The funny thing about quotes is that you can find anything said by an eminent personality that proves your point. History has produced numerous philosophers and genius thinkers who have made a variety of contradictory statements. Some have contradicted their intellectual rivals and some have even contradicted themselves.
Another risk of using famous quotes to prove your point is that the person reading the quote may not have the proper context in his mind and end up interpreting the sentence in a totally different manner.
Nevertheless, famous quotes are famous for a reason. Einstein’s quotes aren’t famous just because Einstein said them. In fact, many of the aphorisms attributed to Einstein weren’t even uttered by him. The famous quotes have the tendency to get etched in our memory because they pack the right combination of the words to convey a powerful idea in the most efficient manner. They may not be true but they make you think.
A quote has served its purpose if it makes you think. Whether you agree with it is something you can decide after you have worked out your own mental muscles by giving it an independent thought. That’s why reading a book of quotes can be a very rewarding experience. Especially, if the book has been written by your favourite author. Nassim Taleb, known for writing thick and idea-dense books, has also authored a relatively less known book called The Bed of Procrustes. He writes –
Aphorisms, maxims, proverbs, short sayings, even, to some extent, epigrams are the earliest literary form – often integrated into what we now call poetry. They carry the cognitive compactness of the sound bite….Aphorisms require us to change our reading habits and approach them in small doses; each one of them is a complete unit, a complete narrative dissociated from others.
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