The Devil Is In The Details

An expression of the concept that many things seem straightforward on the surface, but difficulties, problems, and obstacles are later discovered while trying to implement or execute a task or plan. Also stated (somewhat paradoxically) as "God is in the details..."

Indeed. I think this is why BigDesignUpFront fails --AlainPicard

See also GopherHoles. -- AndyMoore

There is nothing paradoxical about this. Taken together, they basically say that until you dig into the details, you really don't know what you've got.

While the original says Also stated (somewhat paradoxically) as "God is in the details...", it would seem that the original quote* is indeed ''God is in the details," and comes from Ludwig MiesVanDerRohe. IIRC, the quote has to do with subtle small design issues that make places and buildings better than other buildings. Seems to reflect some of the same notions that ChristopherAlexander was trying to capture in his work. -- Ron Crocker

The Rohe version is "God dwells in the details." -- Mies van der Rohe (German born, American architect, 1886-1969) (Although this may be a translation from a German original, which would make the exact wording in English more problematic).

Is not this quote suggesting a fractal structure to reality? In the sense that each level or dimension we observe can be considered the detail of some deeper or more fundamental level. So in this sense, God dwells in the details is tantamount to saying God dwells everywhere. Mies's buildings certainly indicate this (eg Seagram Tower, New York City). -- Steve Moore

There's some reason to think Rohe's came first, but in casually looking around for some years I haven't yet even found an attribution for the devil version, so I agree, it's hard to say how old it is, and therefore which came first.

It seems to me that the two sayings are (like God and the Devil) opposites - where 'God is in the detail' seems to suggest the fine details improving the bigger picture (see description above), 'Devil in the details' seems to suggest the fine details have a detrimental affect on the bigger picture.

So although linked, the two sayings really are two sayings so it doesn't really matter which came first.

it is interesting that these two phrases might be considered to be related. (it is difficult to refer to them as quotes or sayings unless we can determine their origin in order to credit source and quote reference, which has proven difficult). with the first phrase, 'God is in the detail', this coined phrase seems to be used to suggest that if you give heed to it, you gain the advantage, (used in building work, or selling a property, God is in the detail), any prospective client will be drawn to the excellence of the finer detail, suggesting the workmanship is superior to any other property where the finer details have been ignored. with the second phrase, 'Devil is in the detail', this coined phrase seems to be used to suggest that if choose to turn a blind eye to its warning, you undermine whatever it is being referred to when using the phrase, (such as a project where ignoring the finer details can actually have a net effect of damaging the overall result). on the basis of my personal interpretation of these two phrases, i actually believe the first is in essence positive and the second is negative, so my conclusion is that they are opposites, and not the same statement at all.

The two phrases could be considered opposites and yet could be considered the same. For example.... A person has written a document and considers "God dwells in the Details". His interpretation is that the details are to his personal satisfaction and more. A second person has written a document and considers "Devil dwells in the details". His interpretaion is that the details are also to his personal satisfaction and more. Thus, it ultimately comes down to who we judge "God" and the "Devil" to be, in the context of how we are using them. If God is in the Detail, does this mean that the detail is Good? It could be that we mean the Detail is ultimately Bad ! Having the "Devil in the Detail" to an individual who believes in Devil in detail could actually be a positive. Having the "God dwells in the Details" to an individual who believes in "Devil in the detail" could actually be a negative. Positive and negative ...... Positive to one person, not so positive to another.... negative to one person, not so negative to another..... My personal interpretation is that the two phrases are in fact the same, and the ultimate meaning of the saying can only be discovered if the person in question who has used the phrase is fully interrogated.....

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