a commonplace book
Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man. And therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit: and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know, that he doth not.
Sir Francis Bacon, “Of Studies” (1625)
An intriguing illustration of wisdom as a circular (cyclical?) model of communication (or better, a rock-paper-scissors model). Bacon frequently makes these sorts of direct causal arguments. While difficult to prove, they make for lovely sentences. And of course Bacon seems to exemplify his own advice.
I particularly appreciate the relationship established between reading, conference and writing. Indeed, coming to one’s own conclusions without dialogical engagement can be problematic; as Sandel puts it, philosophical reflection requires an interlocutor.
What does it mean to be a “full man” via reading? How is being “full” tied to memory, which Bacon implies is the deficit incurred by the lack of reading?