„In order to improve the mind, we ought less to learn than to contemplate.“

Last update June 3, 2021. History
René Descartes photo
René Descartes45
French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist 1596 - 1650

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William John Macquorn Rankine photo

„The objects of instruction in purely scientific mechanics and physics are, first, to produce in the student that improvement of the understanding which results from the cultivation of natural knowledge, and that elevation of mind which flows from the contemplation of the order of the universe“

—  William John Macquorn Rankine civil engineer 1820 - 1872

"On the Harmony of Theory and Practice in Mechanics" (Jan. 3, 1856)
Context: The objects of instruction in purely scientific mechanics and physics are, first, to produce in the student that improvement of the understanding which results from the cultivation of natural knowledge, and that elevation of mind which flows from the contemplation of the order of the universe; and secondly, if possible, to qualify him to become a scientific discoverer.<!--p. 176

Niccolo Machiavelli photo

„How we live is so different from how we ought to live that he who studies what ought to be done rather than what is done will learn the way to his downfall rather than to his preservation.“

—  Niccolo Machiavelli, book The Prince

Source: The Prince (1513), Ch. 15
Context: Many have imagined republics and principalities which have never been seen or known to exist in reality; for how we live is so far removed from how we ought to live, that he who abandons what is done for what ought to be done, will rather bring about his own ruin than his preservation.

Orson Scott Card photo
W. Edwards Deming photo

„Learning is not compulsory; it's voluntary. Improvement is not compulsory; it's voluntary. But to survive, we must learn.“

—  W. Edwards Deming American professor, author, and consultant 1900 - 1993

Deming: The Way We Knew Him http://books.google.com/books?id=VKBz5RW5yFcC&pg=PA125&dq=%22learning+is+not+compulsory%22+%22+survival%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=fcqtUtH0BYbioATs44HQAw&ved=0CEwQ6AEwBjgy#v=onepage&q=%22learning%20is%20not%20compulsory%22%20%22%20survival%22&f=false (1995)
This quote is often cited as “Learning is not compulsory... neither is survival.”

John Lancaster Spalding photo
George Mason photo
Marcus Aurelius photo
Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury photo

„We must learn this rule, which is true alike of rich and poor — that no man and no class of men ever rise to any permanent improvement in their condition of body or of mind except by relying upon their own personal efforts.“

—  Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury British politician 1830 - 1903

Speech to Devonshire Conservatives (January 1892), as quoted in The Marquis of Salisbury (1892), by James J. Ellis, p. 185
Variant: The only true lasting benefit which the statesman can give to the poor man is so to shape matters that the greatest possible liberty for the exercise of his own moral and intellectual qualities should be offered to him by law.
As quoted in Salisbury — Victorian Titan (1999) by Andrew Roberts
1890s
Context: We must learn this rule, which is true alike of rich and poor — that no man and no class of men ever rise to any permanent improvement in their condition of body or of mind except by relying upon their own personal efforts. The wealth with which the rich man is surrounded is constantly tempting him to forget the truth, ad you see in family after family men degenerating from the position of their fathers because they live sluggishly and enjoy what has been placed before them without appealing to their own exertions. The poor man, especially in these days, may have a similar temptation offered to him by legislation, but this same inexorable rule will work. The only true lasting benefit which the statesman can give to the poor man is so to shape matters that the greatest possible opportunity for the exercise of his own moral and intellectual qualities shall be offered to him by the law; and therefore it is that in my opinion nothing that we can do this year, and nothing that we did before, will equal in the benefit that it will confer upon the physical condition, and with the physical will follow the moral too, of the labouring classes in the rural districts, that measure for free education which we passed last year. It will have the effect of bringing education home to many a family which hitherto has not been able to enjoy it, and in that way, by developing the faculties which nature has given to them, it will be a far surer and a far more valuable aid to extricate them from any of the sufferings or hardships to which they may be exposed than the most lavish gifts of mere sustenance that the State could offer.

Mark Manson photo
Kevin Kelly photo

„We don't have a word for learning and teaching at the same time, but our schooling would improve if we did.“

—  Kevin Kelly American author and editor 1952

Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World (1995)

Wallace Stevens photo

„I am the woman stripped more nakedly
Than nakedness, standing before an inflexible
Order, saying I am the contemplated spouse.“

—  Wallace Stevens American poet 1879 - 1955

Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction (1942), It Must Change
Context: I am the spouse. She took her necklace off
And laid it in the sand. As I am, I am
The spouse. She opened her stone-studded belt. I am the spouse, divested of bright gold,
The spouse beyond emerald or amethyst,
Beyond the burning body that I bear. I am the woman stripped more nakedly
Than nakedness, standing before an inflexible
Order, saying I am the contemplated spouse.

Stephen R. Covey photo

„Prepare your mind and heart before you prepare your speech. What we say may be less important than how we say it.“

—  Stephen R. Covey American educator, author, businessman and motivational speaker 1932 - 2012

Source: Principle-Centered Leadership (1992), Ch. 11

David Hume photo

„Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them“

—  David Hume Scottish philosopher, economist, and historian 1711 - 1776

Tom Cruise photo

„We are the authorities on getting people off drugs. We are the authorities on the mind. We are the authorities on improving conditions. Criminon (sic).“

—  Tom Cruise American actor and film producer 1962

We can rehabilitate criminals. We can bring peace and unite cultures.
Transcript of Tom Cruise on Scientology (January 16, 2008)

„We ought to recognize that uncertainty of mind is not all a bad thing. It is a sign that your mind is still alive, still sensitive.“

—  Halford E. Luccock American Methodist minister 1885 - 1960

Keeping Life Out of Confusion (1938)
Context: We ought to recognize that uncertainty of mind is not all a bad thing. It is a sign that your mind is still alive, still sensitive. If you are not at all confused in this day you are dead mentally and spiritually.
There is of course the peace of the cemetery. If you want that you can have it. But you will pay for such complacent serenity with blind eyes which do not see the world's fear and agony; with deaf ears, into which the still sad music of humanity never comes; with deadened nerves and unsensitized conscience.
We will never be brought to confusion, even in such a baffling and muddled world as ours, if we have a faith in a God of love as the ultimate power in the universe. The words "God is love" have this deep meaning: that everything that is against love is ultimately doomed and damned.

George Savile, 1st Marquess of Halifax photo

„Nothing is less forgiven than setting Patterns Men have no mind to follow.“

—  George Savile, 1st Marquess of Halifax English politician 1633 - 1695

Princes (their Rewards of Servants).
Political, Moral, and Miscellaneous Reflections (1750), Political Thoughts and Reflections

David Hume photo

„We need to try and focus less on ethnicity in this country and concentrate on trying to improve the lot of the marginalized whoever they are.“

—  Joni Madraiwiwi Fijian politician 1957 - 2016

Speech to the Lautoka Rotary Club (Centenary Dinner), 12 March 2005 http://www.fiji.gov.fj/publish/printer_4326.shtml.

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