18.396 human memory (with traces in Google's)

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 2 Dec 2004 07:46:50 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 18, No. 396.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Thu, 02 Dec 2004 07:24:01 +0000
         From: "Dr. Donald J. Weinshank" <weinshan_at_cse.msu.edu>
         Subject: "If God is dead, all things are permissible."


The quotation, "If God is dead, all things are permissible," is cited in or
another permutations so frequently in a GOOGLE search that is seems firmly
established. It is always attributed a character in one of Dostoevsky's

The only problem is that no Dostoevsky character ever makes this statement.

Several years ago, a Russian-area member of the Modern Language Association
posted a thorough and carefully documented report on his rereading of
BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, CRIME AND PUNISHMENT and, as I recall, other Dostoevsky
novels. Unfortunately, in spite of several carefully crafted GOOGLE
searches, I cannot now find his posting and hope that one of you can reply
with the URL or the source.

Some day, I shall post on my Web site a list of "Great Statements Never
Uttered." These will include

Pogo: "We have met the enemy and they are us."
          I have a letter from Walt Kelly explaining that Pogo never said
this. Some years after his death, his estate apparently permitted the use of
this quote with a picture of Pogo in observance of Earth Day.

Ruskin: ""There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a
little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price
alone are that person's lawful prey."
          But see http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/ruskin/quotation.html

   and several others. It would be a fascinating research project to try to
understand why people misremember or unconsciously create attributions of
these sorts. I could speculate that they somehow "feel right" but cannot
seem to get beyond that point.

Dr. Don Weinshank Professor Emeritus Comp. Sci. & Eng.
1520 Sherwood Ave., East Lansing MI 48823-1885
Ph. 517.337.1545 FAX 517.337.2539
Received on Thu Dec 02 2004 - 03:01:34 EST

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