Monday, August 29, 2011

Analyze that

"In our eagerness to solve the material deficiencies of the old civilization, we imported into our schools a method as humble as the English sparrow--simple analysis--but now, the immensity of our success threatens with Toynbeean predictability to overwhelm us.  Like the thinker whose brilliance we universally acclaim, Alfred North Whitehead, we have cultivated a perverse form of modesty and self-deception that, in the absence of dogma (the working yet scientifically undemonstrable hypotheses of the old civilization), has allowed us to forget who we are and what our purposes are, as well as to neglect to teach these lessons to our children."--David V. Hicks, Norms and Nobility (1981)

"Now you must remember, whenever you have to do with him, that Analysis, like fire, is a very good servant, but a very bad master. For, having got his freedom only of late years or so, he is, like young men when they come suddenly to be their own masters, apt to be conceited, and to fancy that he knows everything, when really he knows nothing, and can never know anything, but only knows about things, which is a very different matter. Indeed, nowadays he pretends that he can teach his old grandmother, Madam How, not only how to suck eggs, but to make eggs into the bargain; while the good old lady just laughs at him kindly, and lets him run on, because she knows he will grow wiser in time, and learn humility by his mistakes and failures, as I hope you will from yours."--Charles Kingsley, Madam How and Lady Why (1869)

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