The metaphor of dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants (Latin: nanos gigantum humeris insidentes) expresses the meaning of "discovering truth by building on previous discoveries". 

This concept has been traced to the 12th century, attributed to Bernard of Chartres. Its most familiar expression in English is by Isaac Newton in 1676: "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

 

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