Quotable #89: Abstraction


“What, then, is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms – in short, a sum of human relations, which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.” — Freidrich Neitzsche, “On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense”, 1873, quoted in Walter Kaufmann, The Portable Nietzsche, 1976

“The pursuit of truth is just a polite name for the intellectual’s favorite pastime of substituting simple and therefore false abstractions for the living complexities of reality.” — Aldous Huxley, Point Counter Point, 1928

“You can define a net two ways, depending on your point of view. Normally you would say it is a meshed instrument designed to catch fish. But you could, with no great injury to logic, reverse the image and define the net as a jocular lexicographer once did: he called it a collection of holes tied together with string.” — Julian Barnes, Flaubert’s Parrot, 1984

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My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com

4 thoughts on “Quotable #89: Abstraction

    1. Have you read Genealogy of Morals. A section of it essentially talked about trolling. Also, Nietsche had written a lot of vague aphorisms that can be twisted to mean many things. After some clever editing, his sister was able to turn his writings in such a way that they would become a source of antisemitism texts during the early 20th cemtury. And of course, internet trolls like to quote his aphorisms to “prove” their points.

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