essay on thinking for oneself

spent their lives in thinking, resemble the travellers themselves; they alone really know what they are talking about; they are acquainted with the actual state of affairs, and are quite at home in the subject. According to Schopenhauer, it is fine to become acquainted with a subject but only after you have done your own thinking about it because when you have given it some thought yourself, your mind will be more easily triggered to assimilate the knowledge contained within. It often comes unexpectedly and returns again and again; and the variety of temper in which we approach it at different moments puts the matter always in a fresh light. The second is everywhere pleasing and serene, like the intellect when left to itself, even though its path be one of error. When experience boasts that to its discoveries alone is due the advancement of the human race, it is as though the mouth were to claim the whole credit of maintaining the body in health. The people who have spent their lives in reading and acquired their wisdom out of books resemble those who have acquired exact information of a country from the descriptions of many travellers. But still it must not be forgotten that a true value attaches only to what a man has thought in the first instance for his own case. Reading forces thoughts upon the mind which are as foreign and heterogeneous to the bent and mood in which it may be for the moment, as the seal is to the wax on which it stamps its imprint. This is, in fact, corroborated by the way in which most men converse; where their thoughts are found to be chopped up fine, like chaff, so that for them to spin out a discourse of any length is impossible. But, in truth, man is a poor animal like the rest, and his powers are meant only to maintain him in the struggle for existence; so he must need keep his ears always open, to announce of themselves, by night as by day, the approach.

Insomnia Essays, on Thinking for Oneself



essay on thinking for oneself

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This difficulty in regard to the end of a play arises partly because it is everywhere easier to get things into a tangle than to get them out again; partly also because at the beginning we give the author carte blanche to do. Thinkers may be classed according as they think chiefly for their own case or for that of others. 12 If Nature had intended man to think she would not have given him ears, or, at any rate, she would have furnished them with air-tight flaps like the bat, which for this reason is to be envied. But even so, it is a hundred times more valuable if he has acquired it by thinking it out for himself. When we gain access to the histories of China and of India, the endlessness of the subject-matter will reveal to us the defects in the study, and force our historians to see that the object of science is to recognize the many in the one.