History and humility

Quote for the day:

“A man who does not know what has been thought by those who have gone before him is sure to set an undue value upon his own ideas”

- Source: Mark Pattison, Memoirs

I don’t really know how to tally this up with the idea that thinking for yourself can be made harder if you do the Lichtenberg “letting books think for you” thing. Humility is definitely a virtue, as far as I’m concerned. And I agree wholeheartedly with Pattison’s sentiment. But equally I think it’s easy to get a variant of Stockholm syndrome if you spend too much time reading other’s thoughts.

Maybe that’s no bad thing, I don’t know. I suppose the sensible approach is to do your thinking first, aware that others may well have thought the same before you, and then do your research. At least then your thinking will be fresh, if not new, and you stand a chance of understanding, rather than parroting.