Samuel Butler citations

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Samuel Butler

Date de naissance: 4. décembre 1835
Date de décès: 18. juin 1902

Samuel Butler était un écrivain britannique principalement connu pour sa satire Erewhon, ou De l’autre côté des montagnes. Wikipedia

„La vie est l’art de tirer des conclusions des prémisses insuffisantes.“

—  Samuel Butler

Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.
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„C'est beaucoup plus sûr de savoir trop peu que de savoir trop. Les gens condamneront les uns, mais ils en voudront aux autres à cause d'être obligés à se démener pour les atteindre.“

—  Samuel Butler

It is far safer to know too little than too much. People will condemn the one, though they will resent being called upon to exert themselves to follow the other.
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„Saint Antoine a tenté les démons autant qu’ils lui ont tenté, puisque son sainteté particulière était pour eux une tentation impossible de résister. A proprement parler, ce sont les démons qui devraient nous apitoyer, parce qu’ils ont été tentés par Saint Antoine et ils ont tombé, et il lui-même n’a pas tombé.“

—  Samuel Butler

St Anthony tempted the devils quite as much as they tempted him; for his peculiar sanctity was a greater temptation to tempt him than they could stand. Strictly speaking, it was the devils who were the more to be pitied, for they were led up by St Anthony to be tempted and fell, whereas St Anthony did not fall.
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„L'avantage de faire l'éloge de soi-même personnellement c'est qu'on peut insister autant qu'on veut sur précisément les aspects qu'on veut.“

—  Samuel Butler

The advantage of doing one’s praising for oneself is that one can lay it on so thick and exactly in the right places.
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„La vie n’est pas une devinette qu’on doit résoudre, mais plutôt un nœud gordien que sera coupé tôt ou tard.“

—  Samuel Butler

Life is not so much a riddle to be read as much as a Gordian knot that will get cut sooner or later.
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„La vie est une superstition. Pourtant, les superstitions ont quelque utilité: la coquille de l’escargot est une superstition, puisque la limace va très bien sans elle; mais un escargot sans coquille ne serait pas une limace, sauf qu’il avait aussi l’indifférence de la limace vis-à´vis la coquille.“

—  Samuel Butler

Life is a superstition. But superstitions are not without their value. The snail's shell is a superstition, slugs have no shells and thrive just as well. But a snail without a shell would not be a slug unless it had also the slug's indifference to a shell.
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„C'est facile d'avoir des avis plus justes quand tout le monde les a déjà.“

—  Samuel Butler

It's easy to have juster views when everybody else has them.
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„Il a été souvent remarqué, je crois, qu'une poule n'était seulement que le moyen qu'avait un œuf de fabriquer un autre œuf.“

—  Samuel Butler

It has, I believe, been often remarked, that a hen is only an egg's way of making another egg.
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„La vie est comme la musique: pour la composer on doit s’orienter par l’oreille, le sentiment et l’instinct, non par les règles. Néanmoins, c’est mieux de les connaître, parce que parfois elles aident dans des cas douteuses – quoique pas souvent.“

—  Samuel Butler

Life is like music, it must be composed by ear, feeling and instinct, not by rule. Nevertheless one had better know the rules, for they sometimes guide in doubtful cases, though not often
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„On peut tous faire des grandes choses, si on sait qu’est-ce qu’une grande chose.“

—  Samuel Butler

All men can do great things, if they know what great things are.
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„An idea must not be condemned for being a little shy and incoherent; all new ideas are shy when introduced first among our old ones.“

—  Samuel Butler

Incoherency of New Ideas
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912), Part XIV - Higgledy-Piggledy
Contexte: An idea must not be condemned for being a little shy and incoherent; all new ideas are shy when introduced first among our old ones. We should have patience and see whether the incoherency is likely to wear off or to wear on, in which latter case the sooner we get rid of them the better.

„The written law is binding, but the unwritten law is much more so.“

—  Samuel Butler

The Law
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912), Part VII - On the Making of Music, Pictures, and Books
Contexte: The written law is binding, but the unwritten law is much more so. You may break the written law at a pinch and on the sly if you can, but the unwritten law — which often comprises the written — must not be broken. Not being written, it is not always easy to know what it is, but this has got to be done.

„There is an eternal antagonism of interest between the individual and the world at large.“

—  Samuel Butler

The Individual and the World
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912), Part I - Lord, What is Man?
Contexte: There is an eternal antagonism of interest between the individual and the world at large. The individual will not so much care how much he may suffer in this world provided he can live in men’s good thoughts long after he has left it. The world at large does not so much care how much suffering the individual may either endure or cause in this life, provided he will take himself clean away out of men’s thoughts, whether for good or ill, when he has left it.

„If I were to start as a God or a prophet I think I should take the line: "Thou shalt not believe in me. Thou shalt not have me for a God.“

—  Samuel Butler

Samuel Butler's Notebooks (1912) self censored "d_____d" in original publication
Contexte: It is the manner of gods and prophets to begin: "Thou shalt have none other God or Prophet but me." If I were to start as a God or a prophet I think I should take the line: "Thou shalt not believe in me. Thou shalt not have me for a God. Thou shalt worship any d_____d thing thou likest except me." This should be my first and great commandment, and my second should be like unto it.

„As a general rule philosophy is like stirring mud or not letting a sleeping dog lie.“

—  Samuel Butler

Philosophy
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912), Part XX - First Principles
Contexte: As a general rule philosophy is like stirring mud or not letting a sleeping dog lie. It is an attempt to deny, circumvent or otherwise escape from the consequences of the interlacing of the roots of things with one another.

„I do not like having to try to make myself like things; I like things that make me like them at once and no trying at all.“

—  Samuel Butler

On Knowing what Gives us Pleasure, ii
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912), Part XIII - Unprofessional Sermons
Contexte: I should like to like Schumann’s music better than I do; I dare say I could make myself like it better if I tried; but I do not like having to try to make myself like things; I like things that make me like them at once and no trying at all.

„To think of a thing they must be got rid of: they are the clothes that thoughts wear—only the clothes. I say this over and over again, for there is nothing of more importance.“

—  Samuel Butler

Life and Habit http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext04/lfhb10h.htm, ch. 5 (1877)
Contexte: "Words, words, words," he writes, "are the stumbling-blocks in the way of truth. Until you think of things as they are, and not of the words that misrepresent them, you cannot think rightly. Words produce the appearance of hard and fast lines where there are none. Words divide; thus we call this a man, that an ape, that a monkey, while they are all only differentiations of the same thing. To think of a thing they must be got rid of: they are the clothes that thoughts wear—only the clothes. I say this over and over again, for there is nothing of more importance. Other men's words will stop you at the beginning of an investigation. A man may play with words all his life, arranging them and rearranging them like dominoes. If I could think to you without words you would understand me better."

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