean had thought that mathematical relations held the secret of the universe. Twentyfive centuries later, Europe is still blessed and cursed with their heritage. To nonEuropean civilizations, the idea that numbers are the key to both wisdom and power, seems never to have occurred.
Arthur Koestler



It is amusing to discover, in the twentieth century, that the quarrels between two lovers, two mathematicians, two nations, two economic systems, usually assumed insoluble in a finite period should exhibit one mechanism, the semantic mechanism of identification  the discovery of which makes universal agreement possible, in mathematics and in life.
Alfred Korzybski



Stand firm in your refusal to remain conscious during algebra. In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra.
Fran Lebowitz



Socalled professional mathematicians have, in their reliance on the relative incapacity of the rest of mankind, acquired for themselves a reputation for profundity very similar to the reputation for sanctity possessed by theologians.
G. C. (Georg Christoph) Lichtenberg



I would not dare to say that there is a direct relation between mathematics and madness, but there is no doubt that great mathematicians suffer from maniacal characteristics, delirium and symptoms of schizophrenia.
John Forbes Nash



Mathematics would certainly have not come into existence if one had known from the beginning that there was in nature no exactly straight line, no actual circle, no absolute magnitude.
Friedrich Nietzsche



Mathematics, rightly viewed, posses not only truth, but supreme beauty a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture.
Bertrand Russell



Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true.
Bertrand Russell



The true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than Man, which is the touchstone of the highest excellence, is to be found in mathematics as surely as poetry.
Bertrand Russell Mysticism and Logic, 1917



Mathematics takes us into the region of absolute necessity, to which not only the actual word, but every possible word, must conform.
Bertrand Russell



Arithmetic is where the answer is right and everything is nice and you can look out of the window and see the blue sky  or the answer is wrong and you have to start over and try again and see how it comes out this time.
Carl Sandburg Complete Poems, 1950



What would life be without arithmetic, but a scene of horrors?
Sydney Smith



Mathematics is not a book confined within a cover and bound between brazen clasps, whose contents it needs only patience to ransack; it is not a mine, whose treasures may take long to reduce into possession, but which fill only a limited number of veins and lodes; it is not a soil, whose fertility can be exhausted by the yield of successive harvests; it is not a continent or an ocean, whose area can be mapped out and its contour defined: it is limitless as that space which it finds too narrow for its aspirations; its possibilities are as infinite as the worlds which are forever crowding in and multiplying upon the astronomer's gaze.
James Joseph Sylvester



Mathematics alone make us feel the limits of our intelligence. For we can always suppose in the case of an experiment that it is inexplicable because we don't happen to have all the data. In mathematics we have all the data and yet we don't understand. We always come back to the contemplation of our human wretchedness. What force is in relation to our will, the impenetrable opacity of mathematics is in relation to our intelligence.
Simone Weil



A man has one hundred dollars and you leave him with two dollars, that's subtraction.
Mae West My Little Chickadee, 1940

