Joon Shin Ms. Love A. P. Language & Composition 17 February 2010 O. C. E. #1: Schopenhauer’s Assumption In terms of the human mind, we are currently unable to make definite statements as to how it functions and what factors affect its learning. Arthur Schopenhauer was a man who believed that to read books was to limit self-thinking. In turn, he believed that limiting self-thinking was to limit any chances of expanding one’s intelligence. However, the influences written down in bound sheets of paper are no different from influences of the environment and the world in general.
Schopenhauer states that “if a man does not want to think, the safest plan is to take up a book directly when he has a spare moment. ” Yet, it is interesting to consider that to even process words on a page requires some use of the mind. People do not inherently accept every idea and proposition thrown at them when reading a book. They take the idea and process it, whether they end up agreeing or disagreeing with the idea. It is this process of reasoning that books invoke upon a person.
Books do not tend to represent easy, acceptable ideas to people; books represent the area to philosophize, reason, and expose oneself to the unique and infinite ideas of the world. Schopenhauer’s biggest fallacy is his belief that the human mind is a mindless machine, taking in information without any consideration and analysis of the information. However, the primary function of a book is to force a reader to analyze the ideas it has to offer. If everyone were to accept all the various ideas circulating in our world’s library, then there would be no basis for debate and no conflicting ideas.
Yet there are debates and there are arguments. The analysis of the ideas present in books lead to agreement, disagreement, and neutrality. Nonetheless, the reader rests upon a conclusion after the process of reasoning and logic. Linda Elder and Richard Paul once pointed out, “One cannot be an educated person without consistently learning through reading. ” (Elder and Paul). This “learning” is from the process of constantly analyzing and processing ideas throughout the bound pages of information.
As the mind is presented with new ideas, it strives to comprehend and build off of those ideas, adapting and changing its way of thinking constantly. A book can be thought of as a supplier of the raw and bare thoughts of the world. They do not specifically appeal to any of the five senses and thus, forces our minds to compensate by imagining those senses. A movie, on the other hand, gives us visuals and sounds that feed specific emotions and thoughts to the audience. The audience sees and hears what the director specifically wants him/her to see and hear. There is no room for creativity.
There is no room for individuality to seep in. In fact, most would argue that movies are growing to have detrimental effects upon people in society. The political cartoon “Hollywood Trash” by Jerry Seltzer displays a boy being filled with the “trash” that “Hollywood” is dumping into him. This represents the state of mindlessness one adapts when absorbing the content in a movie. Because the mind is being spoon-fed ideas, it becomes reliant on the crutches that limit the senses and imagination. In a book, no direct image is being fed. Sounds are obsolete as well as physical touch.
The only source of feed the reader has is the words on the pages. For example, when a reader sees the word “blue,” everything from the ocean to the color shirt they were wearing the other day fills his/her mind. Past memories, experiences, and events are all triggered by this word and culminate to form an expanse of images with no limits. This alone can stand as a reason why books force people to use their minds. It is at the level of sub consciousness. To even comprehend words on a page, the mind is brought to work at full gear, providing the images, sounds, feel, smell, and tastes that bring the book to life.
In retrospect, we as humans are influenced by everything in existence. Whether we formulate original ideas or evaluate the ideas of others is regardless in our path of achieving knowledge and information. Our current world today is filled with advertisements and a growing population of electronics and artificial senses. That means that we are finding less use for our natural senses and imagination when we search for forms of entertainment. Schopenhauer says to find our natural influence and to enhance our thinking using the world around us.
Unfortunately, the world around us is quite possibly a thousand times worse than the very books he is trying to denounce. Our minds are filled with influences and daily “trash” from entertainment businesses such as Hollywood. They are being fed the knowledge of the world rather than being forced to hunt for it. So perhaps it is preferable to turn back to the “detrimental” books and seek to expand our intelligence there. After all, the true learning readers inherit from books lies not in the actual information and ideas, but from the resulting process of reasoning and analysis of those ideas.
We are not, as Schopenhauer expresses, stupid from learning. For it isn’t the feed of information from books that rusts our intelligence; on the contrary, it is our ability to respond and expand upon our learning that solidifies our knowledge and builds a base for our intellect to prosper. BIBLIOGRAPHY Lolita in Tehran, Gatsby Paul, Richard, Elder, Linda, Critical Thinking… and the Art of Close Reading (Part I). Journal of Developmental Education 27 no. 2 36-7, 39 Wint. 2003 Seltzer, Jerry. Hollywood Trash. www. ParentsTV. org