Quotation and endorsement

I like sharing quotes on Twitter. Occasionally a quote will provoke an angry reaction, not to the content of the quote but to the source. Sometimes people will even acknowledge that they agree with the quote, but are dismayed that I would quote such a despicable person.

This morning I was reading Norman Geisler’s book on Thomas Aquinas and these lines reminded me of the brouhaha over quotes and sources.

No, I do not agree with everything he [Aquinas] ever wrote. On the other hand, neither do I agree with everything I ever wrote.

I’d say along with Geisler that if I could only quote people I completely agreed with, I could not even quote myself.

Geisler goes on to say

But seven hundred years from now no one will even recognize my name, while Aquinas’ works will still be used with great profit.

I feel the same way about many of the people I quote. I remember catching flak for quoting Martin Luther. I’ve already forgotten the critic’s name, and he’s probably forgotten mine, but people will still be reading Luther in another five hundred years.

3 thoughts on “Quotation and endorsement

  1. I think people tend to have one of two very different notions of what a quotation is for. Some people use quotations because someone else has said something thought-provoking in a particularly striking or succinct way. Others seem to use quotations as an appeal to authority for the correctness of the sentiment being expressed.

    I suspect that the people who object to source of a quotation are the latter kind, and prone themselves to give too much weight to appeals to authority.

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