A few days ago I decided to have a closer look at goodreads’ quotes and how that part of the site worked. I have now added a little more than 1000 quotes to my personal quote collection on the site, many (literally hundreds) of which are quotes I have added myself to the goodreads quote library. Most of them are naturally quotes taken from the blog – the quote collection I have here is still far larger than is my goodreads collection, but at least in terms of the ‘better than average quotes’ posted here on the blog I do believe I’ve transferred/duplicated a rather substantial proportion of those quotes to goodreads by now.
Although some aspects of the site’s functionality is nice, I thoroughly dislike other aspects of the way the goodreads site works and handles specific problems. Wikiquote has for a long time been my go-to place for quotes, and it’ll remain so for the foreseeable future, barring any sudden unexpected changes of a profoundly negative nature. A really huge problem I have with the way goodreads handles these things is that if a specific quote contains an error, e.g. is missing a comma or is attributed to the wrong person, you cannot correct the error yourself, even if you know it’s an error and you literally sit there with the book in front of you, and to make matters (much) worse you often cannot even add a new quote with correct attribution; if a new quote you add is ‘sufficiently similar’ to an erroneous/misattributed quote already added to the site, you trying to add a correct quote will only lead to you automatically ‘liking’ the original flawed quote you were annoyed about and the corrected quote you tried to add will not be added. I’m still quite annoyed that one of Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach‘s really nice maxims on goodreads have been attributed by some ignorant £$@! to Jane Austen, but that’s just one of several examples I’ve encountered. There are multiple cases where I have decided not to add a specific quote because I refuse on principle to ‘like’ a quote containing an error, and/but there are also a few cases where I have bit the metaphorical bullet, after some thought, and liked a quote despite it not matching perfectly the version of the quote with which I was myself familiar (this has mostly been in the case of quotes by non-English speaking individuals, where at least some leeway can be argued to exist on account of issues pertaining to translation). I found it somewhat irritating that some really quite notable people seem to not be considered notable on goodreads (notability is a requirement for quotation, and goodreads does not allow anonymous quotes/proverbs etc. in the quotes section); for example I found myself trying in vain to add a quote by a Nobel Prize winner in Physics at some point, but the guy hadn’t written any books added to the site and so when trying to add the name after having written out the quote I realized I couldn’t do that; at least it was not immediately obvious to me how to handle this problem, and so I let it go on account of it being just one quote. Books with multiple authors also cause some problems (one specific one of which I’ve now at least partially figured out how to handle, fortunately), and books with many contributors still pose questions to which I do not know the answer; it doesn’t seem to me like the goodreads site in its current format even enables you theoretically in any way to attribute quotes taken from such books correctly – at least I haven’t found out how to do it.
So all in all I’m not particularly impressed with the site in terms of how it handles quotes, but on the other hand if you’re less interested in adding obscure quotes by people almost nobody alive today have ever heard about than I am, and would rather just like an easy way to collect/manage/remember quotes you happen to like, the site’s probably not really bad at all; it’s very easy to add new quotes to your collection if the quote is already in the goodreads library (it takes a little bit of work if it’s not). You can let my collection be a starting point if you like the sort of quotes I do; I know a few people in the past have said that they liked the quotes I’ve posted on the blog and now you have a quite easy way to just ‘grab’ those of ‘my’ quotes (quotes are posted anonymously on goodreads, so the quotes I have added are no more my quotes than they are yours) you like, and leave the rest.
Below I’ve added the 20 new quotes I usually post in my regular quotes posts, all of which (as far as I have been able to ascertain) have not been posted here before.
i. “Though what we accept be true, it is a prejudice unless we ourselves have considered and understood why and how it is true.” (John Lancaster Spalding)
ii. “However firmly thou holdest to thy opinions, if truth appears on the opposite side, throw down thy arms at once.” (-ll-)
iii. “The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly, is to fill the world with fools.” (Herbert Spencer)
iv. “We often do not see what we do not expect to see.” (Alan Lightman)
v. “The past and future are veiled; but the past wears the widow’s veil; the future, the virgin’s.” (Jean Paul Richter)
vi. “There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.” (Robert Louis Stevenson)
vii. “Science may be described as the art of systematic over-simplification — the art of discerning what we may with advantage omit.” (Karl Popper)
viii. “I hold that he who teaches that not reason but love should rule opens up the way for those who rule by hate.” (-ll-)
ix. “You cannot have a rational discussion with a man who prefers shooting you to being convinced by you.” (-ll-)
x. “There is an almost universal tendency, perhaps an inborn tendency, to suspect the good faith of a man who holds opinions that differ from our own opinions.” (-ll-)
xi. “Always remember that it is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood: there will always be some who misunderstand you.” (-ll-)
xii. “The more we learn about the world, and the deeper our learning, the more conscious, specific, and articulate will be our knowledge of what we do not know, our knowledge of our ignorance.” (-ll-)
xiii. “Methodological rules are for science what rules of law and custom are for conduct.” (Émile Durkheim)
xiv. “Men apt to promise, are apt to forget.” (Thomas Fuller)
xv. “Since people of necessity see things from their own perspective, much of what they say adds up to comforting ideas or outright propaganda for themselves and the groups to which they belong.” (Patricia Crone, Pre-Industrial Societies: Anatomy of the Pre-Modern World)
xvi. “… humans are animals. It would not occur to an ethologist studying ants, lions, wolves or giraffes to argue that ‘ultimately’ it is the animal’s need for food which determines the type of society in which it lives, or its need to reproduce, or its mechanisms of defence against predators, or whatever. On the contrary, he will see the society in question as the outcome of a compromise between a variety of fundamental needs and the environment in which it is set. Precisely the same is true of human societies. […] all attempts to explain human history in terms of a single factor are misguided.” (-ll-)
xvii. “Science doesn’t purvey absolute truth. Science is a mechanism. It’s a way of trying to improve your knowledge of nature. It’s a system for testing your thoughts against the universe and seeing whether they match.” (Isaac Asimov)
xviii. “Where any answer is possible, all answers are meaningless.” (-ll-)
xix. “There are no happy endings in history, only crisis points that pass.” (-ll-)
xx. “To write is to read one’s own self” (Max Frisch)
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