physical influence that tends to cause an object to change motion unless opposed by other forces

In the physical sciences, a force is any influence which causes objects or energy flows to undergo a change in speed, direction, shape or power levels; in the fields of social laws, the word force commonly has two main meanings: unlawful violence and lawful compulsion.

By the force of truth I have conquered the universe. ~ Anonymous


Only he who has measured the dominion of force, and knows how not to respect it, is capable of love and justice. ~ Simone Weil
Agni-II missile (Republic Day Parade 2004) : The danger is becoming greater. As the arsenals of the superpowers grow in size and sophistication and as other governments—perhaps even, in the future, dozens of governments—acquire these weapons, it may be only a matter of time before madness, desperation, greed or miscalculation lets loose the terrible force.
Jimmy Carter
  • But now, instead of discussion and argument, brute force rises up to the rescue of discomfited error, and crushes truth and right into the dust. "Might makes right," and hoary folly totters on in her mad career escorted by armies and navies.
    • Adin Ballou, Christian Non-Resistance: In All its Important Bearings, Illustrated and Defended (1846).
  • Violence is the repartee of the illiterate.
  • Force is no remedy.
  • The wish to hurt, the momentary intoxication with pain, is the loophole through which the pervert climbs into the minds of ordinary men.
  • The use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment; but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again; and a nation is not governed, which is perpetually to be conquered.
  • The danger is becoming greater. As the arsenals of the superpowers grow in size and sophistication and as other governments—perhaps even, in the future, dozens of governments—acquire these weapons, it may be only a matter of time before madness, desperation, greed or miscalculation lets loose the terrible force.
    • Jimmy Carter, as quoted in The Watchtower magazine, (15 August 1981)
  • Force cannot be explained without stating a law of nature concerning momentum, viz.:—
    Suppose a body with a certain momentum to be the only body in the universe; it will go on with the same momentum.
    The case of bodies in contact is no exception to this law, but only a particular case. Here the change of motion is called pressure. The case of bodies not in contact is illustrated by the motion of the earth about the sun [under the force of gravitation, as we call it].
    In all cases change of motion is connected by invariable laws with the position of surrounding bodies. Force, then, has a definite direction [at every instant] at any point in space, and depends on the position of surrounding bodies, and may be described as the change of momentum of a body considered as depending upon its position relative to other things. It embodies the quality of direction as well as magnitude. In other words, it is a quantity having direction. ...Force, defined as above, is not conserved at all. It may appear and disappear; it is continually being created and destroyed. "Conservation of force" is, mathematically speaking, a contradiction in terms.
    • William Kingdon Clifford, "Energy and Force" (Mar 28, 1873) A previously unpublished lecture by Prof. Clifford before members of the Royal Institution, as described in Nature (May-Oct, 1880) Vol. 22, p. 123. with an introduction by J. F. Moulton.
  • What we know as moral forces are even more important than guns and battleships. These forces would constantly grow stronger if nations relied upon them and cultivated them instead of the munitions of warfare.
    • Clarence Darrow, The Story of My Life. New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1932.
  • Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in point of fact, religious.
    • Albert Einstein, in response to atheist Alfred Kerr in the winter of 1927, who after deriding ideas of God and religion at a dinner party in the home of the publisher Samuel Fischer, had queried him "I hear that you are supposed to be deeply religious" as quoted in The Diary of a Cosmopolitan (1971) by H. G. Kessler, p. 157
  • Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding. You cannot subjugate a nation forcibly unless you wipe out every man, woman, and child. Unless you wish to use such drastic measures, you must find a way of settling your disputes without resort to arms.
    • Albert Einstein, in a speech to the New History Society (14 December 1930), reprinted in "Militant Pacifism" in Cosmic Religion (1931). Also found in The New Quotable Einstein by Alice Calaprice, p. 158
  • An autocratic system of coercion, in my opinion, soon degenerates. For force always attracts men of low morality, and I believe it to be an invariable rule that tyrants of genius are succeeded by scoundrels.
  • I am strongly drawn to the simple life and am often oppressed by the feeling that I am engrossing an unnecessary amount of the labour of my fellow-men. I regard class differences as contrary to justice and, in the last resort, based on force. I also consider that plain living is good for everybody, physically and mentally.
  • Churches and universities — insofar as they live up to their true function — serve the ennoblement of the individual. They seek to fulfill this great task by spreading moral and cultural understanding, renouncing the use of brute force.
    • Albert Einstein, "Moral Decay" (1937); later published in Out of My Later Years (1950)
  • There are many changes in what concepts are important when we go from classical to quantum mechanics. ... In particular, the force concept gradually fades away, while the concepts of energy and momentum become of paramount importance. You remember that instead of particle motions, one deals with probability amplitudes which vary in space and time. In these amplitudes there are wavelengths related to momenta, and frequencies related to energies. The momenta and energies, which determine the phases of wave functions, are therefore the important quantities in quantum mechanics. Instead of forces, we deal with the way interactions change the wavelength of the waves. The idea of a force becomes quite secondary—if it is there at all. When people talk about nuclear forces, for example, what they usually analyze and work with are the energies of interaction of two nucleons, and not the force between them. Nobody ever differentiates the energy to find out what the force looks like.
  • La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure.
  • Personally I do not resort to force — not even the force of law — to advance moral reforms. I prefer education, argument, persuasion, and above all the influence of example — of fashion. Until these resources are exhausted I would not think of force.
    • Rutherford B. Hayes, on attempts at an alcohol prohibition amendment, in his Diary (9 October 1883) Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes (1922 - 1926), edited by Charles Richard Williams
  • Why are human beings so obsequious, ready to kill and ready to die at the call of kings and chieftains? Perhaps it is because they worship might, venerate those who command might, and are convinced that it is by force that man prevails. The splendor and the pride of kings blind the people.
  • Vis consili expers mole ruit sua.
    • Brute force without judgement collapses under its own weight
    • Horace, in Odes
  • The laws of motion of visible and tangible, or molar, matter had been worked out to a great degree of refinement and embodied in the branches of science known as Mechanics, Hydrostatics, and Pneumatics. These laws had been shown to hold good... throughout the universe on the assumption that all such masses of matter possessed inertia and were susceptible of acquiring motion, in two ways, firstly by impact, or impulse from without; and, secondly, by the operation of certain hypothetical causes of motion termed 'forces,' which were usually supposed to be resident in the particles of the masses themselves, and to operate at a distance, in such a way as to tend to draw any two such masses together, or to separate them more widely.
  • To all appearance, the phenomena exhibited by the pendulum are not to be accounted for by impact: in fact, it is usually assumed that corresponding phenomena would take place if the earth and the pendulum were situated in an absolute vacuum, and at any conceivable distance from one another. If this be so, it follows that there must be two totally different kinds of causes of motion: the one impact—a vera causa [true cause], of which, to all appearance, we have constant experience; the other, attractive or repulsive 'force'—a metaphysical entity which is physically inconceivable.
    • Thomas Henry Huxley, 'The Advance of Science in the Last Half-Century (1889)
  • Newton expressly repudiated the notion of the existence of attractive forces, in the sense in which that term is ordinarily understood; and he refused to put forward any hypothesis as to the physical cause of the so-called 'attraction of gravitation.'
    • Thomas Henry Huxley, 'The Advance of Science in the Last Half-Century (1889)
  • It seems safe to look forward to the time when the conception of attractive and repulsive forces, having served its purpose as a useful piece of scientific scaffolding, will be replaced by the deduction of the phenomena known as attraction and repulsion, from the general laws of motion.
  • A riot is at the bottom the language of the unheard.
  • Roger Smith: A negotiator only uses force as a last resort.
    • Chiaki Konaka, The Big O The Greatest Villain
  • Whenever you employ a force of any sort, to carry a point of real importance, reject all nice calculations of economy. Better to be a thousand per cent over the mark, than the smallest fraction of a unit under it.
  • There is little to choose morally between beating up a man physically and beating him up mentally.
  • Let there be no violence in religion.
  • The idea that Anarchy can be inaugurated by force is as fallacious as the idea that it can be sustained by force. Force cannot preserve Anarchy; neither can it bring it.
    • Benjamin Tucker, Individual Liberty: Selections From the Writings of Benjamin R. Tucker, Passive Resistance. Vanguard Press, New York, 1926. Online text.
  • Where force is necessary, one should make use of it boldly, resolutely, and right to the end. But it is as well to know the limitations of force; to know where to combine force with manoeuvre, assualt with conciliation.
  • Vencer no es convencer.
    • To conquer is not to convince.
    • Variant: Hatred without compassion cannot win minds, to conquer is not to convince.
      • As quoted in Spanish Recognitions : The Roads to the Present (2004) by Mary Lee Settle, p. 134
  • He who does not realize to what extent shifting fortune and necessity hold in subjection every human spirit, cannot regard as fellow-creatures nor love as he loves himself those whom chance separated from him by an abyss. The variety of constraints pressing upon man give rise to the illusion of several distinct species that cannot communicate. Only he who has measured the dominion of force, and knows how not to respect it, is capable of love and justice.
    • Simone Weil, "The Iliad or The Poem of Force" (1940-1941) in Simone Weil : An Anthology (1986) edited by Siân Miles, p. 192
  • Der imperialistische Machtgedanke muß, von welcher Seite er auch kommen möge, für alle Zeit unschädlich gemacht werden.
    • The imperialist ideology of force, from whatever side it comes, must be shattered for all time.

See also

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