Every Blockhead Is Thoroughly Persuaded That He Is In the Right

Baltasar Gracián y Morales? Mountstuart Grant Duff? Joseph Jacobs? Christopher Maurer? Martin Fischer? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Thoughtful people periodically revise their opinions as their knowledge grows. Obstinate and foolish people develop an opinion and then refuse to change it even when evidence accumulates that their original position is deeply flawed. Clinging to erroneous beliefs is wrong-headed.

The Spanish Jesuit writer and philosopher Baltasar Gracián (Baltasar Gracián y Morales) said something like this in the 17th century. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: Baltasar Gracián wrote “Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia” (“The Art of Worldly Wisdom”) in 1647. The work primarily consisted of three hundred maxims together with commentary. The following passage in Spanish discussed the wisdom of cultivating intellectual flexibility. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

No aprender fuertemente. Todo necio es persuadido, y todo persuadido necio, y quanto mas erroneo su dictamen, es mayor su tenacidad: aun en caso de evidencia es ingenuidad el ceder, que no se ignora la razon que tuvo, y se conoce la galanteria que tiene.

In 1877 the British author Mountstuart Grant Duff published a piece in “The Fortnightly Review” of London which included material from Gracián’s book. The Spanish text above corresponded to maxim 183, and Duff presented the following partial translation: 2

Do not hold your opinions all too firmly.—Every blockhead is thoroughly persuaded that he is in the right, and every one who is all too firmly persuaded is a blockhead, and the more erroneous is his judgment the greater is the tenacity with which he holds it.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Every Blockhead Is Thoroughly Persuaded That He Is In the Right

Notes:

  1. 1659, Title: Oraculo manual, y arte de prudencia (The Art of Worldly Wisdom), Author: Baltasar Gracián y Morales, Editor: Vincencio Juan de Lastanosa, Quote Page 127, Publisher: En casa de Iuan Blaeu,, A Amsterdam. (Google Books Full View) link
  2. 1877 March 1, The Fortnightly Review, Volume 21, Balthasar Gracian by M. E. Grant Duff (Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff), Maxim 183, Start Page 328, Quote Page 338, Chapman and Hall, London. (Google Books Full View) link