Paraphrase of “Of Studies”.
Studying is useful for enjoyment, decoration, and skills. It can be delightful when done privately and in seclusion. It adds beauty to our conversations and speeches. It enhances our abilities to judge and handle business matters. While experts can handle individual details well, the overall strategies and arrangements come best from learned individuals.
However, spending too much time on studies is lazy. Using knowledge solely for the show is insincere. Relying only on bookish rules to make judgments is the folly of a scholar. Studies improve our natural abilities, just like how plants need pruning to grow better. But studies must be balanced with real-world experience, as they can sometimes provide too much theoretical knowledge.
Crafty people may scorn studies, simple folks admire them, and wise individuals utilize them wisely. Books should not be read only to argue and disprove, believe blindly, or engage in casual talk. Instead, they should be weighed and considered thoughtfully.
Some books are meant to be skimmed, some to be read partially, and a few to be read thoroughly and attentively. Some books can be summarized by others, especially the less important ones. Otherwise, relying solely on distilled knowledge is shallow.
Reading makes a person knowledgeable, discussions make one quick-witted, and writing makes one precise. If someone writes little, they need a good memory. If they talk little, they need a sharp mind. If they read little, they must act cleverly to pretend knowledge.
Different subjects of study shape different qualities in people. History makes us wise, poetry makes us witty, mathematics makes us sharp, natural philosophy makes us deep thinkers, moral studies make us serious, while logic and rhetoric sharpen our debating skills.
One’s character is influenced by their studies. And any shortcomings in the mind can be overcome through suitable studies, just like specific exercises can cure bodily diseases. For example, mathematics can help a wandering mind to focus, studying Schoolmen can develop a keen sense of distinction, and learning the cases of lawyers can improve analytical abilities. Every mental deficiency has a specific remedy in the right kind of study.