The Wisdom of Leeuwenhoek, Janitor and Dry Goods Proprietor, Courtesy of Paul De Kruif

Regarding the advancement of science by universities.

The professors and students of the University of Leydon were long ago dazzled by my discoveries; they hired three lens grinders to come to teach the students, but what came of it? Nothing, so far as I can judge, for almost all of the courses they teach are for the purpose of getting money through knowledge or for gaining the respect of the world by showing people how learned you are, and these things have nothing to do with the discovering of things that are buried from our eyes. I am convinced that of a thousand people not one is capable of carrying out such studies, because endless time is needed and much money is spilled and because a man has always to be busy with his thoughts if anything is to be accomplished…

On the burdens of instructing others.

I never taught a [student], because if I taught one, I’d have to teach others… I would give myself over to slavery, whereas I want to stay a free man.

Regarding truth

My determination is not to remain stubbornly with my own ideas but I’ll leave them and go over to others as soon as I am shown plausible reasons which I can grasp. This is the more true since I have no other purpose that to place truth before my eyes so far as it is in my power to embrace it; and to use the little talent I have received to draw the wolrd away from its old heathenish superstitions and to go over to the truth and to stick to it.

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