…of this I am sure, that if much writing be a disease, then the best philosophers, both moral and natural, as also the best divines, lawyers, physicians, poets, historians, orators, mathematicians, chemists, and many more have been grievously sick: and Seneca, Pliny, Aristotle, Cicero, Tacitus, Plutarch, Euclid, Homer, Virgil, Ovid, St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, Scotus, Hippocrates, Galen, Paracelsus, and hundreds more, have been at death’s door with the disease of writing.
—Margaret Cavendish (preface to Observations upon Experimental Philosophy,)
One man, acquainted with the Pythagorean theorem, says, ‘One can’t get a meal out of that.’ Another says, ‘What is that to me. I am only interested in the application for practical life. I must find my whole being expressed in it.’ A third, ‘There is no useful application to be gotten out of this, no wise maxim for moral life.’ These expressions are all the same, but we interpret the first as boorish doltishness, the second as common sense and the third as a zeal for the moral interest of mankind.
—Hegel (Aphorisms from the Wastebook)
A fear, even a passing one, always provokes either a weakening or a tautening, depending on the degree of courage, and that is all that is required to damage the extremely delicate and fragile instrument of precision which constitutes our intelligence. Even friendship is, from this point of view, a great danger. The intelligence is defeated as soon as the expression of one’s thoughts is preceded, explicitly or implicitly, by the little word ‘we’. And when the light of intelligence grows dim, it is not very long before the love of good becomes lost.
—Simone Weil (The Need for Roots, p. 27)