Rules for Enhancing Knowledge

These rules are culled and edited from Isaac Watts’ Logic as well as The Improvement of the Mind.

  1. Furnish yourself with a rich variety of ideas through an eager attitude, profitable conversation, and reading good books.
  2. Use the most proper methods to retain that treasure of ideas which you have acquired; for the mind is ready to let many of them slip, unless some pains and labour be taken to fix them upon the memory.
  3. When you hear an idea, remember the source of your learning, and do not give too much confidence to a source that has not merited your dependence.
  4. As much as is possible and wise, learn ideas from the original thing, not from other’s ideas of that thing.
  5. Your mind will focus more easily on study if you consider the divine pleasure that God has in all knowledge, the help you will be to others through learning more, and the great happiness you will secure for yourself in the next world through acquiring truth.
  6. Contrive and practice some methods for acquainting yourself with your own level of ignorance.
  7. Remember that learning and study is hard work—harder than most people think.
  8. Do not give your consent to any questionable proposition until the evidence is unquestionable about that particular proposition.
  9. Never be afraid to admit that you were wrong, when the evidence clearly convinces you. If you exchange a falsehood for a truth, then you are the winner not the loser.
  10. Throw down any thoughts of pride and intellectual self-praise when they come up.
  11. Judge books and people carefully remembering that some parts of a book will be stronger than others. Men’s thoughts too will fluctuate in power, goodness, and logic.
  12. Before declaring a strong opinion on a subject, be certain that your confidence rests on good evidence.

And by way of clarification, Watts’ leaning on “evidence” still fits nicely with a Christian epistemology if some of the evidence that is allowed to sway our opinions is the Word of God. So, some evidence for numbers 8 and 12 could be the authoritative statements of Divine revelation.

 

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