Man usually avoids attributing cleverness to somebody else unless it's an enemy.

--- Albert Einstein

Hi

I searched for explanation of this quote but none that I could find. I asked around my friends and they have 5 different translations which is far too confusing now.

A friend of mine told me that it means:

man wants everyone to think he's the cleverest person around, except for his enemy who is just as clever

Like ... person wants everyone to think he's clever. However, he can't make his enemy to also think like that because his enemy should be, at least, as cleaver as he is or else his enemy couldn't be his enemy from the first place.

What do you think? Please help <3
1 2
Oops ... my blunder. Please accept my apology.

I should have posted it under General English Vocabulary & Idiom Questions.

What should I do now?
unsigned_nerdI should have posted it under General English Vocabulary & Idiom Questions.
What should I do now?

Nothing. I moved it for you. Emotion: smile

Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
I found some more background in case you need it:

http://www.last.fm/group/Albert+Einstein/forum/66177/_/388806

Albert Einstein, May 23 1953
I salute the man who is going through life always helpful, knowing no fear, and to whom aggressiveness and resentment are alien. Such is the stuff of which the great moral leaders are made who proffer consolation to mankind in their self-created miseries. The attempt to combine wisdom and power has only rarely been successful and then only for a short while. Man usually avoids attributing cleverness to somebody else-unless it is an enemy. Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions. The majority of the stupid is invincible and guaranteed for all time. The terror of their tyranny, however, is alleviated by their lack of consistency. In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep. The contrasts and contradictions that can permanently live peacefully side by side in a skull make all the systems of political optimists and pessimists illusory. Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge in the field of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods. Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift.
Many thanks : D
Tanit
unsigned_nerdI should have posted it under General English Vocabulary & Idiom Questions.What should I do now?
Nothing. I moved it for you.
Many thanks, Tanit : )
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
unsigned_nerdMan usually avoids attributing cleverness to somebody else unless it's an enemy.

--- Albert Einstein
Here is my interpretation.
People are not gracious enough to compliment others on being smart and wise.

The exception is what they will say about an enemy who has beaten them. The reasons for this defeat that they will give are:

1) The enemy is very clever, devious, unprincipled and sneaky. He bears watching.

2) The enemy was very lucky, this time.
Thanks, AlpheccaStars for both interpretation and sample reasons : )
What it means is saying someone is clever is like giving them praise. Man usually does not like to praise willingly another person that he or she is clever because that may make the person giving the praise look less superior and less attractive. The irony is that he will say or think that his enemy is very clever because he does not want to be defeated by them and therefore he will not underestimate his opponent. Also he will say that his enemy is clever to make them look less innocent in the eyes of others, meaning his enemy is calculating with bad intentions. ie Man will not willing praise a maybe deserving person of cleverness but willing give the praise to an underserving person such as an enemy just to make them look bad. If you dont like my explaination then your too clever for your own good.
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