We have made a magnificent compilation of the 89 best phrases of intelligence, understanding and knowledge pronounced by great celebrities.

You might be interested in: “The 12 types of intelligence: which do you possess?”

What famous quotes talk about intelligence?

In this list you will find many quotes from authors and thinkers as well known as Einstein, Voltaire, Francis Bacon, Anaxagoras, Plato, Goethe…

As you can see, it’s about
a selection of the good and the best among all the thoughts about intelligence , thanks to writers, scientists, psychologists and philosophers whose legacy is incomparable.

The best phrases of intelligence, knowledge and intellectuality

Are you ready for these smart, thoughtful dates? Let’s get started.

1. An individual’s intelligence is measured by the amount of uncertainty he or she is capable of withstanding (Immanuel Kant)

The French philosopher draws an interesting parallel about intelligence and what it is good for us to possess it.

2. A wise man will seek more opportunities than he has (Francis Bacon)

Smart people are able to see beyond the obvious.

3. Someone intelligent learns from the experience of others (Voltaire)

We continue with one of the architects of the French Revolution.
Voltaire finds that intelligence is the ability to learn and apply knowledge we acquire from abroad.

4. Thought is the horse, reason is the rider (Aurore Dupin)

Thought and reasoning, two sides of the same coin.

5. Only intelligence examines itself (Jaime Balmes)

The ability to evaluate oneself is an inherent characteristic of intelligence.

6. Intelligences that are not very capable are interested in the extraordinary; powerful intelligences, in ordinary things (Victor Hugo)

A famous quote for deep reflection, from the great
Victor Hugo .

7. Most people are like pins: their heads are not the most important thing (Jonathan Swift)

The Irish writer left us this fine irony about ignorant people.

8. While the foolish decide, the intelligent deliberate (Plutarch)

Ancient Greece left us indispensable phrases about wisdom.

9. Time is the only capital of people who have nothing but their intelligence by chance (Honoré de Balzac)

What is the relationship between time management and intelligence? The French author explains it to us.

10. The madmen open the roads that later the wise men walk (Carlo Dossi)

The step towards great discoveries is not made by the most intelligent, but by the most daring.

11. Science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind (Albert Einstein)

An intriguing thought left to us by the Jewish physicist.

12. Sight must learn from reason (Johannes Kepler)

Perception can deceive us; reason is constantly reflecting on and questioning reality.

13. It is not that the genius is a century ahead of his time, it is humanity that is a hundred years behind him (Robert Musil)

The great thinkers live in a society that is intellectually hostile to their approaches.

14. Man is elevated by intelligence, but is not a man except by the heart (Henry F. Amiel)

An interesting reflection of
Henry F. Amiel .

15. The truths revealed by intelligence remain sterile. Only the heart is capable of fertilizing dreams (Anatole France)

The Nobel Prize in Literature
Anatole France , on the essential guide to completing major projects.

16. When we do not understand something, it must be declared absurd or superior to our intelligence, and generally, the first determination is made (Concepción Arenal)

Why do we insist on throwing away everything we don’t understand?

17. Intelligence and common sense make their way with few artifices (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

You don’t need a lot of marketing or paraphernalia if you have superior ingenuity.

18. Science is the Aesthetics of Intelligence (Gaston Bachelard)

Science and ingenuity, always hand in hand to encourage the construction of new knowledge.

19. At certain times, the only way to be right is to lose it (José Bergamín)

One skill of the wise is to know how to backtrack when his approaches are not adequate.

20. How is it that, being so smart, children are so stupid, most men? It must be the result of education (Alexander Dumas)

Logically, humans are the product of what we learn. And if what we learn isn’t grounded enough…

21. Just as iron oxidizes due to lack of use, so does inactivity destroy the intellect (Leonardo da Vinci)

Our brain needs activity and practice. Otherwise, our cognitive faculties decline.

22. The philosopher always goes on foot. He prefers the staff of experience to the fast chariot of fortune (Pythagoras)

A good reflection on speed, intelligence and fortune.

23. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited and imagination surrounds the world (Albert Einstein)

An ode to creativity, above the (perhaps) overrated intellectual capacity.

24. The origin of men’s intelligence lies in their hands (Anaxagoras)

The hands, tools that allow us to know the reality to later evaluate it.

25. Curiosity is one of the most permanent and secure characteristics of a vigorous intelligence (Samuel Johnson)

English Literature
Samuel Johnson claims curiosity as the genesis of intelligence.

26. Just as the eyes of bats are blinded by the light of day, so the intelligence of our soul is blinded by the things that are evident (Aristotle)

Aristotle , in an approach reminiscent of the myth of the cave of his master Plato.

27. It is the field of science to speak and the privilege of wisdom to listen (Oliver Wendell Holmes)

Practicing intelligence means being permeable to the stimuli we capture from the outside.

28. By the defects of others the wise man corrects his own (Publilio Sito)

When we see defects and vices in others, we are prone to point them out with acrimony. But are we able to learn not to commit them?

29. The human brain is like a coin-operated machine. If you pour impure metal into it, you will get dross; if you pour gold, you will get coinage (Santiago Ramon y Cajal)

The importance of feeding our brains well, based on books and knowledge that help us understand the world better.

30. Military intelligence are two contradictory terms (Groucho Marx)

The anti-war, comic and thinker
Groucho Marx left us this fine reflection.

31. It is better to know something about everything, than to know everything about only one thing (Blaise Pascal)

Having a lot of knowledge about a small piece of reality can make us technicians, but never thinkers.

32. Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when you only have one (Émile Chartier)

Chartier , against sectarianism and ideas without a wide knowledge and reflection.

33.Every man is a story like no other (Alexis Carrel)

The French doctor and writer left us this profound quote to show that every human life is unique.

34.When one’s expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one has (Stephen Hawking)

Only when we are left with nothing are we able to assess how lucky we are.

35. I only know that I know nothing (Socrates)

A classic phrase that opposes wisdom and ignorance.

36. Intelligence and beauty: great rarity (Anonymous)

An anonymous phrase from the popular saying.

37.The primary obligation of intelligence is to distrust it (Stanislaw Jeay Lec)

A phrase that is in line with similar ones in the list. Intelligence unfailingly requires constant scrutiny of reality, and even of intelligence itself.

38.When it is understood that the human condition is the imperfection of understanding, it is no longer shameful to err, but to persist in error (George Soros)

The tycoon
George Soros reveals how persistence is the key to success.

39.What we know is a drop of water; what we ignore is the ocean (Isaac Newton)

Wisdom is only an ideal, since as human beings what we ignore will always be much more than what we know.

40. It takes great knowledge only to realize the enormity of one’s ignorance (Thomas Sowell)

Famous quote in the line of the previous one. We ignore much more than we know.

41.He knows everything, absolutely everything. Imagine how silly he will be (Miguel de Unamuno)

And another phrase about the inability of the human being to know no more than a small part of existence.

42.Wisdom comes to us when it is no longer useful (Gabriel García Márquez)

The Colombian writer finds a clue: when we know something, it’s probably no longer useful to us.

43.The foolish one who recognizes his folly is a wise one. But a fool who thinks himself wise is indeed a fool (Buddha)

We leave you with another compilation, in this case about Buddha’s phrases and Buddhism.

44.What the wise want, he seeks in himself; what the common man wants, he seeks in others (Confucius)

Intelligence drinks from the outside to create and recreate itself on the inside. Excellent phrase from
Confucius .

45.He who looks wise among fools looks foolish among the wise (Marco Fabio Quintiliano )

Depending on the context in which we move, we can be perceived as very intelligent… or not so intelligent.

46.The wise have the same advantages over the ignorant as the living have over the dead (Aristotle)

Aristotle values in this way the gift of being wiser than ordinary mortals.

47.Brains, like hearts, go where they are appreciated (Robert McNamara)

When states suffer a brain drain, perhaps it is because they are not knowing how to care for the talent of young people. Talent always travels as far as it is allowed to flap its wings.

48.Intelligence: know yourself, accept yourself, overcome yourself (St. Augustine)

St. Augustine offers us three basic pieces of advice to develop our intelligence.

49.Most would rather pay for entertainment than for instruction (Robert Savage)

The culture of leisure and entertainment leaves little room for us to develop our intellectual concerns.

50. When you point to the moon, the fool stares at your finger (Chinese proverb)

One of the signs of intelligence is, precisely, knowing how to have a good overview of the issues, and knowing how to discriminate between the essential and the accessory.

51.Happiness is the rarest thing I know in intelligent people (Ernest Hemingway)

Are intelligent people happy?
Hemingway bets on “no”.

52.Anger is a gust of wind that blows out the lamp of intelligence (Robert Ingersoll)

People moved by anger and revenge cannot find good ways to make their intelligence bear fruit.

53.The measure of intelligence is the ability to change (Anonymous)

Certainly, the ability to grow as a person is what defines us as individuals with a great inner life.

54.Intelligence is useful for everything, sufficient for nothing (Henry Frederic Amiel)

Being smart is useful, but it’s just a tool. You have to know how to use it to generate positive things.

55.Creativity requires having the courage to let go of certainties (Erich Fromm)

The great psychoanalyst Erich Fromm relates creativity to the lack of prejudice and preconceived ideas.

56. I can’t understand why people are afraid of new ideas. I’m scared of the old ones (John Cage)

Ideas are constantly moving and changing. The logical thing is to learn to understand and value both the old and the new proposals.

57. Open schools and close prisons (Concepción Arenal)

Another famous quote from the great Spanish realist writer. More education means better ideas and less misery.

58.When you speak, try to make your words better than silence (Hindu proverb)

If your words don’t add up to anything interesting, it’s better not to waste your breath. A wise Indian proverb.

59.He who does not understand a look will not understand a long explanation either (Arabic proverb)

Knowledge is sometimes found in details that seem to make no logical sense.

60.The difference between foolish men and talented men is usually that the former say foolish things and the latter commit them (Mariano José de Larra)

An interesting paradox described by the Spanish writer of manners.

61.Being an intellectual generates a lot of questions and no answers (Janis Joplin)

The singer Janis Joplin , on the “trade” of intellectual.

62.Climb the mountain just a little bit, to see if it is a mountain. From the top of the mountain, you will not be able to see the mountain (Frank Herbert)

Another famous quote that explains the importance of taking perspective in order to understand anything we want to analyze accurately.

63. My ideas are of an indisputable logic; the only thing that makes me doubt is that they have not been applied previously (Antoni Gaudí)

The Catalan artist and architect only doubted his genius for this curious reason.

64.Don’t just teach your children to read, teach them to question what they read, teach them to question everything (George Carlin)

To doubt everything, to be sceptical, is the fundamental basis of intelligence.

65.The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working as soon as we get up and doesn’t stop working until we enter the office (Robert Frost)

A funny reflection that can make us think about the time we “waste” in the office.

66. Memory is the intelligence of fools (Albert Einstein)

When creativity and ingenuity are lacking, memory can be used to recall data and stories. But that’s cheating.

67.I think intelligence is usually sexy until it becomes irritating. After that, they hit him (Jim Parsons)

American actor Jim Parsons talks about the stigma of people with high IQ.

68.Intelligence and Will Work Together Against Vice (Fasto Cayo)

Simple phrase but with a powerful message. Vice only triumphs if intelligence and will stop fighting it.

69.Intelligence is what you use when you don’t know what to do (Jean Piaget)

Psychologist Jean Piaget has a rather interesting definition of what intellectual capacity is (and what it is for).

70.Increased knowledge depends entirely on the existence of disagreement (Karl Popper)

Knowledge is based on the discrepancy between opposing opinions. Phrase of the Austrian sociologist Karl Popper.

71.There are two infinite things: the universe and human stupidity. Of the first one I’m not completely sure (Albert Einstein)

A mythical phrase where there are any. Einstein reveals that human ignorance is absolutely omnipresent.

72.The faculty of choosing the essential points of the problems is the difference that exists between cultivated and non-cultivated spirits (Dale Carnegie)

The American entrepreneur and author Dale Carnegie knew that in order to solve problems it is first necessary to know them well and design strategies to be able to influence them.

73. The dangerous criminal is the educated criminal (Gilbert Chesterton)

Crimes of passion are always easy to detect and condemn, but clever criminals are always several steps ahead of justice and law enforcement.

74. Thinking is like living twice (Marcus Tullius Cicero)

A quote from the Roman politician and philosopher, freely interpreted.

75.An intelligent man, walking on foot, arrives sooner than a fool in a car (Delphine de Girardin)

Another sentence that emphasizes the importance of intelligence in order to draw good roadmaps towards the goals we have set.

76. To know others is wisdom, to know oneself is enlightenment (Lao Tse)

One of the phrases about knowledge from one of the great referents of Chinese philosophy, Lao Tse.

77. A good head and a good heart are always formidable combinations (Nelson Mandela)

A reminder of the need to leave no flank unfulfilled.

78. Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who argue with you (John Wooden)

To obtain knowledge there is nothing like exercising the mind by debating .

79. Beware of false knowledge, it is more dangerous than ignorance (George Bernard Shaw)

Lack of knowledge can be remedied, but false beliefs can be more difficult to dismantle.

80. What matters is not what you look at, but what you see (Henry David Thoreau)

Another perfect example of one of the phrases about knowledge that emphasizes our ability to interpret.

81. The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination (Albert Einstein)

Mental flexibility is expressed through the use of imagination.

82. Knowledge begins in wonder (Socrates)

The whole process of becoming wiser starts with a feeling that is outside of rationality.

83. Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change (Stephen Hawking)

One of the phrases about intelligence that provides a clearer definition of it .

84. Ingenuity is well-mannered insolence (Aristotle)

The creativity behind the ingenuity can be uncomfortable.

85. Common sense is genius in work clothes (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

A way of seeing the potential in something as simple as common sense.

86. I am a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will (Antonio Gramsci)

A reflection that points to a kind of contradiction that creates tension in many people’s way of thinking.

87. Silence is the best answer of authentic wisdom (Euripides)

Silence also has value in itself, and is an attitude by which the intellect is expressed .

88. The best academics are often not the wisest people (Geoffrey Chaucer)

Success in academia does not imply being especially wise in most areas of life.

89. Knowledge comes, but wisdom is entertained (Alfred Lord Tennyson)

Wisdom is more than the accumulation of information.