„Translated: Human stupidity is international.“

—  Kurt Tucholský, "Hégésippe Simon" http://www.zeno.org/Literatur/M/Tucholsky,+Kurt/Werke/1931/H%C3%A9g%C3%A9sippe+Simon (1931); also in Schnipsel, published 1973, p. 102.
Original

Die menschliche Dummheit ist international.

„Schnipsel“, 1973, S. 102. Auch in Gesammelte Werke Band 3, Hrsg. Mary Gerold-Tucholsky, Rowohlt 1960, Seite 970 Google Books

Kurt Tucholský photo
Kurt Tucholský7
German-Jewish journalist, satirist and writer 1890 - 1935
Advertisement

Related quotes

James A. Garfield photo
Robert A. Heinlein photo
Advertisement
Markus Zusak photo
Bertrand Russell photo
Orson Scott Card photo
Albert Einstein photo

„Two things are infinite: the universe and the human stupidity.“

—  Albert Einstein German-born physicist and founder of the theory of relativity 1879 - 1955
As discussed in this entry from The Quote Investigator http://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/05/04/universe-einstein/#more-173, the earliest published attribution of a similar quote to Einstein seems to have been in Gestalt therapist Frederick S. Perls' 1969 book Gestalt Theory Verbatim, where he wrote on p. 33: "As Albert Einstein once said to me: 'Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity.' But what is much more widespread than the actual stupidity is the playing stupid, turning off your ear, not listening, not seeing." Perls also offered another variant in his 1972 book In and Out the Garbage Pail, where he mentioned a meeting with Einstein and on p. 52 http://books.google.com/books?id=HuxFAAAAYAAJ&q=human+stupidity#search_anchor quoted him saying: "Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I am not yet completely sure about the universe." However, Perls had given yet another variant of this quote in an earlier book, Ego, Hunger, and Aggression: a Revision of Freud’s Theory and Method (originally published 1942, although the Quote Investigator only checked that the quote appeared in the 1947 edition), where he attributed it not to Einstein but to a "great astronomer", writing: "As modern times promote hasty eating to a large extent, it is not surprising to learn that a great astronomer said: 'Two things are infinite, as far as we know – the universe and human stupidity.' To-day we know that this statement is not quite correct. Einstein has proved that the universe is limited." So, the later attributions in 1969 and 1972 may have been a case of faulty memory, or of intentionally trying to increase the authority of the quote by attributing it to Einstein. The quote itself may be a variant of a similar quote attributed even earlier to the philosopher Ernest Renan, found for example in The Public: Volume 18 from 1915, which says on p. 1126 http://books.google.com/books?id=cTPmAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA1126#v=onepage&q&f=false: "He quotes the saying of Renan: it isn't the stars that give him an idea of infinity; it is man's stupidity." (Other examples of similar attributions to Renan can be found on this Google Books search http://www.google.com/search?q=renan+infinity+stupidity&btnG=Search+Books&tbm=bks&tbo=1.) Renan was French so this is presumably intended as a translation, but different sources give different versions of the supposed original French quote, such as "La bêtise humaine est la seule chose qui donne une idée de l'infini" (found for example in Réflexions sur la vie, 1895-1898 by Remy de Gourmont from 1903, p. 103 http://books.google.com/books?id=RtrtAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA103#v=onepage&q&f=false, along with several other early sources as seen in this search http://www.google.com/search?q=%22humaine+est+la+seule+chose+qui%22+renan&btnG=Search+Books&tbm=bks&tbo=1) and "Ce n'est pas l'immensité de la voûte étoilée qui peut donner le plus complétement l'idée de l'infini, mais bien la bêtise humaine!" (found in Broad views, Volume 2 from 1904, p. 465 http://books.google.com/books?id=9NEaAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA465#v=onepage&q&f=false). Since these variants have not been found in Renan's own writings, they may represent false attributions as well. They may also be variants of an even older saying; for example, the 1880 book Des vers by Guy de Maupassant includes on p. 9 http://books.google.com/books?id=cQUvAAAAMAAJ&pg=PP21#v=onepage&q&f=false a quote from a letter (dated February 19, 1880) by Gustave Flaubert where Flaubert writes "Cependant, qui sait? La terre a des limites, mais la bêtise humaine est infinie!" which translates to "But who knows? The earth has its boundaries, but human stupidity is infinite!" Similarly the 1887 book Melanges by Jules-Paul Tardivel includes on p. 273 http://books.google.com/books?id=n9cOAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA273#v=onepage&q&f=false a piece said to have been written in 1880 in which he writes "Aujourd'hui je sais qu'il n'y a pas de limites à la bêtise humaine, qu'elle est infinie" which translates to "today I know that there is no limit to human stupidity, it is infinite." Variant: "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Earliest version located is in Technocracy digest: Issues 287–314 from 1988, p. 76 http://books.google.com/books?id=L7LnAAAAMAAJ&q=%22sure+about+the+former%22#search_anchor. Translated to German as: "Zwei Dinge sind unendlich: das Universum und die menschliche Dummheit. Aber beim Universum bin ich mir nicht ganz sicher." (Earliest version located is Arndt-Michael Meyer, Die Macht der Kürze, Books on Demand GmbH, 2004, p. 14 http://books.google.gr/books?id=12DW-RBKTW8C&pg=PA14&dq=%22Zwei+Dinge+sind+unendlich:+das+Universum+und+die+menschliche+%22+arnd&hl=en&sa=X&ei=gquJUsrYBomM7AapmYGgCQ&ved=0CC8Q6wEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22Zwei%20Dinge%20sind%20unendlich%3A%20das%20Universum%20und%20die%20menschliche%20%22%20arnd&f=false.)

Aldous Huxley photo
Nicolás Gómez Dávila photo
Advertisement
Philip Pullman photo
Michel De Montaigne photo
David Lloyd George photo
Advertisement
Alfred Korzybski photo

„To regard human beings as tools — as instruments — for the use of other human beings is not only unscientific but it is repugnant, stupid and short sighted.“

—  Alfred Korzybski Polish scientist and philosopher 1879 - 1950
Context: To regard human beings as tools — as instruments — for the use of other human beings is not only unscientific but it is repugnant, stupid and short sighted. Tools are made by man but have not the autonomy of their maker — they have not man's time-binding capacity for initiation, for self-direction, and self-improvement. p. 133. Chapter: Capitalistic Era.

Willem Roelofs photo

„[a landscape painter cannot do with] being stupid-natural.... all that art would be [made] in vain if the feeling stayed away. (translation from original Dutch: Fons Heijnsbroek)“

—  Willem Roelofs Dutch painter and entomologist (1822-1897) 1822 - 1897
(original Dutch: citaat van Willem Roelofs, in het Nederlands:) Het doel, het streven van de kunst, is als dat van de muziek, te ontroeren; in onze geest gewaarwordingen te doen ontstaan.. [een landschapschilder kan niet volstaan met] stom-natuurlijk te zijn.. ..al die kunst zou ijdel zijn, als het gevoel weg bleef. 2 short quotes of W. Roelofs in a letter to his pupil , 8 June 1886; as cited in Willem Roelofs 1822-1897. De adem der natuur, ed. M. van Heteren and R. te Rijdt; exposition catalog of Museum Jan Cunen, Oss / Kunsthal Rotterdam, 2006, p. 50

Jeff Lindsay photo
Jeff Lindsay photo