Help me to understand this quote from Voltaire:
"The infinitely little have a pride infinitely great."
I already tried to understand it, but I can't find a consensual thought of it.
With the best regards from Portugal,
I am not a Voltaire expert; I can't even find the source of thequotation (putting it back into context is likely to help anyinterpretation), although it is very similar to a line at the end of'Micromegas'. However, for what it's worth, I'll happily share whatI've always taken it to mean. 'Little' is a metaphor for rank on a scale of things one mightreasonably have pride in. As Voltaire is a satirist, there are infact very few things near the top of that scale, but never mind. (In'Micromegas' little means literally little, but ALSO pathetic,insignificant, narrow.) So, the quotation implies that there is aninverse proportionality between greatness and pride. Those who aregenuinely great either refuse pride or have little need of it; thosewho are insignificant have great -- though irrational and undeserved-- pride. One reason for this is that 'littleness' entails anarrowness of point of view or closed-mindedness. Thus, the littleare incapable of understanding that by comparison with...