Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Quote: Contentiousness or Pursuit of Truth?

"Most people think that winning the argument is what matters, not learning the truth. He who regards conversation as a battle can win only by being an antagonist, only by disagreeing successfully, whether he is right or wrong. The reader who approaches a book in this spirit reads it only to find something he can disagree with. For the disputatious and the contentious, a bone can always be found to pick a quarrel over. It makes no difference whether the bone is really a chip on your own shoulder."
"But if he realizes that the only profit in conversation, with living or dead teachers, is what one can learn from them, if he realizes that you win only by gaining knowledge, not by knocking the other fellow down, he may see the futility of mere contentiousness."1

- Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren

1 Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren, How to Read a Book (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1972), p. 146-147.

What was last year's post? See here.


Bruce said...

Thanks for posting this, I think I may have needed to see it. I think I tend to read very critically, I'll have to think about how I might possibly improve the way I approach reading certain kinds of material, without sacrificing the benefits of good critical reading.

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