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Some Trivial Thoughts on the Study of Philosophy
by Graeme Hunter
Descartes says there are five sources of wisdom. Conversation and history are two of them, and they will be my subjects because, like philosophy, they depend on words.
Being social animals, we need interaction with other people. If we are going to be wise, we must file the rough edges of our thinking, not in order to smooth and soften them, but to make them strong and sharp. Conversation is the file society provides for this purpose. It is the best remedy for flaccid wits. Almost any conversation is good, but not all of it makes us wise. Wisdom improves fastest through conversation with people who are already wise. They needn't be credentialed, but to be useful for our mental development, they must be people who easily catch the drift of whatever you propose and just as easily detect its weaknesses. Wise people are seldom eager to converse with youngsters, unless they detect in them some dialectical promise.
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Graeme Hunter is a contributing editor to Touchstone and Research Professor of Philosophy at Dominican University College in Ottawa. He is the author of Radical Protestantism in Spinoza's Thought (Ashgate).
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