Friday, April 3


Practiced in making choices, readers may be more content than non-readers, as suggested by David Hume in 1742:

The good or ill accidents of life are very little at our disposal; but we are pretty much masters what books we shall read, what diversions we shall partake of, and what company we shall keep. Philosophers have endeavoured to render happiness entirely independent of every thing external. That degree of perfection is impossible to be attained: But every wise man will endeavour to place his happiness on such objects chiefly as depend upon himself: and that is not to be attained so much by any other means as by this delicacy of sentiment. When a man is possessed of that talent, he is more happy by what pleases his taste, than by what gratifies his appetites, and receives more enjoyment from a poem or a piece of reasoning than the most expensive luxury can afford.

Our choices in what we read and with whom we converse influence our level of happiness to some measure. Circumstances and attempts by others to restrict such choices and literary capabilities constrain happiness, too. That does not mean all poems or books or scientific rationales provide such enjoyment, but no one should limit a reader's search. In a globalized world, the challenge is finding balance between selectivity and openness to new ideas.

Readers should remember, too, that a work's value in this area may not be immediately apparent.

David Hume was a Scottish philosopher and historian.  Photo of sculpture of David Hume in Edinburgh, courtesy of David M. Jensen, Storkk and Wikimedia Commons. 

No comments:

Post a Comment