The Angel’s In The Details

Recently a friend used a figure of speech while describing a situation involving an unexpected detail that later turned out to be crucial to the success of their project, but after going unnoticed, caused further disruption and complications to occur. It made me contemplate the meaning and foundation of this now commonly known idiom.

Many people may be familiar with the phrase ‘the Devil’s in the details’, which some claim was originally used by the atheist German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (in German: “Der Teufel steckt im Detail”(1)) and later adopted by many other cultures around the world, although paradoxically the exact ‘details’ of its origin seem difficult to determine. It generally “refers to problems or difficulties that result from the unforeseen nature of unexamined details. It refers to a catch hidden in the details rather than the truth in its abstract sense.”(2) This was indeed the saying used by my friend during our discussion, but after having a feeling that something did not seem right about that phrase (probably stemming from the fact that I personally have never believed in the existence of the ‘Devil’), I decided to do a little digging into the true foundation of this phrase. Continue reading “The Angel’s In The Details”