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.19: …by feeding the mind on truth one enlightens the conscience, by fostering good one guides knowledge
p.21: On what, first and foremost, does all the effort of study depend? On attention, which delimits the field for research, concentrates on it, brings all our powers to bear on it; next, on judgment, which gathers up the fruit of investigation. Now, passions and vices relax attention, scatter it, lead it astray; and they injure the judgment in roundabout ways.
p.21: Knowledge depends on the direction given to our passions and on our moral habits.
p.22: Purity of thought requires purity of soul…
p.25: …ambition may injure studiousness, and hinder the usefulness of its results.
p.28-29: …study must first of all leave room for worship, prayer, direct meditation on the things of God. Study is itself a divine office, an indirect divine office; it seeks out and honors the traces of the Creator, or His images, according as it investigates nature or humanity; but it must make way at the right moment for direct intercourse with Him.
p.32: Neither knowledge, nor any other manifestation of life, should be separated from its roots in the soul and in reality–where the God of the heart and the God of heaven are revealed and are one.
p.37: Live as much as possible in the open air. It is a recognized fact that attention–the nerve of study–is closely related to breathing, and for general health we know that plenty oxygen is a first condition…walks before and after work or even combined with work according to the Greek tradition; all these practices are excellent.
p.38: Set aside every year, and secondarily in the course of the year, time for real vacations
p.38: Pay still more attention to your sleep. Take neither too much nor too little. Too much will make you heavy, stupid, will slow up the blood and the power of thinking; too little will expose you to the risk of prolonging unduly the stimulation of work and dangerously superimposing strain upon strain.