Maslow's great quotation

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Thu May 24 17:38:08 UTC 2007

>> According to the staggeringly informative Yale Book of Quotations, the
>> quotation is the following:
>> It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything
>> as if it were a nail.
>>        Abraham Maslow, The Psychology of Science: A Reconnaissance ch. 2
>> (1966)
>> Fred Shapiro

Small comments. FWIW, I looked for earlier citations, but found none. The
sentence (p.15-16) begins "I imagine it is tempting...." I found no indication
in the book (acknowledgements, notes, etc.) that he is consciously quoting
someone earlier. Elsewhere he uses quotation marks relatively frequently. The
text above this mentions an automatic car washing machine that is quite
good at
that job. "But it could do _only_ that, and everything else that got into its
clutches was treated as if it were an automobile to be washed." The sentence
following our quotation: "In a word, I had either to give up my questions, or
else to invent new ways of answering them." I heard Maslow speak
decades ago at
Brandeis; an estimable man, I think.

Stephen Goranson

The American Dialect Society -

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