The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table

The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table

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The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table by Oliver Wendell Holmes

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1858

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The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table

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Book Excerpt

n of talents PLUS "the mathematics." But the calculating power alone should seem to be the least human of qualities, and to have the smallest amount of reason in it; since a machine can be made to do the work of three or four calculators, and better than any one of them. Sometimes I have been troubled that I had not a deeper intuitive apprehension of the relations of numbers. But the triumph of the ciphering hand-organ has consoled me. I always fancy I can hear the wheels clicking in a calculator's brain. The power of dealing with numbers is a kind of "detached lever" arrangement, which may be put into a mighty poor watch--I suppose it is about as common as the power of moving the ears voluntarily, which is a moderately rare endowment.

- Little localized powers, and little narrow streaks of specialized knowledge, are things men are very apt to be conceited about. Nature is very wise; but for this encouraging principle how many small talents and little accomplishments would be neglected! Talk about co

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