Monday, July 09, 2007

Quote- Unquote

"Perhaps the most important advantage of 'useless' knowledge is that it promotes a contemplative habit of mind. There is in the world too much readiness, not only for action without adequate previous reflection, but also for action on occasions on which wisdom would counsel inaction. People show their bias on this matter in various curious ways. Mephistopheles tells the student that theory is grey but the tree of life is green, and everyone quotes this as if it were Goethe's opinion, instead of what he supposes the devil would be likely to say to an undergraduate. Hamlet is held up as a warning against thought without action, but no one holds up Othello as a warning against action without thought.''
-Bertrand Russell, from In Praise of Idleness and other essays.

4 comments:

Holly said...

What would happen if all the contemplative people in the world got sick of the challenges to intellectual lifestyles, got tired of being accused, harassed, taunted, or tormented about the desire to acquire and process knowledge, and everyone just... stopped thinking? And who (if anyone) would notice the difference?

Rufus said...

It would certainly make things a lot easier for our elected officials.

gregvw said...

Who is John Galt?

Rufus said...

It's a good question. Granted, the answer is a bit long-winded...