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The determination to learn is invincible

Nothing can stop a sense of wonder which refuses to be killed. The Playwright, Eugene O’Neill wrote: “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.”

There is no conspiracy powerful enough to keep in darkness the man who is determined to pursue the truth.

Wisdom will always yield her treasures to the one who presents himself to her as a lover of understanding.

Here’s today’s two cents:

The power to obtain the knowledge you require in order to live the life you wish to live is in your hands. It doesn’t matter who refuses to mentor you, coach you, teach you, or advise you. It doesn’t matter who’s working around the clock to suppress the information you need. If you have a question, the answer is out there. If you have a problem, the solution is available. If you’re stuck in a rut, there’s another way. The only thing that’s needed is the determination to learn. If you lack an unquenchable passion for the answer, the teachers, thinkers, guides, and insights will become invisible to you anyway.

As the philosopher, Karl Popper wrote: “True ignorance is not the absence of knowledge, but the refusal to acquire it.”

This Post Has 9 Comments
  1. Have you read Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning?” He survived the concentration camps longer than many, remaining psychologically intact. He noted that many of the hardiest physically didn’t survive as long as those who had developed a ‘rich internal life.’ When I was 15 I heard this line: “The whole point of learning is to make us bigger, not smaller.” (Born Yesterday) Further…that we share a covenant among human beings that we should enlarge, not diminish one another. I believe that this is what you are underscoring in your approach to life. (I’m thinking of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “IF.”)

    1. Great book choice, Alana 🙂 I like your reading tastes already. Viktor Frankl is a great influence in my life and “Man’s search for meaning” is one of my all time favorites.” I really like that observation too. Self-defeating thoughts can be hard on the body.

      This is gold: “The whole point of learning is to make us bigger, not smaller.”

      By the way, I completely missed “If.” I JUST read it for the first time and I consider it to be one of the most inspiring pieces I’ve read. Great stuff! Thanks so much for sharing. I’ll be printing this out and putting it on my wall.

      Cheers,

      TK

  2. Yes, “IF” is my favorite poem. Discovered it when I was 15. Have reread it many times over the years. As with “The Gettysburg Address” I would write them out and slowly memorize them through rereading. You mention Frederick Douglass. Wow! What an individual. (I picture him talking with Lincoln—helping Lincoln to deliver the Emanicipation Proclamation…”dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…”) These 2 men with their craggy faces etched with life experiences and sparse beginnings. Aah…what they were striving for.

    All these “voices” from history. What we can learn from them.

    Yes, “an unquenchable passion” and curiosity. That “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” (Buddhist Proverb) Love quotes. Consider them to be the “distillation of mankind’s wisdom” through the ages. (Matthew Arnold, I think.) To be a “lover of understanding.”

    Have you read Aristotle’s “Magnamimous Man?”

    Thank you for responding.

    Regards,

    Alana

    1. Hi Alana,

      Well, I’m certainly glad you tuned me into “If”. I’ve been delighting in its message and sharing it with others ever since you mentioned it.

      I like your early practice of writing them down and reading them over and over again. That is a phenomenal way to build your mind and accumulate vast inner resources.

      Yes, Frederick Douglass is one of my greatest teachers. His autobiography is one of my most cherished sources of inspiration. Like so many others, his life is proof of the power that one has to liberate their own mind through literacy, contemplation, and self-determination. I’m glad you appreciate him too. And speaking of Lincoln, I’m intrigued by the film that’s coming up about him. Lewis is a fine actor, so it will be interesting to see how the project turns out.

      I, too, share your love for quotes. You pick really great ones, by the way. Here is one of my favorites:

      “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” -James Baldwin

      I have not read “Magnamimous Man”. What’s your two cents on it?

      Cheers,

      T.K.

  3. Hi T.K.

    Greetings!

    Aristotle’s “Magnanimous Man” is part of his Nicomachean Ethics: A philosphical inquiry into the nature of the good life for a human being. And the good toward which all human actions aim: happiness—a noble goal. He called it “eudaimonia” a blessedness or living well that is not a static state of being but a type of acitivity. Especially intellectual activity. The “peak of virtues.” In his “golden mean” he lists and explains the worthwhile virtues to possess which result in the magnamimous man whose “generosity of spirit” does not depend on the quantity
    of giving but on the “habits of the giver.”

    MAGNANIMITY, n. [L. magnanimitas; magnus, great, and animus, mind.] Greatness of mind; that elevation or dignity of soul, which encounters danger and trouble with tranquility and firmness, which raises the possessor above revenge, and makes him delight in acts of benevolence, which makes him disdain injustice and meanness, and prompts him to forego personal ease, interest and safety at times for the accomplishment of useful and noble objects.[
    (Aristotle)

    I believe this is what you strive for in your life. A truly worthwhile endeavour.

    Aristotle’s “Laws of Logic” laid down the foundation for a philosophy for man, and all future science and medicine. He was taught by Plato but would take quite an opposite point of view in hisown intellectual pursuits. His mental posture: “Dear to me is Plato, but dearer still is truth.”

    He made this intriguing statement: “The quality of a man’s life, his world and the society he lives in will rise and fall on the quality of his definitions. And it will start with the definition of man.” Thus he distinguished man’s rational faculty, his intellectual capacity.

    Love the James Baldwin quote above. Connections. Thinking of a line from “Gladiator:” “What we do here will echo through eternity.”

    Oh yes. Am looking forward to the movie “Lincoln.” Especially with Spielberg at the helm. I
    see there is a cast list for Douglass. Hope he’s given the significance that his role in history held. I read an interesting quote once: “You can ask a lot of most men, but don’t ask them to be
    free or to be happy.” Hmm-m-m… At least, not yet.

    Apologies. I’ve given more than two cents. More like five cents. Inflation? (Or as Pascal wrote
    “I’ve made this letter longer than usual as I lack the time to make it short.”)

    To be continued…

    Regards,

    Alana

    1. This is quite the review, Alana. Thanks for the Nickel 😉

      By the way, no apologies are ever necessary (with me) for the sharing of your ideas. I consider this to be a great privilege. So, thanks for taking the time to share.

      I may have to put the Aristotle book on my wish list as it sounds like a very good cup of tea to sip from. I have I’ve been digging into a lot of Milton Friedman lately and am getting ready to delve into some John Locke. There are just so many wonderful books to read, aren’t there? In my dreams, heaven is a library 🙂

      I may be going to see Lincoln next weekend.

      By the way, I love the concept of MAGNANIMITY!

      Excellent stuff.

      Cheers 🙂

      TK

  4. Indeed, T.K. (paraphrasing Nietzsche, “without books life would be a mistake.”) For a while I wondered if there’d ever be enough time to read all the books I still had ahead of me to read. Until I realized that it would be worse to have the time and not enough books to read.

    Thank you, Guttenberg! Imagine: Most of the world didn’t have books to read until recent
    history!

    Sounds like you’re exploring free market economics. Could I suggest another? F. A. Hayek’s
    “Road to Serfdom.” And Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson.” Both very readable. Not very long reads. Lots of wisdom in them. I’ve also enjoyed Friedman and Locke.

    I watched a Nova episode on astrophysicists who were tracking gamma rays and discovered they emanated from a long dead star. A Supernova that had died and exploded millions of years ago, millions of lightyears away. So far away, we couldn’f feel the percussions of the explosion. Yet one of these dead stars replenishes the universe with necessary chemicals,
    supplements and nutrients, including Earth. Thus, we are all made of some stardust.

    Aristotle can be difrficult to read—at first. Til you get the rhythm of his writing. Depends very much on the translation too. Should have mentioned that his other term for “Magnanimous Man”
    is “The Great-Souled Man.” Interesting that the muslims helped to preserve his works (11th or 12th century, I think) or he might have been lost to antiquity. Especially after the destruction of the library at Alexandria.

    One last thought that’s jumping out of me: The earth is about 6 billion years old. Man has been here in one form or another for over 4 million years. Modern man (homo sapiens) about 150,000 years. Often on the brink of extinction. Farming starts about 10,000 years ago, and
    with it man’s civilization. Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome. The Declaration of Independence
    is only 235 years old: “The inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…” No one can give this to you, no one should take it away. (“These truths are self-evident.”) So new in mankind’s history that the world is still trying to come to grips with it. Like a mystery story. How will it turn out? You can ask a lot of men: Do they want to be free and happy? We’re still striving for this.

    Did you ever see “2001: A Space Odyssey?”

    Thanks for your thoughtful response (s) and input. Deeply appreciated.

    Regards,

    Alana

    1. Indeed, T.K. (paraphrasing Nietzsche, “without books life would be a mistake.”)

      YES!!! The biggest mistake I could possible imagine 😉

      For a while I wondered if there’d ever be enough time to read all the books I still had ahead of me to read. Until I realized that it would be worse to have the time and not enough books to read.

      Agreed! That would be my personal definition of “Hell.” I love knowing that I have more books than I will be able to read in this lifetime. Something about that fact keeps me going. It reminds me of an old Twilight Zone episode about a little girl who kept her grandfather alive by reading him a bedtime story every night and stopping in the middle of a really good part. The curiosity, the desire to know what would happen next, the sense of the possible…it’s what kept him alive for hundreds of years.

      Thank you, Guttenberg! Imagine: Most of the world didn’t have books to read until recent
      history!

      I think about this all the time. I feel so grateful to be able to freely indulge in what was once the exclusive luxury of the rich.

      Sounds like you’re exploring free market economics. Could I suggest another? F. A. Hayek’s
      “Road to Serfdom.” And Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson.” Both very readable. Not very long reads. Lots of wisdom in them. I’ve also enjoyed Friedman and Locke.

      LOVED Road to Serfdom! VERY powerful stuff! Thank you for that! It’s amazing how much of today’s world these ideas apply to. Haven’t checked out Hazlitt’s yet, but soon. I’ll let you know what I think.

      “I watched a Nova episode on astrophysicists who were tracking gamma rays and discovered they emanated from a long dead star. A Supernova that had died and exploded millions of years ago, millions of lightyears away. So far away, we couldn’f feel the percussions of the explosion. Yet one of these dead stars replenishes the universe with necessary chemicals,
      supplements and nutrients, including Earth. Thus, we are all made of some stardust.

      Funny you should say this…in my next life, I want to be an astrophysicist. Carl Sagan was a huge influence for me in College and Contact is my favorite film.

      I never saw “2001: A Space Odyssey?” but I am a huge Sci-fi fan (Philip K. Dick is my man) and I have heard many people put that film at the very top of their list.

      What are your thoughts on it?

  5. Hello again, T.K.

    You must have learned very adeptly how to maximize your time and energy: Writing thoughtfully on so many thoughtful subjects. And responding to people. Admirable.

    I read Sagan’s “Cosmos” years ago and am also a big devotee of astronomy. I’m currently reading “The Demon-Haunted World” (Science as a Candle in the Dark) that my son just gave me. (Sagan’s 2nd last book.) His words before the book begins: ” I wish you a world free of demons and full of light.” I’m halfway through and it’s quite a read. Yes “Contact” is very…
    provocative. Watched it with friends when it first came out and lends itself to healthy debates.

    As for “2001: A Space Odyssey” it inspires us with awe. It almost comes off as a documentary
    now. Contemplative. Philosophical. Patient. Meditative. It’s not about a goal but about a quest.
    If there’s an inducement to watch it—it has the longest flash-forward in the history of cinema.
    Consider prehistoric ape-man cowering in caves against the elements and the wild animals out there and coming upon a carcass with bones. Taking a bone in his hands, he starts to see it as something more…a tool…and tosses it into the air where it begins to spiral, spiral, spiral into
    a space shuttle. Thus taking man into his future. And launching us into the rest of the movie. Wow! (Read the book years ago.)

    Interesting too that outside of a cave, a bone and a bear-skin rug, everything else has been a
    created need by and for man. Requiring much creativity. 🙂 Enjoy your posts on creativity.

    Loved the (original) Twilight Zone series. (Including the episode you describe above.)

    Did you get to see “Lincoln” yet? It won’t be coming here, so we’re making a trip to a bigger
    city an hour away to see it. Hopefully this weekend.

    I have a business here in Sarnia, and my building just got hit this morning by a vehicle that
    meant to Reverse and was in Drive by mistake. (From the dentist office next door—so he ran
    over 3 separate concrete blocks to hit us.) Turns out they’re from Russia, speak some English and are quite excitable especially when they know the police are coming. Assured him it’s not the same as uniforms in (eastern) European countries or Russia. So he was comforted when the police turned out to be polite, older, and non-aggressive. (They’re pretty good here—not like larger cities.) We told him the insurance will sort it out, and they’re just inanimate objects that were hit, and no one was hurt. We felt the “boom” so expected the damage to be worse than
    it was—nothing that can’t be fixed. The beat goes on…

    Enjoy our convos too. So many books, so many movies, so many songs. I’m chuckling over a
    quote I just read this morning: “Enjoy every birthday. It means you’re living longer.”

    Regards,

    Alana

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