“He judges us debased; he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure… Let us see whether his words be true.” (Wis 2:16-17)

Commander of the Sea

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Nov 042007

Cnut set his throne by the sea shore and commanded the tide to halt and not wet his feet and robes. Yet “continuing to rise as usual [the tide] dashed over his feet and legs without respect to his royal person. Then the king leapt backwards, saying: ‘Let all men know how empty and worthless [more …]

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Reason’s Last Step

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Oct 052007

“Reason’s last step is the recognition that there are an infinite number of things which stand beyond it. It is merely feeble if it does not go so far as to realize that.” Blaise Pascal  

Empirical Success

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Oct 052007

“Empirical success is not a sufficient reason to assume that a theory is true – the same data permit different theories that explain them.” Unknown

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The Scholar

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Oct 052007

“Ever the winds blow; ever the grass grows. Every day, men and women, conversing, beholding and beholden. The scholar is he of all men whom this spectacle most engages.” Emerson

The Best Books

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Oct 052007

“It is remarkable, the character of the pleasure we derive from the best books. They impress us with the conviction, that one nature wrote and the same reads… There is some awe mixed with the joy of our surprise, when this poet, who lived in some past world, two or three hundred years ago, says that which lies close to my own soul, that which I also had wellnigh thought and said.”


Wisdom, Honor, and Gain

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Oct 052007

In Book 9 of The Republic, Plato has Socrates divide humanity into three classes: “lovers of wisdom, lovers of honor, and lovers of gain.”    

Our American Colleges

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Oct 052007

“History and exact science he must learn by laborious reading. Colleges, in like manner, have their indispensable office, — to teach elements. But they can only highly serve us, when they aim not to drill, but to create; when they gather from far every ray of various genius to their hospitable halls, and, by the concentrated fires, set the hearts of their youth on flame. Thought and knowledge are natures in which apparatus and pretension avail nothing. Gowns, and pecuniary foundations, though of towns of gold, can never countervail the least sentence or syllable of wit. Forget this, and our American colleges will recede in their public importance, whilst they grow richer every year.”


Learning Without Thought

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Oct 052007

“Learning without thought is labor lost. Thought without learning is perilous.” Confucius  

It is Not Enough to Teach a Man a Specialty

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Oct 062005

“It is not enough to teach man a specialty. Through it he may become a kind of useful machine but not a harmoniously developed personality. It is essential that the student acquire a vivid sense of the beautiful and of the morally good. Otherwise he – with his specialized knowledge – more closely resembles a well trained dog than a harmoniously developed person.” – Einstein

But their hearts will ache

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Oct 062005

“Projects undreamed-of by past generations will absorb our immediate descendants… Comforts, activities, amenities, pleasures will crowd upon them, but their hearts will ache, and their lives will be barren, if they have not a vision above material things.” Winston Churchill, “Thoughts and Adventures”

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The Act of Learning

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Oct 052005

“It is not knowledge, but the act of learning, not possession but the act of getting there, which grants the greatest enjoyment.” – Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss (Letter to Bolyai, 1808)

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Study of the Classics

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Oct 052005

“Men sometimes speak as if the study of the classics would at length make way for more modern and practical studies; but the adventurous student will always study classics, in whatever language they may be written and however ancient they may be. For what are the classics but the noblest recorded thoughts of man” – Thoreau

What You Read

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Oct 052005

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” – Oscar Wilde

A Great Civilization

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Oct 052005

“Yes, I can see all the works of a great civilization; but why cannot I meet any civilized persons? I only encounter specialists, artists who know nothing of science, scientists who know nothing of art, philosophers who have no interest in God, priests who are unconcerned with politics, politicians who only know other politicians.” – W.H. Auden (describing what an ancient Athenian might say of our civilization)

The Return of Prometheus

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Oct 042005

“Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.” -Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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