Thursday, March 08, 2007

Word to Study and Live By

I just finished reading a book called the Didascalion by Hugh of Saint Victor. The title of the book literally means "teaching" (Dida...think didactic) "ladder" (scal..think climb? not sure, because my latin is non-existent). Hugh's mind is limitless when it comes to lists and he records detail with the scholastic anal retension that is amusing at times. Especially interesting is his discussion of the mechanical knowledge of "Fabric Making" He writes:

Fabric making includes all the kinds of weaving, sewing, and twisting which are accomplished by hand, needle, spindle, awl, skein winder, comb, loom, crisper, iron, or any other instruments whatever; out of any material made of flax or fleece, or any sort of hide, whether scraped or hairy, out of cane as well, or cork, or rushes, or hair, or tufts, or any material of this sort whihch can be used for the making of clothes, coverings, drapery, blankets, saddles, carpets, curtains, napkins, felts, strings, nets, ropes; out of straw too, from which men usually make their hats and baskets (75).

Yes, that is one long sentence, and yes, it has changed my life.

Seriously though, his discussion of academic humilty is important and quite life-changing, if you believe it and try to appropriate it. I hope I can and hope anyone who reads this will want to as well.

He says:

"There is no one to whom it is given to know all things. The wise student, therefore, gladly hears all, reads all, and looks down upon no writing, no person, no teaching. From all indifferently he seeks what he sees he lacks, and he considers not how much he knows, but of how much he is ignorant. For this reason men repeat Plato's saying: 'I would rather learn with modesty what another man says than shamelessly push forward my own ideas.' Why do you blush to be taught and yet not blush at your ignorance? The latter is a greater shame than the former. Or why should you affect the heights when you are still lying in the depths? Consider, rather, what your powers will at present permit: the man who proceeds stage by stage moves along best. Certain fellows, wishing to make a great leap of progress, sprawl headlong. Do not hurry too much, therefore; in this way you will come more quickly to wisdom. Gladly learn from all what you do not know, for humility can make you a sharer in the special gift which natural endowment has given to every man. You will be wiser than all if you are willing to learn from all" (96).

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

So true- "professing to be wise they became fools." a constant danger here at Redeems.