Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Astell on Improvement of Understanding

259. All understandings should be improved. All understandings are not of equal reach and brightness, but all may and ought to be improved; the most excellent because they are most capable of improvement, and the meaner because they need it most. But whether the having too high or too low an opinion of our own abilities is the greater hindrance, is not easily determined; for they who think they can't improve, will no more attempt it than they who think they need not. Experience shows, that people often act in this case just contrary to what they ought; it being easier to make some ladies understand everything, than to persuade them that they are capable of understanding anything. On the other hand, they are usually most confident of themselves, who have least reason to be so.

[Mary Astell, The Christian Religion, as Professed by a Daughter of the Church of England, Broad, ed. Iter Inc. & Center for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (Toronto: 2013) p. 201.]

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