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Jonathan Swift quotes on knowledge and reason

Jonathan Swift valued knowledge and prided himself as a man of reason. It dismayed him that people were not governed more by reason and were too quick to act on prejudice and self interest.

He also felt the people of his time were too willing to take the easy, shallow option towards knowledge and culture, rather in the same way that some people today criticise what they see as the ‘dumbing down of society’.

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Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.
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Reason is a very light rider, and easily shook off.
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A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart.
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Jonathan Swift quote. The bulk of mankind is as well equipped for flying as thinking. Image copyright Ireland Calling
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That the universe was formed by a fortuitous concourse of atoms, I will no more believe than that the accidental jumbling of the alphabet would fall into a most ingenious treatise of philosophy.
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There is nothing in this world constant, but inconstancy.
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There’s none so blind as they that won’t see.

Jonathan Swift quote. There is none so blind as they that won't see. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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A wise man is never less alone than when he is alone.
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The greatest inventions were produced in the times of ignorance, as the use of the compass, gunpowder, and printing.
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Take a strict view of their excrements, and, from the colour, the odour, the taste, the consistence, the crudeness or maturity of digestion, form a judgment of their thoughts and designs; because men are never so serious, thoughtful, and intent, as when they are at stool.
Cartoon illustration of shamrocks. Image copyright Ireland Calling
…reasoning will never make a man correct an ill opinion, which by reasoning he never acquired…
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We of this age have discovered a shorter, and more prudent method to become scholars and wits, without the fatigue of reading or of thinking.Pedantry is properly the over-rating of any kind of knowledge we pretend to.
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Those dreams that on the silent night intrude, and with false flitting shapes our minds delude … are mere productions of the brain. And fools consult interpreters in vain.
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Jonathan Swift quote. It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into. Image copyright Ireland Calling
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How is it possible to expect mankind to take advice when they will not so much as take warning?
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What some invent the rest enlarge.
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So Geographers in Afric-maps
With Savage-Pictures fill their Gaps;
And o’er uninhabitable Downs
Place Elephants for want of Towns.

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