The Mind


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The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.
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Plutarch

Plutarch, Greek philosopher, historian, biographer, and priest, lived in Rome during the first century, A.D. An avid defender of free will, and of the soul’s immortality, his ideas have influenced many other great thinkers over the centuries; Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that he found it impossible to “read Plutarch without a tingling of the blood.” This quotation reflects Plutarch’s approach to biography in his best-known work, “Parallel Lives,” a collection of written portraits of well-known Greeks and Romans, such as Caesar, Cicero, and Alexander. Plutarch focused less on listing off his famous subjects’ accomplishments than on evoking their characters, their human nature. For a life — like a mind — is more than the sum of its parts. Whereas a vessel is finite and will eventually run out of space, a fire once kindled will continue to burn, and to consume everything around it.