FridayMar 07, 2014
It is not knowledge, but the act of learning, not possession but the act of getting there, which grants the greatest enjoyment. When I have clarified and exhausted a subject, then I turn away from it, in order to go into darkness again. The never-satisfied man is so strange; if he has completed a structure, then it is not in order to dwell in it peacefully, but in order to begin another. I imagine the world conqueror must feel thus, who, after one kingdom is scarcely conquered, stretches out his arms for others.
Mathematics is the queen of the sciences.
There are problems to whose solution I would attach an infinitely greater importance than to those of mathematics, for example touching ethics, or our relation to God, or concerning our destiny and our future; but their solution lies wholly beyond us and completely outside the province of science.
A reply to Olbers' attempt in 1816 to entice him to work on Fermat's Theorem. I confess that Fermat's Theorem as an isolated proposition has very little interest for me, because I could easily lay down a multitude of such propositions, which one could neither prove nor dispose of. 
I am coming more and more to the conviction that the necessity of our geometry cannot be demonstrated, at least neither by, nor for, the human intellect.... Geometry should be ranked, not with arithmetic, which is purely aprioristic, but with mechanics.
God does arithmetic.
A great part of its [higher arithmetic] theories derives an additional charm from the peculiarity that important propositions, with the impress of simplicity on them, are often easily discovered by induction, and yet are of so profound a character that we cannot find the demonstrations till after many vain attempts; and even then, when we do succeed, it is often by some tedious and artificial process, while the simple methods may long remain concealed.
I have had my results for a long time: but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them.
If others would but reflect on mathematical truths as deeply and as continuously as I have, they would make my discoveries.
I mean the word proof not in the sense of the lawyers, who set two half proofs equal to a whole one, but in the sense of a mathematician, where half proof = 0, and it is demanded for proof that every doubt becomes impossible.
His motto: Few, but ripe.
We must admit with humility that, while number is purely a product of our minds, space has a reality outside our minds, so that we cannot completely prescribe its properties a priori.
His second motto: Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy laws my services are bound....
Finally, two days ago, I succeeded not on account of my hard efforts, but by the grace of the Lord. Like a sudden flash of lightning, the riddle was solved. I am unable to say what was the conducting thread that connected what I previously knew with what made my success possible.
Theory attracts practice as the magnet attracts iron.
You know that I write slowly. This is chiefly because I am never satisfied until I have said as much as possible in a few words, and writing briefly takes far more time than writing at length.
It may be true that people who are merely mathematicians have certain specific shortcomings; however, that is not the fault of mathematics, but is true of every exclusive occupation.
While working, when informed that his wife is dying: Ask her to wait a moment I am almost done.