Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

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Isaac Newton

The idea of standing on the shoulders of giants didn’t originate with Newton and his famously humble quote.

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John of Salisbury

The original attribution of this is from Bernard of Chartres in the early 12th Century as recorded by John of Salisbury:

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Bernard of Chartres

“Bernard of Chartres used to say that we the Moderns are like dwarves perched on the shoulders of giants the Ancients, and thus we are able to see more and farther than the latter. And this is not at all because of the acuteness of our sight or the stature of our body, but because we are carried aloft and elevated by the magnitude of the giants.”

Here is lawyer and activist Vernon Jordan on the give and take nature of life:

“You are where you are today because you stand on somebody’s shoulders. And wherever you are heading, you cannot get there by yourself. If you stand on the shoulders of others, you have a reciprocal responsibility to live your life so that others may stand on your shoulders. It’s the quid pro quo of life. We exist temporarily through what we take, but we live forever through what we give.”

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