I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) Russian novelist and moral philosopher
What Is Art?, ch. 14 (1896)

Quoted by Joseph Ford, Chaotic Dynamics and Fractals (1985) [ed. Barnsley and Demko] Alt. trans.: "I know that most men — not only those considered clever, but even those who are very clever and capable of understanding most difficult scientific, mathematical, or philosophic, problems — can seldom discern even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as obliges them to admit the falsity of conclusions they have formed, perhaps with much difficulty — conclusions of which they are proud, which they have taught to others, and on which they have built their lives." [tr. Maude (1930)]
Added on 10-Oct-06 | Last updated 7-Apr-11
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