Sunday, June 13, 2010

Thinking vs. Scholarship

Here is a passage worth deeply pondering from Harry Blamires: "Obviously there is no scholar who does not think; and there is no thinker who is quite devoid of scholarship. Nevertheless the distinction between Scholarship and Thinking is a fruitful one to ponder: and at least it will serve to indicate that just as there is a dearth of Christian thinking in the Church, so in our secular culture there a dearth of pure thinking as opposed to that recording, commenting, and elucidating which constitute scholarship" ("The Christian Mind," pp. 51-51, 1963).

Too few people engage in good or any scholarship, and even fewer are truly thinkers. Let us strive to do both well.


havoc said...

Sadly, I do know 'thinkers' who are very nearly (possibly completely) devoid of scholarship. They think completely within the confines of their native thoughts. These people never bother to check their thinking against outside references. As a consequence, they view themselves as quite brilliant. As Mortimer Adler recently pointed out to me (in /Ten Philosophical Mistakes), this is exactly what happened to Hume, Kant and Locke, and resulted in their highly flawed, and unsustainable schools of philosophy.

Thinking can happen in a vacuum. Scholarship can happen in the opposite kind of vacuum. Only when the two are brought together do they form an alloy that good things can be done with.

Sarah Geis said...

Hi Jody,

You're right! Though I believe that Blamires is talking about a deeper, critical kind of thinking rather than generally processing thoughts. A better way to say it might be: all thinkers of this sort must also be some kind of learners and must appreciate scholarship to some degree. At least with Hume, Kant, and Locke, they were concerned with ultimate questions of meaning, epistemology, and ontology. They were both scholars and "Blamirian" thinkers, though they were also quite wrong. While they were incorrect in many areas, they were still learning with a purpose, rather than just learning merely to learn. That quality of purposeful learning is what we all too often lack as a society today, if we learn at all.