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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index R > Jean Rostand Quotes

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Jean Rostand
(30 Oct 1894 - 4 Sep 1977)

French biologist and historian who also popularized science through his writings, including the history of science and philosophy.


Science Quotes by Jean Rostand (17 quotes)

Le biologiste passe, la grenouille reste.
The biologist passes, the frog remains.
[Sometimes quoted as "Theories pass. The frog remains."]
— Jean Rostand
Inquiétudes d'un Biologiste (1967, 1973), 66. The meaning in the quote is that although theories may be discarded, the facts remain unchanged. Discussed in Elizabeth M. Knowles, What They Didn't Say: a Book of Misquotations (2006), 110.
Science quotes on:  |  Biologist (16)  |  Fact (325)  |  Frog (24)  |  Passing (2)  |  Remaining (8)

On tue un homme, on est un assassin. On tue des millions d'hommes, on est un conquérant. On les tue tous, on est un dieu.
Kill a man, and you are an assassin. Kill millions of men and you are a conqueror. Kill everyone, and you are a god.
— Jean Rostand
Pensées d'un biologiste (1939), 116.
Science quotes on:  |  Conqueror (3)  |  God (234)  |  Killing (9)  |  Million (29)

A body of work such as Pasteur's is inconceivable in our time: no man would be given a chance to create a whole science. Nowadays a path is scarcely opened up when the crowd begins to pour in.
— Jean Rostand
Pensées d’un Biologiste (1939). Translated in The Substance of Man (1962), Chap. 6.
Science quotes on:  |  Beginning (71)  |  Body (88)  |  Chance (77)  |  Creation (129)  |  Crowd (4)  |  Man (258)  |  Nowadays (2)  |  Opening (8)  |  Louis Pasteur (37)  |  Path (21)  |  Scarcely (3)  |  Science (875)  |  Time (170)  |  Whole (46)  |  Work (198)

Already at the origin of the species man was equal to what he was destined to become.
— Jean Rostand
Can Man Be Modified? (1959), 76.
Science quotes on:  |  Already (5)  |  Become (11)  |  Destiny (12)  |  Equal (22)  |  Man (258)  |  Origin (36)  |  Species (96)

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.
— Jean Rostand
Pensées d'un Biologiste (1939). Translated in The Substance of Man (1962), 89.
Science quotes on:  |  Achievement (73)  |  Beauty (88)  |  Certain (14)  |  Error (152)  |  Falsity (9)  |  Human (168)  |  Idea (226)  |  Ingenuity (16)  |  Keeping (6)  |  Mind (272)  |  Regret (8)

If a given scientist had not made a given discovery, someone else would have done so a little later. Johann Mendel dies unknown after having discovered the laws of heredity: thirty-five years later, three men rediscover them. But the book that is not written will never be written. The premature death of a great scientist delays humanity; that of a great writer deprives it.
— Jean Rostand
Pensées d'un Biologiste (1939). Translated in The Substance of Man (1962), 89.
Science quotes on:  |  Book (100)  |  Death (183)  |  Delay (2)  |  Deprivation (4)  |  Discovery (360)  |  Do (19)  |  Else (4)  |  Given (2)  |  Great (62)  |  Heredity (43)  |  Humanity (46)  |  Later (4)  |  Law (273)  |  Gregor Mendel (18)  |  Never (19)  |  Premature (11)  |  Scientist (237)  |  Someone (4)  |  Unknown (40)  |  Write (21)  |  Writing (50)

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.
— Jean Rostand
Pensées d'un Biologiste (1939). Translated in The Substance of Man (1962), 195.
Science quotes on:  |  Ease (20)  |  Exception (16)  |  Honour (20)  |  Imagination (130)  |  Interest (82)  |  Possibility (70)  |  Scientist (237)  |  Student (54)  |  Teacher (54)  |  Work (198)

It is sometimes important for science to know how to forget the things she is surest of.
— Jean Rostand
Pensées d’un Biologiste (1939). Translated in The Substance of Man (1962), Chap. 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Forgetting (8)  |  Importance (106)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Science (875)  |  Sometimes (7)  |  Surest (4)  |  Thing (27)

It is sometimes well for a blatant error to draw attention to overmodest truths.
— Jean Rostand
Pensées d'un Biologiste (1939). Translated in The Substance of Man (1962), 89.
Science quotes on:  |  Attention (37)  |  Benefit (21)  |  Drawing (15)  |  Error (152)  |  Sometimes (7)  |  Truth (450)  |  Well (7)

Nothing leads the scientist so astray as a premature truth.
— Jean Rostand
Pensées d'un Biologiste (1939). Translated in The Substance of Man (1962), 89.
Science quotes on:  |  Astray (2)  |  Leading (8)  |  Nothing (89)  |  Premature (11)  |  Scientist (237)  |  Truth (450)

One must credit an hypothesis with all that has had to be discovered in order to demolish it.
— Jean Rostand
Pensées d'un Biologiste (1939). Translated in The Substance of Man (1962), 89.
Science quotes on:  |  Credit (10)  |  Demolition (4)  |  Discovery (360)  |  Hypothesis (150)

Science had better not free the minds of men too much, before it has tamed their instincts.
— Jean Rostand
The Substance of Man (1962), 19.
Science quotes on:  |  Freedom (41)  |  Instinct (24)  |  Men (12)  |  Mind (272)  |  Science (875)

Science has made gods of us before we have deserved even to be men.
— Jean Rostand
Pensées d'un Biologiste (1939). Translated in The Substance of Man (1962), 85.
Science quotes on:  |  Before (6)  |  Being (34)  |  Deserve (6)  |  God (234)  |  Making (18)  |  Men (12)  |  Science (875)

There are big and little truths, but all belong to the same race.
— Jean Rostand
Pensées d'un Biologiste (1939). Translated in The Substance of Man (1962), 89.
Science quotes on:  |  Belonging (8)  |  Big (5)  |  Little (29)  |  Race (36)  |  Truth (450)

There are moments when very little truth would be enough to shape opinion. One might be hated at extremely low cost.
— Jean Rostand
Pensées d'un Biologiste (1939). Translated in The Substance of Man (1962), 151.
Science quotes on:  |  Cost (15)  |  Extreme (17)  |  Hatred (7)  |  Little (29)  |  Low (3)  |  Moment (21)  |  Opinion (81)  |  Shape (20)  |  Truth (450)

What scientist would not long to go on living, if only to see how the little truths he has brought to light will grow up?
— Jean Rostand
Pensées d'un Biologiste (1939). Translated in The Substance of Man (1962), 254.
Science quotes on:  |  Bringing (8)  |  Growth (70)  |  Life (460)  |  Light (117)  |  Little (29)  |  Scientist (237)  |  Seeing (29)  |  Truth (450)

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.
— Jean Rostand
Pensées d'un Biologiste (1939). Translated in The Substance of Man (1962), Chap. 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Ahead (8)  |  Appearance (47)  |  Current (16)  |  Error (152)  |  Future (110)  |  Gross (2)  |  Intuition (26)  |  Misunderstanding (6)  |  Perspective (4)  |  Prophetic (2)  |  Scientist (237)  |  Time (170)  |  Truth (450)



Quotes by others about Jean Rostand (1)

I noticed affixed to a laboratory door the following words: “Les théories passent. Le Grenouille reste. [The theories pass. The frog remains.] &mdashJean Rostand, Carnets d’un biologiste.” There is a risk that in the less severe discipline of criticism the result may turn out to be different; the theories will remain but the frog may disappear.
In An Appetite for Poetry (1989), 5.
Science quotes on:  |  Criticism (34)  |  Difference (135)  |  Disappearance (15)  |  Discipline (15)  |  Frog (24)  |  Laboratory (75)  |  Notice (11)  |  Passing (2)  |  Remaining (8)  |  Result (129)  |  Theory (353)  |  Words (2)


See also:
  • todayinsci icon 30 Oct - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Rostand's birth.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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