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A collection of offbeat and wonderful quotes by John Forbes Nash Jr. on mathematics, numbers, economics, history, research etc.

37 Offbeat & Wonderful Quotes By John Forbes Nash Jr.

Famous As: Mathematician

Born On: June 13, 1928

Died On: May 23, 2015

Born In: Bluefield

Died At Age: 86

John Forbes Nash Jr., the only person to receive both Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and Abel Prize, did not have it easy. A brilliant mathematician from the very start, he wrote many ground-breaking papers before he began to show signs of paranoia, being institutionalized for protracted periods for the ailment.  After his release, he began where he left, eventually publishing his seminal work on game theory, now known as Nash equilibrium. In his interviews, talks and essays, he has talked openly not only about his works, but also about his life, his mental illness and recovery. Let us look at some of his thought provoking quotes mathematics, numbers, economics, history, research etc.

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Nowadays we can do computer experiments using Mathematica, and even solve a system of 42 equations. This offers another route to knowledge, rather than mere ideas.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

It's better to be dead, or even perfectly well, than to suffer from the wrong affliction. The man who owns up to arthritis in a beri-beri year is as lonely as a woman in a last month's dress.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

In a dream it's typical not to be rational.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

Rationality of thought imposes a limit on a person's concept of his relation to the cosmos.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

As you will find in multivariable calculus, there is often a number of solutions for any given problem.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

I have made the most important discovery of my career, the most important discovery of my life: It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logic or reasons can be found.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

I don't think exactly like a professional economist. I think about economics and economic ideas, but somewhat like an outsider.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

The dollar used to be a gold standard currency. And the dollar is really good in the last century, I mean in the 19th century.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

The ideas I had about supernatural beings came to me the same way that my mathematical ideas did. So I took them seriously.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

I know that if I could really understand mental illness, then it would be appropriate to make a big career shift. I would become a therapist and a leader in terms of mental illness. But I'm not in the position.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

I did have strange ideas during certain periods of time.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

I seem to be thinking rationally again in the style that is characteristic of scientists. However, this is not entirely a matter of joy as if someone returned from physical disability to good physical health.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

I was on the mathematics faculty at M.I.T. from 1951 through until I resigned in the spring of 1959.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

In a dream it's typical not to be rational.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

There are things that tend to moderate with age. Schizophrenia is somewhat like that.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

I later spent... five to eight months in hospitals in New Jersey, always on an involuntary basis, and always attempting a legal argument for release.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

I would finally renounce my delusional hypotheses and revert to thinking of myself as a human of more conventional circumstances and return to mathematical research.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

If things are not so good, you may be one to imagine something better. For me, I was able to imagine myself as in a role of greater importance than I would seem to be ordinarily.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

It's almost as if a demon might have passed from one host to another.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

I never saw my grandfather because he had died before I was born, but I have good memories of my grandmother and of how she could play the piano at the old house.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

To some extent, people who are insane are nonconformists, and society and their family wish they would live what appear to be useful lives.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

Though I had success in my research both when I was mad and when I was not, eventually I felt that my work would be better respected if I thought and acted like a 'normal' person.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

I can see there's a connection between not following normal thinking and doing creative thinking. I wouldn't have had good scientific ideas if I had thought more normally.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

In madness, I thought I was the most important person in the world.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

You don't have to be a mathematician to have a feel for numbers.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

I would not dare to say that there is a direct relation between mathematics and madness, but there is no doubt that great mathematicians suffer from maniacal characteristics, delirium, and symptoms of schizophrenia.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

People are always selling the idea that people with mental illness are suffering. I think madness can be an escape. If things are not so good, you maybe want to imagine something better.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

I think mental illness or madness can be an escape also. People don't develop a mental illness because they are in the happiest of situations, usually. One doctor observed that it was rare when people were rich to become schizophrenic. If they were poor or didn't have too much money, then it was more likely.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

It has had a tremendous impact on my life, more than on the life of most Prize winners, because I was in an unusual situation. I was unemployed at the time. I was in good health, but I had reached the age of 66 and beginning to get social security, but I didn't have much of that. I had many years of unemployment before me.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

I can observe the game theory is applied very much in economics. Generally, it would be wise to get into the mathematics as much as seems reasonable because the economists who use more mathematics are somehow more respected than those who use less. That's the trend.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

I was the most important person of the world, and people like the Pope would be just like enemies, who would try to put me down in some way or another, or the president. People are always selling the idea that people who have mental illness are suffering.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

I went to M.I.T. in the summer of 1951 as a 'C.L.E. Moore Instructor.' I had been an instructor at Princeton for one year after obtaining my degree in 1950. It seemed desirable more for personal and social reasons than academic ones to accept the higher-paying instructorship at M.I.T.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

You could see how money is different all of a sudden in Italy when they had the lire and now they have the euro. So they, in a revolutionary way, have gone from bad money to good money comparatively. But what about the rest of the world?

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

As a graduate student I studied mathematics fairly broadly, and I was fortunate enough, besides developing the idea which led to 'Non-Cooperative Games,' also to make a nice discovery relating to manifolds and real algebraic varieties.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

Of course, the American education system is very inefficient in many ways compared to other countries in Europe or Japan, but it works in such a way that at least the few people who are going onto unusual careers and science can manage to get into that, even though they go through an earlier stage that doesn't give them much.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

Gradually I began to intellectually reject some of the delusionally influenced lines of thinking which had been characteristic of my orientation. This began, most recognizably, with the rejection of politically-oriented thinking as essentially a hopeless waste of intellectual effort.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

I had been offered fellowships to enter as a graduate student at either Harvard or Princeton. But the Princeton fellowship was somewhat more generous, since I had not actually won the Putnam competition... Thus Princeton became the choice for my graduate study location.

John Forbes Nash, Jr.