Recently I reread the A.G. Sertillanges’s classic work on the life of the mind: The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods. Sertillanges (1863-1948) was a Catholic writer and a member of the Dominican Order. He published The Intellectual Life in 1934. Read the entire series here.
p.145: Now reading is the universal means of learning, and it is the proximate or remote preparation for every kind of production. We never think entirely alone: we think in company, in a vast collaboration; we work with the workers of the past and of the present.
p.151: …have no superstitious respect for novelty; love the eternal books that express eternal truths.
p.158: The communion of saints is the support of the mystical life; the banquet of the sages, perpetuated by our assiduous cult, is the invigoration of our intellectual life.
p.158: Contact with writers of genius procures us the immediate advantage of lifting us to a higher plane; by their superiority alone they confer a benefit on us even before teaching us anything.
p.160: The society of intelligent minds is always an exclusive society; reading gives us easier entrance to it. We cast on the inspired page an imploring glance that is not in vain; we are helped, paths are opened up to us; we are reassured, initiated; the work of God in rare minds is put to our account as well as to theirs; we grow through them; we are enriched through them.
p.164: An essential condition for profiting by our reading, whether of ordinary books or those of writers of genius, is to tend always to reconcile our authors instead of setting one against another.
p.166: There is a great revelation in discovering the hidden links that exist between ideas and systems the most dissimilar.
p.170: To develop wisdom was the first object of our education; it is still that of the education that we essay to provide for ourselves. Without wisdom, what we take in would be worthless, it would be as useless as was the first when it was on the library shelf.