Carol Dweck? Paul Klee? Thomas Oliver? Martin Heidegger? Victor Branford? Sarah Frances Brown? Charles Hartshorne? Alfred North Whitehead?
Question for Quote Investigator: When you are living a full life you are always changing and growing. You are not inert or stagnant. Here are two versions of a pertinent adage:
(1) Becoming is better than being.
(2) Becoming is more important than being.
This saying has been attributed to prominent U.S. psychologist Carol Dweck, renowned German artist Paul Klee, influential Scottish physician Thomas Oliver, and others. Would you please explore this topic?
Reply from Quote Investigator: This notion has roots in ancient spiritual and philosophical traditions. But this article is focused on tracing closely matching statements.
The earliest instance located by QI appeared in a December 1913 address delivered by Professor of Medicine Sir Thomas Oliver before the Insurance Institute of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in England. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:1914, The Chartered Insurance Institute Journal of 1914, Medico-Social Problems from an Insurance Point of View by Sir Thomas Oliver M.D. (Professor of the Principles and Practice of Medicine, … Continue reading
The successful man admits that there is more pleasure in work than in having secured the rewards of it—that becoming is better than being—since possibility marks the one and finality seals the other.
QI tentatively credits Oliver with this expression although he may have been repeating a saying that he had heard previously.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
|↑1||1914, The Chartered Insurance Institute Journal of 1914, Medico-Social Problems from an Insurance Point of View by Sir Thomas Oliver M.D. (Professor of the Principles and Practice of Medicine, University of Durham College of Medicine, Newcastle upon Tyne), Remark: A paper read before the Insurance Institute of Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 8th December 1913, Start Page 1, Quote Page 1, Published by Charles & Edwin Layton, London. (Google Books Full View) link|