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The recognition that no knowledge can be complete, no metaphor entire, is itself humanizing. It counteracts fanaticism. It grants even to adversaries the possibility of partial truth, and to oneself the possibility of error.
How did Biot arrive at the partial differential equation? [the heat conduction equation] . . . Perhaps Laplace gave Biot the equation and left him to sink or swim for a few years in trying to derive it. That would have been merely an instance of the way great mathematicians since the very beginnings of mathematical research have effortlessly maintained their superiority over ordinary mortals.
It is true that men are no fit judges of themselves, because commonly they are partial to their own cause; yet it is as true that he who will dispose himself to judge indifferently of himself can do it better than any body else, because a man can see farther into his own mind and heart than any one else can.
No human being is constituted to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth and even the best of men must be content with fragment, with partial glimpses, never the full fruition.
Alan Marshall Beck
Without the smile from partial beauty won,
Oh what were man?—a world without a sun.
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