Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Intellectual Life, #4

In an age where "critical thinking" is valorized with little or no distinction, the following words are a breath of fresh air:

An essential condition for profiting by our reading, whether of ordinary books or those of  writers of genius, is to tend always to reconcile our authors instead of setting one against another. The critical spirit has its place; we may have to disentangle opinions and classify men; the method of contrast is then admissible and needs only not to be forced. But when the aim is formation of the mind, personal profit, or even a teacher's exposition, it is quite a different matter. In these cases it is not the thoughts, but the truths, that interest us; not men's disputes, but their work and what is lasting in it. It is futile to linger endlessly over differences; the fruitful research is to look for points of contact.

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