If you were to find these words, and no others, written on a piece of paper, “Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world,” and didn’t know who said it or when, you could agree or disagree with the words themselves.

However, if I were to have the words, “Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world,” about seventy pages into a book of mine, your reaction to them would be colored by your reaction to what I’ve said so far.

Further, if I were to say, “The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said, ‘Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world,’” the logical and critical mind we are told to have would be even more removed from the words themselves. You might assume that I’m a snob, or happy with myself, able to quote “German philosophers.” Or you might know something about German philosophy or Schopenhauer, and like or dislike one or the other; you might like or dislike Germans for whatever reason; you might like or dislike philosophy; you may have a good or a bad reaction to a last name that seems either strange or familiar to you; or, at the mention of someone named Arthur, you might think of King Arthur, your uncle Arthur, your boss Arthur, or a man named Arthur who ran off with your wife.

I could give even more distracting—yet entirely factual—information and say, “While riding the New York subway I saw this quote from Arthur Schopenhauer which went, ‘Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world,’ and thought how perfect it would be for a book I’ve been wanting to write for many years; and it also reminded me of first hearing about Schopenhauer a long time ago, and how he said the Hindu Upanishads had been the solace of his life, and would be the solace of his death.” And now, my once having lived in New York City, my desire to assure you I’m not from there but from Ohio (and that I have since moved to Pennsylvania), my riding the subway, my knowing about Schopenhauer, your reaction to Hinduism and their scriptures, and all the rest—all have gotten in the way of the words themselves.

This is not to say that such a line of thought, and making these connections, is inherently harmful or distracting, but it is both of those, and worse, when it comes to religion.

The impulse to think too much must be controlled, just as the impulse to not think—to accept anything so easily that no thought is needed—must also be controlled.

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