Posted by Paul Guthrie on March 15, 2000

In Reply to: Forest posted by Tomar on March 14, 2000

: Does anyone know what is ment by the popular phrase, "You can't see the forest for the trees."?

Personally I don't think that this saying has a meaning, or at least not one of any value.

After all what is a forest without trees? Can a forest exist without trees?

Although purporting to say something like 'you are letting the details obscure the overall picture', I suspect that it is more often used in a reverse sense to in fact obscure, diminish, or simply not see someone else's point of view.

Next time someone says to you 'You can't see the forest for the trees', notice whether you feel enlightened by them having said that, or not. Are they using the the phrase to validate your point of view, or the reverse? Perhaps they themselves do not want to look too closely at 'trees' and other entities within the 'forest' because it may alter their amorphous understanding of it, an understanding that may be completely wrong!