Friday, October 14, 2016

`The Proper Business of Youth'

“To learn is the proper business of youth; and whether we increase our knowledge by books or by conversation, we are equally indebted to foreign assistance.

“The greater part of students are not born with abilities to construct systems, or advance knowledge; nor can have any hope beyond that of becoming intelligent hearers in the schools of art, of being able to comprehend what others discover, and to remember what others teach. Even those to whom Providence has allotted greater strength of understanding, can expect only to improve a single science. In every other part of learning, they must be content to follow opinions, which they are not able to examine; and, even in that which they claim as peculiarly their own, can seldom add more than some small particle of knowledge, to the hereditary stock devolved to them from ancient times, the collective labour of a thousand intellects.” 

[Samuel Johnson, The Rambler #121; May 14, 1751.]

1 comment:

Brian said...

We live in times where the dismantling of cultural memory is the goal of contemporary intellects. The collective labour of a thousand intellects chipped to rubble by the thousand hammers of a zombie army.

Here in Canada, one of the few Johnsonian voices of reason is Rex Murphy whose graceful erudition continues to remind his readership of what we have lost.