Improvement of the Mind

Isaac Watts (1674 - 1748) and Stephen Norris Fellows (1830 - 1908)

"No man is obliged to learn and know everything; this can neither be sought nor required, for it is utterly impossible; yet all persons are under some obligation to improve their own understanding; otherwise it will be a barren desert, or a forest overgrown with weeds and brambles. Universal ignorance or infinite errors will overspread the mind which is utterly neglected and lies without any cultivation.

The common duties and benefits of society, which belong to every man living, as we are social creatures, and even our native and necessary relations to a family, a neighborhood, or government, oblige all persons, whatsoever, to use their reasoning powers upon a thousand occasions; every hour of life calls for some regular exercise of our judgment, as to time and things, persons and actions: without a prudent and discreet determination in matters before us, we shall be plunged into perpetual errors in our conduct. Now, that which should always be practiced must at some time be learned."

This version has been abridged from Watt's original by Stephen Norris Fellows as follows:
"In endeavoring to adapt it to the needs of the present, the following changes have been made: First — Nearly one-third of the book has been eliminated, as being too theological or too closely related to the age and country of the author. Second — A brief but comprehensive analysis has been prepared, which appears as a table of contents. Third — Prominence is given to some of the more essential doctrines by stating them in large type, while explanatory and illustrative matter is given in smaller type.
But few changes have been made in the text other than those mentioned above, as it seemed desirable to preserve the unique and forcible style of the author. The original work was first published in 1727, and although it is over one hundred and fifty years old, yet its teachings are in substantial harmony with the truest pedagogical doctrines of to-day. It is believed that in its present form and dress it is adapted to private reading, and reading circles, and also as a text-book in Secondary and NormaI Schools." - Summary by Introduction and Preface

Genre(s): Self-Help

Language: English

Section Chapter Reader Time
Play 00 Introduction InTheDesert
Play 01 General Rules for the Improvement of Knowledge Ron Altman
Play 02 Five Eminent Methods of Gaining Knowledge SreeramC
Play 03 Rules Relating to Observation Leigh Briar
Play 04 Of Books and Reading jenno
Play 05 Judgement of Books jenno
Play 06 Of Living Instructors and Lectures, of Teachers and Learners SreeramC
Play 07 Of Inquiring into the Sense and Meaning of any Writer or Speaker, and especially the Sense of the Sacred Writings InTheDesert
Play 08 Rules of Improvement by Conversation KHand
Play 09 Of Disputes and Debates Owlivia
Play 10 Of Study, or Meditation Kassandra
Play 11 Of Fixing the Attention SreeramC
Play 12 On Enlarging the Capacity of the Mind Leigh Briar
Play 13 Of Improving the Memory Isen7
Play 14 Of Determining a Question Leigh Briar
Play 15 Of Inquiring into Causes and Effects Kerry Adams
Play 16 Methods of Teaching and Reading Lectures SreeramC
Play 17 Of an Instructive Style Kerry Adams
Play 18 Of Convincing Other Persons of any Truth, or Delivering them from Errors and Mistakes Leigh Briar
Play 19 Of Authority. Of the Abuse of it: and of its Real and Proper Use and Service Leigh Briar
Play 20 Of Treating and Managing the Prejudices of Men InTheDesert