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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index V > Rudolf Virchow Quotes

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Rudolf Virchow
(13 Oct 1821 - 5 Sep 1902)

German pathologist and statesman who originated the concept that disease arises in the individual cells of a tissue and, with publication of his Cellular Pathology (1858), founded the science of cellular pathology.

Science Quotes by Rudolf Virchow (26 quotes)

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'Science in itself' is nothing, for it exists only in the human beings who are its bearers. 'Science for its own sake' usually means nothing more than science for the sake of the people who happen to be pursuing it.
— Rudolf Virchow
'Standpoints in Scientific Medicine', Disease, Life, and Man: Selected Essays (1958), 42.
Science quotes on:  |  Research (376)  |  Science (998)

As long as vitalism and spiritualism are open questions so long will the gateway of science be open to mysticism.
— Rudolf Virchow
Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine (1928), 4, 994.
Science quotes on:  |  Mysticism (4)  |  Spiritualism (2)  |  Vitalism (4)

Belief begins where science leaves off and ends where science begins.
— Rudolf Virchow
In Fielding Hudson Garrison, An Introduction to the History of Medicine (1929), 14.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (161)  |  Science (998)

Belief cannot be reckoned with in terms of science, for science and faith are mutually exclusive.
— Rudolf Virchow
In Fielding Hudson Garrison, An Introduction to the History of Medicine (1966), 576.
Science quotes on:  |  Science And Religion (173)

Belief has no place as far as science reaches, and may be first permitted to take root where science stops.
— Rudolf Virchow
'On Man', Disease, Life, and Man: Selected Essays (1958), 83.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (161)  |  Science (998)

Bismarck, enraged at Virchow's constant criticisms, has his seconds call upon the scientist to challenge him to a duel. 'As the challenged party, I have the choice of weapons,' said Virchow, 'and I chose these.' He held aloft two sausages. 'One of these,' he went on, 'is infected with deadly germs; the other is perfectly sound. Let his Excellency decide which one he wishes to eat, and I will eat the other.' Almost immediately the message came back that the chancellor had decided to laugh off the duel.
— Rudolf Virchow
As quoted in Clifton Fadiman (ed.), AndrΓ© Bernard (ed.), Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes (2000), 556, citing E. Fuller, 2500 Anecdotes.
Science quotes on:  |  Otto von Bismarck (2)  |  Eat (17)  |  Germ (16)  |  Weapon (38)

Brevity in writing is the best insurance for its perusal.
— Rudolf Virchow
In Fielding Hudson Garrison, An Introduction to the History of Medicine (1929), 16.
Science quotes on:  |  Publication (77)

Disease is not something personal and special, but only a manifestation of life under modified conditions, operating according to the same laws as apply to the living body at all times, from the first moment until death.
— Rudolf Virchow
In Ian F. McNeely, Medicine on a Grand Scale: Rudolf Virchow, Liberalism, and the Public Health (2002), 26.
Science quotes on:  |  Disease (174)  |  Life (524)

First, it must be a pleasure to study the human body the most miraculous masterpiece of nature and to learn about the smallest vessel and the smallest fiber. But second and most important, the medical profession gives the opportunity to alleviate the troubles of the body, to ease the pain, to console a person who is in distress, and to lighten the hour of death of many a sufferer.
— Rudolf Virchow
Reasons for his choice of medicine as a career, from essay written during his last year in the Gymnasium (high school). As quoted in Leslie Dunn, Rudolf Virchow: Now You Know His Name (2012), 8-9.
Science quotes on:  |  Alleviate (2)  |  Career (34)  |  Death (199)  |  Distress (3)  |  Ease (23)  |  Fiber (5)  |  Hour (17)  |  Human Body (17)  |  Importance (122)  |  Learn (27)  |  Masterpiece (2)  |  Medical (6)  |  Miraculous (4)  |  Nature (600)  |  Opportunity (24)  |  Pain (56)  |  Pleasure (65)  |  Profession (34)  |  Smallest (3)  |  Study (189)  |  Sufferer (2)  |  Trouble (25)  |  Vessel (12)

If popular medicine gave the people wisdom as well as knowledge, it would be the best protection for scientific and well-trained physicians.
— Rudolf Virchow
In Fielding Hudson Garrison, An Introduction to the History of Medicine (1966), 577.
Science quotes on:  |  Knowledge (749)  |  Medicine (196)  |  Physician (179)  |  Wisdom (96)

If the man of science chose to follow the example of historians and pulpit-orators, and to obscure strange and peculiar phenomena by employing a hollow pomp of big and sounding words, this would be his opportunity; for we have approached one of the greatest mysteries which surround the problem of animated nature and distinguish it above all other problems of science. To discover the relations of man and woman to the egg-cell would be almost equivalent of the egg-cell in the body of the mother, the transfer to it by means of the seed, of the physical and mental characteristics of the father, affect all the questions which the human mind has ever raised in regard to existence.
— Rudolf Virchow
Quoted in Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel, The Evolution of Man (1897), vol 1, 148.
Science quotes on:  |  Embryo (15)

If we would serve science, we must extend her limits, not only as far as our own knowledge is concerned, but in the estimation of others.
— Rudolf Virchow
Cellular Pathology, translated by Frank Chance (1860), x.
Science quotes on:  |  Knowledge (749)  |  Limit (37)  |  Science (998)

Imprisoned quacks are always replaced by new ones.
— Rudolf Virchow
In Fielding Hudson Garrison, An Introduction to the History of Medicine (1966), 577.
Science quotes on:  |  Physician (179)  |  Quack (9)

Laws should be made, not against quacks but against superstition.
— Rudolf Virchow
In Fielding Hudson Garrison, An Introduction to the History of Medicine (1966), 577.
Science quotes on:  |  Law (295)  |  Physician (179)  |  Quack (9)  |  Superstition (36)

Life itself is but the expression of a sum of phenomena, each of which follows the ordinary physical and chemical laws. (1845)
— Rudolf Virchow
In Jonathan Miller, Freud: the Man, his World, His Influence (1972), 25
Science quotes on:  |  Law (295)  |  Life (524)

Marriages are not normally made to avoid having children.
— Rudolf Virchow
Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine (1928), 4, 995.
Science quotes on:  |  Children (15)  |  Marriage (23)

Medicine is a social science, and politics is nothing else but medicine on a large scale. Medicine, as a social science, as the science of human beings, has the obligation to point out problems and to attempt their theoretical solution: the politician, the practical anthropologist, must find the means for their actual solution.
— Rudolf Virchow
(1848), in his weekly medical newspaper Die Medizinische Reform, 2. In Henry Ernest Sigerist, Medicine and Human Welfare, (1941) 93.
Science quotes on:  |  Medicine (196)  |  Politics (57)  |  Solution (119)

No doubt science cannot admit of compromises, and can only bring out the complete truth. Hence there must be controversy, and the strife may be, and sometimes must be, sharp. But must it even then be personal? Does it help science to attack the man as well as the statement? On the contrary, has not science the noble privilege of carrying on its controversies without personal quarrels?
— Rudolf Virchow
In his collected writings of 1861, preface. Quoted in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 75, 300.
Science quotes on:  |  Controversy (13)  |  Science (998)

Only those who regard healing as the ultimate goal of their efforts can, therefore, be designated as physicians.
— Rudolf Virchow
'Standpoints in Scientific Medicine', Disease, Life, and Man: Selected Essays (1958), 39.
Science quotes on:  |  Physician (179)

The body is a cell state in which every cell is a citizen. Disease is merely the conflict of the citizens of the state brought about by the action of external forces. (1858)
— Rudolf Virchow
From Die Cellularpathologie (1858). As cited in Alan Lindsay Mackay, A Dictionary of Scientific Quotations (1991), 250. Although widely quoted in this form, Webmaster has not yet been able to pin down the source of the translation in these few words. (It might be in Rudolph Virchow translated by Lelland J. Rather, Disease, Life, and Man: Selected Essays (1958), 142-9.) If you know the exact citation to the primary source, please contact Webmaster.
Science quotes on:  |  Body (105)  |  Cell (95)  |  Citizen (12)  |  Conflict (31)  |  Disease (174)  |  External (19)  |  Force (94)  |  State (43)

The personal views of the lecturer may seem to be brought forward with undue exclusiveness, but, as it is his business to give a clear exposition of the actual state of the science which he treats, he is obliged to define with precision the principles, the correctness of which he has proved by his own experience.
— Rudolf Virchow
Cellular Pathology, translated by Frank Chance (1860), xi.
Science quotes on:  |  Lecture (35)  |  Proof (149)

The physicians are the natural attorneys of the poor, and social problems fall to a large extent within their juristiction.
— Rudolf Virchow
Introductory article, Die medizinische Reform. In Henry Ernest Sigerist, Medicine and Human Welfare, (1941) 93.
Science quotes on:  |  Money (91)  |  Physician (179)

The task of science is to stake out the limits of the knowable, and to center consciousness within them.
— Rudolf Virchow
In Bernard E. Farber, A Teacher's Treasury of Quotations (1985), 264.
Science quotes on:  |  Knowledge (749)  |  Limit (37)  |  Science (998)

The task of science, therefore, is not to attack the objects of faith, but to establish the limits beyond which knowledge cannot go and found a unified self-consciousness within these limits.
— Rudolf Virchow
'On Man', Disease, Life, and Man: Selected Essays (1958), 83.
Science quotes on:  |  Knowledge (749)  |  Science And Religion (173)

There can be no scientific dispute with respect to faith, for science and faith exclude one another.
— Rudolf Virchow
'On Man', Disease, Life, and Man: Selected Essays (1958), 83.
Science quotes on:  |  Science And Religion (173)

We have no rational therapeutics.
— Rudolf Virchow
In Medical Century (1906), 14:11, 336.
Science quotes on:  |  Rational (20)  |  Therapy (9)

Quotes by others about Rudolf Virchow (2)

That ability to impart knowledge ... what does it consist of? ... a deep belief in the interest and importance of the thing taught, a concern about it amounting to a sort of passion. A man who knows a subject thoroughly, a man so soaked in it that he eats it, sleeps it and dreams it—this man can always teach it with success, no matter how little he knows of technical pedagogy. That is because there is enthusiasm in him, and because enthusiasm is almost as contagious as fear or the barber's itch. An enthusiast is willing to go to any trouble to impart the glad news bubbling within him. He thinks that it is important and valuable for to know; given the slightest glow of interest in a pupil to start with, he will fan that glow to a flame. No hollow formalism cripples him and slows him down. He drags his best pupils along as fast as they can go, and he is so full of the thing that he never tires of expounding its elements to the dullest.
This passion, so unordered and yet so potent, explains the capacity for teaching that one frequently observes in scientific men of high attainments in their specialties—for example, Huxley, Ostwald, Karl Ludwig, Virchow, Billroth, Jowett, William G. Sumner, Halsted and Osler—men who knew nothing whatever about the so-called science of pedagogy, and would have derided its alleged principles if they had heard them stated.
In Prejudices: third series (1922), 241-2.
For a longer excerpt, see H. L. Mencken on Teaching, Enthusiasm and Pedagogy.
Science quotes on:  |  Ability (47)  |  Attainment (26)  |  Barber (3)  |  Belief (161)  |  Theodor Billroth (2)  |  Concern (32)  |  Contagion (4)  |  Derision (2)  |  Dream (43)  |  Enthusiasm (23)  |  Fear (58)  |  Flame (14)  |  Formalism (4)  |  Glow (4)  |  William Stewart Halsted (2)  |  Thomas Henry Huxley (81)  |  Importance (122)  |  Interest (96)  |  Itch (4)  |  Benjamin Jowett (2)  |  Knowledge (749)  |  Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig (3)  |  Men Of Science (94)  |  News (7)  |  Sir William Osler (16)  |  Ostwald_Carl (2)  |  Passion (29)  |  Pupil (11)  |  Sleep (26)  |  Specialty (6)  |  Subject (65)  |  Teaching (69)  |  Value (76)

Pathology, probably more than any other branch of science, suffers from heroes and hero-worship. Rudolf Virchow has been its archangel and William Welch its John the Baptist, while Paracelsus and Cohnheim have been relegated to the roles of Lucifer and Beelzebub. … Actually, there are no heroes in Pathology—all of the great thoughts permitting advance have been borrowed from other fields, and the renaissance of pathology stems not from pathology itself but from the philosophers Kant and Goethe.
Quoted from an address to a second year class, in Levin L. Waters, obituary for Harry S. N. Greene, M.D., in Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine (Feb-Apr 1971), 43:4-5, 207.
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (60)  |  Beelzebub (2)  |  Borrowing (4)  |  Branch (30)  |  Field (78)  |  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (46)  |  Hero (12)  |  Immanuel Kant (29)  |  Philippus Aureolus Paracelsus (13)  |  Pathology (9)  |  Philosopher (75)  |  Renaissance (6)  |  Stem (7)  |  Suffering (21)  |  Worship (13)

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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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