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Thomas McNamee
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Goodreads Quote of the Day: The Roots of Cosmopolitanism, or, nonexistent fact-checking triumphs again.

Not for the first time in the recent couple of months alone, GR is crediting an author with having coined their "quote of the day" ... for something properly attributed to someone else entirely, or otherwise misquoted.


This time the quote in question is "I am a citizen of the world" – which dates back to Greek philosophers Socrates (470/469-399 BC) (thanks, Eleni!) and Diogenes of Sinope (ca. 412-323 BC); the latter famously being reported to have given this as his response to the question where he came from.


To this true origin of the quote, the modern world also owes the term "cosmopolitan" (from the Greek for "world citizen", "kosmopolitês").


Guess who today made Goodreads's "quote of the day" crowd with that quote? Sylvia Beach, of Shakespeare and Company.


Now, I love Shakespeare and Company, and it is true that Ms. Beach is quoted with the above sentiment in Noel Fitch's Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation (1983).  However, she was manifestly NOT the first person to have expressed this idea.  Even if you discount the attribution to Socrates and Diogenes, there are several other contenders who lived centuries, if not millennia before Ms. Beach; inter alia, Tamil poet Kaniyan Poongundran (some 2000 years ago), and Thomas Paine (The Rights of Man, 1792: "My country is the world.")  In other words, cosmopolitanism reaches far back to the roots of both Western and Eastern civilization(s) and societies.  Ms. Beach may have subscribed to it – but she most definitely didn't invent it.  This thought, however, unfortunately seems to be lost on whoever selected today's "quote of the day" on Goodreads ...


Source: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/650452-i-am-a-citizen-of-the-world