Buckminster Fuller? Helen Hayes? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: The full potential of a person or an idea is not visible in a nascent state. An ingenious analogy expresses this viewpoint:
There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.
This remark has been attributed to the inventor and futurist R. Buckminster Fuller, but I have been unable to find a citation, and I suspect that the phrasing is inaccurate. Would you please help me?
Quote Investigator: In November 1969 R. Buckminster Fuller delivered the Third Annual Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture in New Delhi, India. In 1970 he published an article based on his speech titled “Planetary Planning” in the journal “The American Scholar”. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1
Our Universe as defined is finite but nonsimultaneously conceptual. The single-frame picture of a caterpillar does not foretell its transformation into a butterfly. Nor does one picture of a butterfly tell the viewer that the butterfly can fly. Universe as defined is a scenario.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1970-71 Winter, The American Scholar, Volume 40, Number 1, Planetary Planning by R. Buckminster Fuller, Start Page 29, Quote Page 30, (“Planetary Planning” was presented by Fuller as the Third Annual Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture in New Delhi on November 13, 1969), Published by The Phi Beta Kappa Society. (JSTOR) link ↩