Attribution of Schopenhauer's Three Stages of Truth

HappyMonday

Moderator
Attribution to Schopenhauer of Three Stages of Truth

"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

This quote keeps cropping up in conversation with conspiracy types, and is often incorrectly attributed to Arthur Schopenhauer.

The following document examines the history of the quote, and the use of the 'stages of truth' device in detail.
https://cs.uwaterloo.ca/~shallit/Papers/stages.pdf (attached)

Whilst Schopenhauer may be the first person to suggest 'stages of truth' in 1818, the quote in wide circulation appears to have evolved much later.


 

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  • Science, Pseudoscience, and The Three Stages of Truth.pdf
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
That's an excellent bit of quote debunking there by Shallit. Unfortunately debunking a quote does not really stop people from using it.

The common usage of this quote often forgets that it's getting to the third stage that qualifies something as truth, not the first.

I like to juxtapose it with this real quote:

Which Shallit also references on the first page.
 

HappyMonday

Moderator
That's an excellent bit of quote debunking there by Shallit. Unfortunately debunking a quote does not really stop people from using it.

The common usage of this quote often forgets that it's getting to the third stage that qualifies something as truth, not the first.

I like to juxtapose it with this real quote:

Which Shallit also references on the first page.

I agree, and that Sagan line is gold.

The fruit in the other thread is the third time today I've seen the subject quote, glad it prompted me to search.
 

MikeC

Closed Account
Whether you be a genius or not - to fulfill these 3 stages you first need to have something that is actually true.

Bozo is/was/will be, after all, a comic genius :)
 

Apogej

Member
Three stages of truth have nothing to do with Schopenhauer. This famous truth came from greatest peacemaker ever:;

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

Mahatma Gandhi
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Three stages of truth have nothing to do with Schopenhauer. This famous truth came from greatest peacemaker ever:;

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

Mahatma Gandhi
https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Mahatma_Gandhi#Disputed
 

Herman Aven

Member
That translation leaves a lot to be desired. A better one which keeps logic, flow and meaning intact will follow. Keep in mind that translating languages just literary will often not keep the many inferences intact which for a native speaker are implicit but might have to be more explicit in a translation for a broader audience.

The truth is always destined to have only one brief victory parade between two long time spans in which it's first being condemned as paradoxical and then belittled as trivial.​

The attribution therefore is not literal but paraphrastic. While it's not clear why that has happened, the basic meaning has been left intact while the interesting emphasis of the shortness of the middle stage disappeared. So it would be indeed good to reintroduce the original text again.
 

skephu

Senior Member.
Usually when you debunk the source of a quotation, people will reply "ok, he may not have said it, but it's true anyway".
 
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