But first Uncle Bill's lessons for the day:
1) Be skeptical of all unsourced quotations.
2) Do not broadcast unsourced quotations unless you are sure they are correct.
3) Verify the sources of sourced quotations.
4) Correct, if you can, incorrect 'quotations.'
5) Do not willfully mis-attribute! Or, like Achmed the Dead Terrorist, I KEEL you!
6) Don't use 'quote' as a noun; it is a verb.
Mr. Lull send us to Aristotle and accuracy where the following comment clarifies matters:
You are correct that this quotation, in the form that seems to be all over the Internet now, is not a quotation from Aristotle: it's not even a loose translation of Nicomachean Ethics 1094b23-25. The English translation from which it has descended is as follows (I'm not sure whose this is):
"It is the mark of an educated mind to rest satisfied with the degree of precision which the nature of the subject admits and not to seek exactness where only an approximation is possible."
In fact, this isn't a great translation, but at least it gets the sense right. Notice that the first eight words match the beginning of the spurious quote exactly (actually, the corresponding Greek is just two words, (pepaideumenou esti), one of which (esti) means "it is" and the other one of which (pepaideumenou) is translated "the mark of an educated mind". Since it's distinctive of this translation to supply "mind" instead of "man" or "person", I'm sure that's the source. In bouncing about the Internet, Aristotle's own quote has been transmogrified into something quite different that evidently resonates with many people. Just for the record, I am an academic in a philosophy department, I specialize in Aristotle, and I've published translations of some of Aristotle's works. --Robin Smith