Thursday, January 08, 2015

Shallow and Abstruse

The greater part of mankind may be divided into two classes; that of shallow thinkers, who fall short of the truth; and that of abstruse thinkers, who go beyond it. The latter class are by far the most rare: and I may add, by far the most useful and valuable. They suggest hints, at least, and start difficulties, which they want, perhaps, skill to pursue; but which may produce fine discoveries, when handled by men who have a more just way of thinking. At worst, what they say is uncommon; and if it should cost some pains to comprehend it, one has, however, the pleasure of hearing something that is new. An author is little to be valued, who tells us nothing but what we can learn from every coffee-house conversation.

All people of shallow thought are apt to decry even those of solid understanding, as abstruse thinkers, and metaphysicians, and refiners; and never will allow any thing to be just which is beyond their own weak conceptions.

David Hume, "Of Commerce".

3 comments:

  1. Greta5:13 AM

    Timeo hominem unius libri!

    ReplyDelete
  2. branemrys1:22 PM

    A little learning is a dang'rous thing;
    Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
    There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
    And drinking largely sobers us again.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I can't lay my finger on chapter and verse, but I have read in Whitehead something to the effect that most philosophy worth anything consists of an exaggeration being played out. I.e., abstruse.

    ReplyDelete

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