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Repeating Repetition

May 14th, 2008 | 1 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

Alfred North Whitehead once said, "Everything of importance has been said before by someone who did not discover it.”
How do I know?

I know Whitehead said this because J. Samuel Preus quotes him in an article about Spinoza. That’s not quite right, though: Preus doesn’t quote Whitehead, but quotes a quotation from Whitehead in a book by Robert Merton. And now here I am quoting a quotation of a quotation of a quotation (I think that covers it, but I’m dizzy).

Kinda confirms Whitehead’s point, which he probably learned from someone else anyway.

Yup. And I now know it because Leithart quoted a quotation of a quotation of a quotation. I won't even say what that makes this post.

(Come on now, someone keep the party going!!!)

At some point, we're going to get tired of commentary and start reading primary sources again. It's inevitable.

Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology in Baylor University's Honors College. He has a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics from Oxford University, and is a Perpetual Member of Biola University's Torrey Honors College. In 2005, he founded Mere Orthodoxy.