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Sent: Mon 8/8/2011 1:02 PM Subject: Re: "We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are" Regarding Eric Silverman's inquiry -- after doing some research, I've come to the conclusion that the attribution to the Talmud originates in a 1961 Ana´s Nin novel, _The Seduction of the Minotaur_, which includes the line: >>Lillian was reminded of the talmudic words: "We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are."<< It is not clear where Nin gets the idea from, but she seems to be the first one to make the attribution. Later, in 1967, in volume 25 of _Monumenta serica: journal of oriental studies_, we find the statement: >>As the Talmud says, " We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are."<< Presumably this was drawn unquestioningly from the Nin novel. Then, in 1971, Evelyn J. Hinz refers to the passage in her book _The mirror and the garden: realism and reality in the writings of Ana´s Nin_: >>She is "reminded of the talmudic words: 'We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are' " (Seduction, 124).<< Here, Hinz simply quotes from the novel, and does not herself attribute the saying to the Talmud. Then, in 1973, in the _Ana´s Nin reader_, the editor makes a jump and writes: >> Lillian in Seduction of the Minotaur associates her feeling with the Talmudic words: "We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are" (p. 124).<< Now the talmudic attribution is linked to Nin, but outside of the quotes! In 1978, in _Ana´s Nin_, Bettina Liebowitz Knapp writes: >>It is not by chance that she recalls the Talmudic words: "We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are" (Seduction, p. 16).<< In 1982, in _The Construction of Life and Death_, Dorothy Rowe writes, not in connection with Nin at all: >>Or, as the Talmud says, 'We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are.' Or as Epictatus said, 'It is not things in themselves which trouble us, but our opinions of things.'<< And things seem to go from there... A variation also comes in 1979 in _The History of The Machine_, by Sigvard Strandh: >>One might be to meditate on the talmudic saying, that we do not see things as they are, but as we are.<< In terms of the actual origin of the saying, the earliest English-language source I was able to find was from 1876, from _Nicolai's Marriage_: >>...for, I exclaimed, concluding my attack by a quotation which no antagonist could gainsay, "It is well known, as the great thinker Kant has it : we see things not as they are, but as we are."<< And, when you think about it, it does sound pretty Kantian! I found one other 19th century instance, which seems to be in a number of 1890 periodicals: >>We see things not as they are, but as we are - that is, we see the world not as it is, but as moulded by the individual peculiarities of our minds.<< There are then a number of 20th-century versions, and so Nin could have come across it in multiple places, but it still doesn't seem to get attributed to the Talmud until Nin's novel. Overall, it's amazing how an attribution can become so widespread, without anybody bothering to check whether or not it is authentic. The 'talmudic' attribution even made it into E.O. Wilson's autobiography _Naturalist_ (p.51)! Also interestingly, in _Strike a Chord of Silence_ (2009), C.G. Walters notes that it is >>attributed to many sources including the Talmud, H. M. Tomlinson, Anais Nin, and Immanuel Kant.<< But there is no attempt to verify any of those attributions! Also, in _Stranger to My Self_ (2011), Jeffrey Abugel writes: >>"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." -Anais Nin. Nin's quotation above actually originates from the Hebrew Talmud, written some 1500 years ago.<< So he does attribute it to Nin, but then points out that it 'actually' comes from the 'Hebrew Talmud'. One of the more interesting versions is the following, from a piece by Misia Landau, in _The Rhetoric of the Human Sciences: Language and Argument in Scholarship and Public Affairs_ (1990): >>[I]n a recent essay...[David Pilbeam] concluded with what he believed at the time to be a Talmudic quotation: We do not see things as they are / We see things as we are. Having searched in vain for the exact reference, he now believes it came not from the Talmud (as a student told him) but instead from a Chinese fortune cookie.<< Finally, the talmudic attribution also appears in _The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Talmud_ (p.176), by Rabbi Aaron Parry, where he formulates it as: >>We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.<< For some strange reason, he does not cite a specific tractate! Daniel H. Weiss Cambridge University