I’ve used this as a portion of my email signature for several years now. The most common attribution for this Latin aphorism is to St. Augustine and it is roughly translated as ”It is solved in the walking”. My personal take on it is that the phrase describes most of the thorny problems that engineers (especially those who face non-engineering challenges) face. One solves them based on the experiences gained along the way. The answer is rarely self evident from the onset. It seemed appropriate.

A friend of mine (Dr. Jerry Kane) had these comments on the saying:

I suspect that you also want the translation, and so I’ll give it to you - “it is solved in the walking.” What I mean by this is that none of the answers that really matter in life can be given or gotten by means of a sound byte, a catch phrase, or a nifty jingle. Nor can they be obtained through a book, a movie, or a song. Appealing to wise men on mountaintops won’t prove very helpful, either.

No, when I say “it is solved in the walking,” I mean that all of the answers that really matter in life are those which you have to learn through experience. Furthermore, this “experience” is not that which will happen in a flash of realization or a moment of enlightenment (although we will certainly have those times along our journey). This experience is that which matures and ages over time - tested the individual experiences with the greater body of experience. Only the answers gained along this path will hold true value in the context of your life, and chasing the other promises for meaning can have disastrous consequences.

««<« HEAD The phrase is also in the opening logical fallacy of Lewis Carroll’s “(What the Tortoise Said to Achilles)”:

Achilles had overtaken the Tortoise, and had seated himself comfortably on its back. “So you’ve got to the end of our race-course?” said the Tortoise. “Even though it does consist of an infinite series of distances? I thought some wiseacre or other had proved that the thing couldn’t be done?” “It can be done,” said Achilles. “It has been done! Solvitur ambulando. You see the distances were constantly diminishing; and so –”