Monday, June 11, 2012

Notes from My Notebook 3

We’ve all probably heard the quote from Isaac Newton about him saying modestly that he ‘had stood on the shoulders of giants’ in making his amazing scientific discoveries.
Well, a Blog I subscribe to from the Societies for the History of Economic Thought (SHOE), of which I have referred to several times on Lost Legacy and which can run long series of argumentative scholars about issues great and small, has produced an interesting discussion about who originated the famous quote normally attributed to Newton, kicked-off by a contributor suggesting that it was something that Charles Darwin had said. (Yes, I know I should get out more).

Here is this lively contribution from Dr Steven Kates, of the School of Economics, Finance, and Marketing RMIT University, Melbourne:“while the quote is most often attributed to Newton, the final authority on everything, Wikipedia, provides another provenance entirely. The quote is moreover provided in both English and Latin and the date they give is 1159:
"Bernard of Chartres used to say that we are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size."
"Dicebat Bernardus Carnotensis nos esse quasi nanos, gigantium humeris insidentes, ut possimus plura eis et remotiora videre, non utique proprii visus acumine, aut eminentia corporis, sed quia in altum subvenimur et extollimur magnitudine gigantea." … unless of course someone knows better.


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