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- A problem never exists in isolation; it is surrounded by other problems in space and time. The more of the context of a problem that a scientist can comprehend, the greater are his chances of finding a truly adequate solution.
- Russell L. Ackoff (1956] The development of operations research as a science
- It is only insofar as some sort of order arises as a result of individual action but without being designed by any individual that a problem is raised which demands a theoretical explanation.
- Friedrich Hayek (1979) The Counter-Revolution of Science : Studies on the Abuse of Reason
- To think out a problem is not unlike drawing a caricature. You have to exaggerate the salient point and leave out that which is not typical. "To illustrate a principle," says Bagehot, "you must exaggerate much and you must omit much." As to the quantity of absolute truth in a thought: it seems to me the more comprehensive and unobjectionable a thought becomes, the more clumsy and unexciting it gets. I like half-truths of a certain kind — they are interesting and they stimulate.
- Eric Hoffer Entry (1950)
- Basic human problems can have no final solutions.
- Eric Hoffer (1967) The Temper of Our Time
- What makes a problem a problem is not that a large amount of search is required for its solution, but that a large amount would be required if a requisite level of intelligence were not applied.
- Here's how to look at problems: Problems are guidelines, not stop signs!
- Robert H. Schuller, Move Ahead with Possibility Thinking (1967), p. 90 in the 1986 reprint
- Widely attributed in paraphrase: "Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines."