Schopenhauer on reading yourself stupid

Schopenhauer had quite a lot to say about reading. He liked good books, but was highly skeptical of most books, and especially of contemporary ones. Here he is – in dialectical* opposition to most of my other posts about reading – on the effects of reading too much: When we read, someone else thinks for us; we repeat merely his…

C.S. Lewis on reading old books

Here’s more from C.S. Lewis on reading old books – this time highlighting their virtues as lenses for helping us to spot and evaluate the biases of our age: It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much…

C.S. Lewis on reading the originals

I love this thought from Lewis, and I’ve found it to be both true and hugely rewarding whenever I’ve acted upon it. There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books. Thus I have found as a tutor…

Plato on ageing well

I love this little riff from the start of Plato’s fascinating-but-politically-iffy* Republic: We went with Polemarchus to his house; and there we found his brothers … There too was Cephalus the father of Polemarchus, whom I had not seen for a long time, and I thought him very much aged. He was seated on a cushioned chair, and had a…

Who says?

Does it matter who says it? Science says: “It doesn’t matter who said it. What matters is the evidence and the reasoning.” Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts Richard Feynman Thomas Hobbes said much the same: Words are wise men’s counters, they do but reckon by them; but they are the money of fools, that value them…

Carl Sagan on starting from scratch

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe. Carl Sagan Starting from scratch is overrated (and impossible). Some better questions are: – Has someone else already made what I’m trying to make? Or something similar? Or part of it? (Readymade is usually easier than DIY). – What new things can I make…