Monday, 29 October 2007

On Thinking for Oneself

Schopenhauer was known for his succinct aphorisms. As I go about trying to write a viable thesis proposal, the following quote serves me as a humble reminder of what true learning is about. I think I may have committed the sin against the 'Holy Ghost' more than once ...

"Just as the largest library, badly arranged, is not so useful as a very moderate one that is well arranged, so the greatest amount of knowledge, if not elaborated by our own thoughts, is worth much less than a far smaller volume that has been abundantly and repeatedly thought over. For only by universally combining what we know, by comparing every truth with every other, do we fully assimilate our own knowledge and get it into our power. We can think over only what we know, and so we should learn something; but we know only what we have thought out.
... [knowledge] is ...a hundred times more valuable if we have arrived at it through our own original thinking [rather than having read it in a book]. Only then does it enter into the whole system of our ideas as an integral part and living member. Only then is it completely and firmly connected therewith, is understood in all its grounds and consequents, bears the colour, tone, and stamp of our whole mode of thought, has come at the very time when the need for it was keen, is therefore firmly established and cannot pass away. Accordingly, Goethe's verse here finds its most perfect application and even explanation:

"What from your fathers' heritage is lent,
Earn it anew, really to posses it!" "
Isn't that beautiful and challenging at the same time?

As for comments, I'm sorry for the late reply. I've replied to "In Accordance with the Scriptures", the rest will have to wait till tomorrow I'm afraid.

I should also add that the "In Accordance" series is not finished, there's one more coming on the implications for 'quests for the historical Jesus'.


MJ said...

interesting blog, just found it by "accident"
only wanted to say that this post about thinking is very, very true
thanks and bye

Phil Sumpter said...

Thanks MJ,

unfortunately I can't read your blog as it seems to be in Spanish. Do come again.