Source of Quotation, I

exact citation of source wanted:

"We learn not from experience, but from experiment."

Request for Question Clarification byblader-ga

Greetings from Google!

Is the given quote exact, or a paraphrase?

Best Regards,


Clarification of Question bytrulyga-ga

The quotation is exact, or very near exact; the whole idea is a

contrast of mere experience — what happens to one by chance — with

experiment, which is deliberately sought experience, designed

explicitly for the purpose of learning. Just the opposite of what

Camus is quoted as saying.

Request for Question Clarification byblader-ga

Hi trulyga-ga!

Thanks for the clarification. Now I'm beginning to think though, that

there really is no answer to the question. Either it is a rough

paraphrase, or that is just a generic quote with no source. The

closest I could find is "Experience is a dear teacher, but fools will

learn at no other."

– Benjamin Franklin. I'm keeping my eyes peeled though! =)

Best Regards,


Request for Question Clarification bymissy-ga

Hello, truly!

It's quite difficult to give an exact source for a phrase that is

"exact, or very near exact". I've spent some time poking around for

this (I'm intrigued) and have found nothing close by way of exact

quote, but rather, that this is a *philosophy*, a school of thought.

There are a number of well known scholars who held this as a belief,

but no such quote has turned up anywhere.


Request for Question Clarification bymissy-ga


I think I've got it. In fact, I'm 99% sure.

But the key words are a little different. Are you sure it's

"experiment" and not "reason"?


Clarification of Question bytrulyga-ga

Dear Missy,

Yes, the quotation whose author I'm seeking definitely contrasts

"experience" and "experiment"; the wording I gave when I posted the

question is very close to exact, if not perfectly exact.


Request for Question Clarification bymissy-ga

Argh, well, that shoots what I thought it was.

The phrase rung a hard bell in my head – Immanuel Kant says something

quite similar in "Kritik der reiner Vernunft". He uses the word

"reason", however. The German idiom is such that "reason" and

"experiment" are often interchangeable, depending on context, but your

clarification seems to rule this out.

Do you have, by chance, a frame of reference for this quote? A rough

time frame? A little context? I strongly suspect the author is one

of the great Rationalists, but with only the quote to go on, we could

dig for years and still not find it.

Clarification of Question bytrulyga-ga

Dear Missy,

Sorry to disappoint you, but the point of the quotation, again, is

the contrast between "experience" and "experiment." And how I wish I

could give you some more information about the dictum! I saw it, many

years ago, in a printed collection of such sayings; no information

about its source was given, nor do I remember the name of the book in

which it was given. I think the author is probably English or

American, since I believe that it's only in English that the the words

for experience and experiment have such a verbal parallel. And the

diction seems to me to indicate a date no earlier than late nineteenth

century, more probably twentieth. But even if I'm right in those

guesses, they hardly pinpoint any individual — and that's all I have,

even in the way of guesses. I've asked many people in the years since

I saw it for any information about it, and no one has been able to

help; I've posted my question on the mailing list for reference

librarians, Stumpers-L, to no avail.

It may very well be that the dictum is just the bright idea of some

obscure person, and that it's never appeared in print anywhere but the

obscure book in which I found it, perhaps twenty-five years ago. I

think it would be close to miraculous if its author could be

identified, and I wish I could offer more than $50 to anyone who can

do it; I offered that amount because that's the upper limit set by

Google Answers.

If you give up, I won't blame you; it's a heartbreaker.


Request for Question Clarification bymissy-ga


It's a terrific stumper question, and one that's going to drive me

*crazy* long after your posting expires. Shame on you for making a

poor innocent researcher so dreadfully curious! *grin*

Do come back and let us know if you ever stumble on the source on your

own, OK? For my part, I'll be keeping my eyes open for the source, if

only to soothe my own curiosity.

Much luck,


Request for Question Clarification bymorris-ga

Would you settle for "Experience is knowledge derived from experiment."


Clarification of Question bytrulyga-ga

Dear Morris,

Your find is the closest so far — it at least contains the key

words "experience" and "experiment" — but it's not the quotation I'm

seeking; instead of emphasizing the difference, almost the conflict,

between the two, it makes experience the product of experiment. As

the carnival barker says, close but no cigar. If you don't mind

revealing a trade secret — who said the words that you've suggested?


Request for Question Clarification bymorris-ga

The quote was from Ellen G. White,

I spent a couple hours doing Boolean searches with "NEAR" as in

experience NEAR experiment NEAR etc…

on AltaVista, since I figured some sharp people already had a week to

try it on Google. Maybe I'll go down to the Internet Cafe this

afternoon and give it another shot.

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