Experience as a general concept comprises knowledge of or skill in or observation of some thing or some event gained through involvement in or exposure to that thing or event.
- The dog [in Pavlov's experiments] does not continue to salivate whenever it hears a bell unless sometimes at least an edible offering accompanies the bell. But there are innumerable instances in human life where a single association, never reinforced, results in the establishment of a life-long dynamic system. An experience associated only once with a bereavement, an accident, or a battle, may become the center of a permanent phobia or complex, not in the least dependent on a recurrence of the original shock.
- Gordon Allport A Psychological Interpretation (1938), p. 199.
- The condition of all progress is experience. We go wrong a thousand times before we find the right path.
- Felix Adler, Life and Destiny (1913), Section 8 : Suffering and Consolation
- Experience is a good teacher, but she sends in terrific bills.
- Minna Antrim, Naked Truth and Veiled Allusions, p. 99 (1901).
- Experience can be merely the repetition of same error often enough.
- John G. Azzopardi, Problems in Breast Pathology, W.B. Saunders Company Ltd London . Philadelphia – Toronto, p. 113 (1979).
- Experience is a private, and a very largely speechless affair.
- James Baldwin, in Notes of a Native Son (1955). "A Question of Identity," Partisan Review (New Brunswick, New Jersey, July/August 1954).
- Because he never raises his eyes to the great and the meaningful, the philistine has taken experience as his gospel. It has become for him a message about life's commonness. But he has never grasped that there exists something other than experience, that there are values—inexperiencable—which we serve.
- Walter Benjamin, "Experience" (1913) as translated by L. Spencer and S. Jost, in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Vol. 1 (1996), p. 4
- Experience, n. The wisdom that enables us to recognise in an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1881–1906).
- The generation to which Einstein, Bohr and I belong, was taught that there exists an objective physical world, which unfolds itself according to immutable laws independent of us; we are watching this process as the audience watches a play in a theatre. Einstein still believes that this should be the relation between the scientific observer and his subject. Quantum mechanics, however, interprets the experience gained in atomic physics in a different way.
- Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
- Rita Mae Brown, Alma Mater (2001). (The same or a closely similar quote is attributed to too many earlier writers to list, including Will Rogers.)
- Oh, who can tell, save he whose heart hath tried?
- Lord Byron, The Corsair (1814), Canto I, Stanza 1.
- Experience is the teacher of all things.
- Experience is a dim lamp, which only lights the one who bears it.
- Louis-Ferdinand Céline, interview in Writers at Work, Third Series, ed. George Plimpton (1967).
- Experience is a great spoiler of pleasures.
- Mason Cooley, City Aphorisms, Fourth Selection, New York (1987).
- Experience may be a bitter teacher, but She is a good one.
- Every experience is a paradox in that it means to be absolute, and yet is relative; in that it somehow always goes beyond itself and yet never escapes itself.
- T. S. Eliot, Eliot's doctoral dissertation in philosophy; submitted to Harvard in 1916. Knowledge and Experience in the Philosophy of F.H. Bradley, Chapter 7, Columbia University Press (1964).
- Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.
- Benjamin Franklin, Maxims prefixed to Poor Richard's Almanac (1757).
- A gram of experience is worth a ton of theory.
- Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, Saturday Review (1859).
- Experience is not a matter of having actually swum the Hellespont, or danced with the dervishes, or slept in a doss-house. It is a matter of sensibility and intuition, of seeing and hearing the significant things, of paying attention at the right moments, of understanding and coordinating. Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.
- Aldous Huxley, Texts and Pretexts, introduction (1932).
- Experience is never limited, and it is never complete; it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider-web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness, and catching every air-borne particle in its tissue.
- Henry James, The Art of Fiction (1884).
- 'Pure experience' is the name I gave to the immediate flux of life which furnishes the material to our later reflection with its conceptual categories.
- William James, The Thing and Its Relations, Essays in Radical Empiricism (1912).
- Let us then take in our hands the staff of experience... To be blind and to think that one can do without this staff is the worst kind of blindness.
- There is a large stock on hand; but somehow or other, nobody's experience ever suits us but our own.
- Letitia Elizabeth Landon Romance and Reality (1831), Vol III, page 97
- The way to recover the meaning of life and the worthwhileness of life is to recover the power of experience, to have impulse voices from within, and to be able to hear these impulse voices from within — and make the point: This can be done.
- Abraham Maslow As quoted in The Meaning of Life : According to the Great and the Good (2007) edited by Richard T. Kinnier
- Experience, next, to thee I owe,
Best guide; not following thee, I had remain'd
In ignorance; thou open'st wisdom's way,
And giv'st access, though secret she retire.
- Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.
- Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture (2008)
- By and by people learn how not to believe, how not to trust, how to become chronic doubters. And this happens so slowly, in such small doses that you are never alert to what is happening to you. By the time it has happened, it is too late. This is what people call "experience". They call a person experienced if he has lost his contact with his heart: they say that he is a very experienced man, very clever, very cunning, nobody can deceive him.
- Osho, Life, Love, Laughter: Celebrating Your Existence (2009)
- You could never teach other people anything that mattered. The important things they had to learn for themselves, almost always by making mistakes, so that the lessons arrived too late to help. Experience was in that sense useless. It was precisely what could not be passed along in a lesson.
- Kim Stanley Robinson, Galileo's Dream (2009), Chapter 20, p. 513–514.
- Experience is the cane of the blind.
- Jacques Roumain, Masters of the Dew, p. 83, Les Éditeurs Français Réunis (1946).
- Experience comprises illusions lost, rather than wisdom gained.
- Joseph Roux, Meditations of a Parish Priest, pt. 4, no. 28 (1886).
- Experience is a mere whiff or rumble, produced by enormously complex and ill-deciphered causes of experience; and in the other direction, experience is a mere peephole through which glimpses come down to us of eternal things.
- George Santayana, letter to the Marchesa Iris Origo (May 1933) The Letters of George Santayana, ed. Daniel Cory (1955).
- ...what we call education and culture is for the most part nothing but the substitution of reading for experience, of literature for life, [and] of the obsolete fictitious for the contemporary real...
- I shall the effect of this good lesson keep,
As watchman to my heart.
- I know
The past and thence I will essay to glean
A warning for the future, so that man
May profit by his errors, and derive
Experience from his folly;
For, when the power of imparting joy
Is equal to the will, the human soul
Requires no other heaven.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, Queen Mab (1813), III, line 6.
- Experientia docet.
- Experience teaches.
- Tacitus, Annales (AD 117), Book V. 6.
- The experience of every past moment but belies the faith of each present.
- Henry David Thoreau, letter to Lidian Jackson Emerson (June 20, 1843); in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 6, p. 88, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
- There are those who imagine that the unlucky accidents of life—life's "experiences"—are in some way useful to us. I wish I could find out how. I never know one of them to happen twice. They always change off and swap around and catch you on your inexperienced side.
- Mark Twain, "Taming the Bicycle" (1917).
- Experience needs distance and what you write of at a distance tells not so much what you were like as what you have discovered since.
- David Wade, On the BBC production I, William Shakespeare, London Times (May 8, 1982).
- Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
- Experience is a wonderful teacher, but one whose lessons come too late.
- Gene Wolfe, The Book of the Short Sun, Volume 2: In Green's Jungles (2000), Ch. 1.
- Experience is a good teacher, but a hard one. She gives the test first and the lesson afterward.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 244-45.
- Suffering brings experience.
- Æschylus, Agamemnon, 185.
- Behold, we live through all things,—famine, thirst,
Bereavement, pain; all grief and misery,
All woe and sorrow; life inflicts its worst
On soul and body,—but we cannot die,
Though we be sick, and tired, and faint, and worn,—
Lo, all things can be borne!
- Elizabeth Akers Allen, Endurance.
- By experience we find out a shorter way by a long wandering. Learning teacheth more in one year than experience in twenty.
- Roger Ascham, Schoolmaster.
- It is costly wisdom that is bought by experience.
- Roger Ascham, Schoolmaster.
- A sadder and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Ancient Mariner, Part VII. Last St.
- To show the world what long experience gains,
Requires not courage, though it calls for pains;
But at life's outset to inform mankind
Is a bold effort of a valiant mind.
- George Crabbe, Borough, Letter VII, line 47.
- In her experience all her friends relied,
Heaven was her help and nature was her guide.
- George Crabbe, Parish Register, Part III.
- Tu proverai si come sa di sale
Lo pane altrui, e com' è duro calle
Lo scendere e'l salir per l'altrui scale.
- Thou shalt know by experience how salt the savor is of other's bread, and how sad a path it is to climb and descend another's stairs.
- Dante Alighieri, Paradiso, XVII. 58.
- Only so much do I know, as I have lived.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oration, The American Scholar.
- Experience is no more transferable in morals than in art.
- James Anthony Froude, Short Studies on Great Subjects, Education.
- Experience teaches slowly, and at the cost of mistakes.
- James Anthony Froude, Short Studies on Great Subjects, Party Politics.
- We read the past by the light of the present, and the forms vary as the shadows fall, or as the point of vision alters.
- James Anthony Froude, Short Studies on Great Subjects, Society in Italy in the Last Days of the Roman Republic.
- Experience join'd with common sense,
To mortals is a providence.
- Matthew Green, The Spleen, line 312.
- I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience.
- Patrick Henry, speech at the Virginia Convention (March 23, 1775).
- Stultorum eventus magister est.
- Experience is the teacher of fools.
- Livy, Annales, XXII. 39.
- One thorn of experience is worth a whole wilderness of warning.
- James Russell Lowell, Among my Books, Shakespeare Once More.
- Semper enim ex aliis alia proseminat usus.
- Experience is always sowing the seed of one thing after another.
- Marcus Manilius, Astronomica, I. 90.
- What man would be wise, let him drink of the river
That bears on his bosom the record of time;
A message to him every wave can deliver
To teach him to creep till he knows how to climb.
- John Boyle O'Reilly, Rules of the Road.
- Who heeds not experience, trust him not.
- John Boyle O'Reilly, Rules of the Road.
- Nam in omnibus fere minus valent præcepta quam experimenta.
- In almost everything, experience is more valuable than precept.
- Quintilian, De Institutione Oratorio, II. 5. 5.
- I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravl'd world whose margin fades
Forever and forever when I move.
- Alfred Tennyson, Ulysses. (Free rendering of Dante's Inferno, Canto XVI).
- And others' follies teach us not,
Nor much their wisdom teaches,
And most, of sterling worth, is what
Our own experience preaches.
- Alfred Tennyson, Will Waterproof; Lyrical Monologue.
- Experto crede Roberto.
- Believe Robert who has tried it.
- A proverb quoted by Robert Burton, introduction to Anatomy of Melancholy, Common in the middle ages. Experto crede Ruberto is given as a saying in a discourse of Ulricus Meliter to Sigismond, Archduke of Austria (1489). Same in Coronis—Apolog. pro Erasmus Coll. First version is in an epitaph in an old chapel of Exeter College. (1627). Le Roux de Lincy traces it to Gomès de Trier, Jardin de Recreation (1611).
- Learn the lesson of your own pain—learn to seek God, not in any single event of past history, but in your own soul—in the constant verifications of experience, in the life of Christian love.
- Mrs. Humphry Ward, Robert Elsmere, Chapter XXVII.
- Da dacht ich oft: schwatzt noch so hoch gelehrt,
Man weiss doch nichts, als was man selbst erfährt.
- I have often thought that however learned you may talk about it, one knows nothing but what he learns from his own experience.
- Christoph Martin Wieland, Oberon, II. 24.
Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989)
- Rulers, Statesmen, Nations, are wont to be emphatically commended to the teaching which experience offers in history. But what experience and history teach is this—that peoples and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it. Each period is involved in such peculiar circumstances, exhibits a condition of things so strictly idiosyncratic, that its conduct must be regulated by considerations connected with itself, and itself alone.
- Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, The Philosophy of History, trans. J. Sibree, vol. 10, Introduction, p. 6 (1899).
- I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.
- Patrick Henry, speech to the Virginia Convention, Richmond, Virginia, March 23, 1775. William Wirt, Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry, 9th ed., p. 138–39 (1836, reprinted 1970). Language altered to first person.
- Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over, and I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.
- Martin Luther King, Jr., address to sanitation workers, Memphis, Tennessee, April 3, 1968. The New York Times, April 5, 1968, p. 24. Dr. King made this statement the day before his assassination in Memphis.
- We know nothing of what will happen in future, but by the analogy of experience.
- Abraham Lincoln, speech on the sub-Treasury, in the hall of the House of Representatives, Springfield, Illinois, December 26, 1839. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, ed. Roy P. Basler, vol. 1, p. 166 (1953).
- If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience!
- George Bernard Shaw, appendix 2 to Man and Superman, "Maxims for Revolutionists," in his Selected Plays with Prefaces, vol. 3, p. 742 (1948).
- We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it—and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again—and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.
- Mark Twain, Following the Equator, vol. 1 (vol. 5 of The Writings of Mark Twain), chapter 11, epigraph, p. 125 (1897, reprinted 1968).
- I've seen the elephant, and I've heard the owl, and I've been to the other side of the mountain.
- Author unknown. "'Seeing the elephant,' though it has pre– and post–gold rush currency, was an immensely popular expression among the overlanders [those journeying in covered wagons to Oregon and California] … connoting, in the main, experiencing hardship and difficulty and somehow surviving. Emigrant diaries and letters are filled with humorous references to that ubiquitous animal." John D. Unruh, Jr., The Plains Across: The Overland Emigrants and the Trans-Mississippi West, 1840–60, chapter 4, p. 443, note 22 (1979).