Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Ancient Secrets for a Sharper Mind

A very excellent article written by Fr. Dominic Legge, O.P. of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph. Check it out.
How often have you, after a day of multi-tasking, felt scattered and dissipated? Man is supposed to be homo sapiens, but there is a difference between genuine knowledge and information, between the concentration of a true scholar and the bleary-eyed absorption of the chronic web surfer.

The ancients grasped this, even before the internet age, and recovering their secrets can sharpen your mind, and even help you better your grades.

The key, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, is not just a matter of study habits - and it certainly isn't a matter of having unlimited access to the internet. Rather, it is a matter of training your desire for knowledge, so that you develop the virtue of studiousness and not the vice of curiositas.

Aquinas takes his starting point from Aristotle: Everyone desires to know. Though knowledge can be put to a bad use (you can use it for evil purposes, like defrauding your neighbor, or even killing an unborn baby in the name of scientific research), all true knowledge, considered in itself, is good. The desire to know is a spiritual desire for a spiritual good, the truth, and it comes with its own pleasures (and true pleasures they are!)

... Still, as every high school freshman is acutely aware, even the delights of the spirit don't suppress our bodily desires, which often pull us in a different direction. "Because of his bodily nature, man avoids the labor involved in seeking knowledge," says Aquinas. Studiousness is the virtue that strengthens our perseverance in pursuing the higher but harder-to-reach pleasures of worthy knowledge.
Read the rest!


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