Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Wisdom from Cicero

Before all other things, man is distinguished by his pursuit and investigation of truth. And hence, when free from needful business and cares, we delight to see, to hear, and to communicate, and consider a knowledge of many admirable and abstruse things necessary to the good conduct and happiness of our lives: whence it is clear that whatsoever is true, simple, and direct, the same is most congenial to our nature as men. Closely allied with this earnest longing to see and know the truth, is a kind of dignified and princely sentiment which forbids a mind, naturally well constituted, to submit its faculties to any but those who announce it in precept or in doctrine, or to yield obedience to any orders but such as are at once just, lawful, and founded on utility. From this source spring greatness of mind and contempt of worldly advantages and troubles.

Cicero, De Officiis, Lib. 1 Sect. 13. (John F. W. Herschel's translation, affixed to the front of his work, Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy (1830).)

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