Quotations about   improbability

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There are cases in which the greatest daring is the greatest wisdom.

[Es giebt Fälle, wo das höchste Wagen die höchste Weisheit ist.]

Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) Prussian soldier, historian, military theorist
On War [Vom Kriege], Book 2, ch. 5 “Critical Analysis [Kritik]” (1832) [tr. Graham (1874)]
    (Source)

(Source (German)). Alternate translation:

There are times when the utmost daring is the height of wisdom. [tr. Howard & Paret (1984)]

Added on 4-Aug-22 | Last updated 4-Aug-22
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And this actually makes sense, in the way Agathon puts it: “As you might expect, many improbable things do happen.”

[ἔστιν δὲ τοῦτο καὶ εἰκὸς ὥσπερ Ἀγάθων λέγει, εἰκὸς γὰρ γίνεσθαι πολλὰ καὶ παρὰ τὸ εἰκός.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Poetics [Περὶ ποιητικῆς, De Poetica], ch. 18 / 1456a (c. 335 BC) [tr. Whalley (1997)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Such an event is probable in Agathon’s sense of the word: "It is probable," he says, "that many things should happen contrary to probability."
[tr. Butcher (1895)]

This is probable, however, only in Agathon's sense, when he speaks of the probability of even improbabilities coming to pass.
[tr. Bywater (1909)]

And there is a probability about such a results, for, as Agathon says, the improbable has a tendency to occur.
[tr. Margoliouth (1911)]

And this, as Agathon says, is a likely result, since it is likely that many quite unlikely things should happen.
[tr. Fyfe (1932)]

This is even probable, as Agathon says; for it is probable that many things will happen even against probability.
[tr. Janko (1987), sec. 4.3.7]

And this actually makes sense, in the way Agathon puts it: "As you might expect, many improbable things do happen."
[tr. Whalley (1997)]

And this is even likely in the sense in which Agathon speaks of it, since it is likely that many things happen contrary to what is likely.
[tr. Sachs (2006)]

This is not improbable, since, as Agathon remarks, it is probable that many improbable things should happen.
[tr. Kenny (2013)]

Added on 17-Sep-08 | Last updated 10-May-21
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