Schopenhauer says somewhere that you should never turn down a social invitation for the sake of reading. His point was that your own original thoughts are more stimulated by getting out of the house and becoming involved in a real situation than by reading someone else’s thoughts as set down in a book.
And he has some truth on his side here. Every new situation in which we become involved, whether it be “social” in the narrow sense or not, throws a few minor or major surprises our way. There is something slightly distinct about the emotional tonality with which we react to every new person, place, or thing.
And this suggests the already fairly obvious point that building up a stock of experiences is the best stimulus to your writing. It is quite conceivable in some cases that writing nothing at all for 2 or 3 years might be exactly what someone needs to do for the purposes of better work later on.
George Santayana is an underrated author. In The Sense of Beauty (always the surprise hit of my aesthetics classes whenever I use it) he talks about how beauty and happiness are not the same, that artists (and by extension, thinkers) suffer because they prefer beauty, whereas happiness generally comes from social factors: friends, marriage, a satisfying job, sufficient income so as not to worry, and being held in high esteem in the circles in which you travel. And in fact, it’s a reasonably good rule of thumb. Happiness (though perhaps not self-fulfillment) generally comes from links with other people. Or maybe with animals as well: pets can make us happy too. 8:18 AM
Students shuffling out of the classroom after a discussion of Platonic realism and the possibility of transcendent, objective values independent of culture, history, and individual determination.
STUDENT: “This class is impossible.”
ME (Alarmed): “Why?”
STUDENT: “We come in here thinking we understand the world and now we discover that everything we think might be mistaken.”
from Larval Subjects
Husserl begins with an obvious thesis – “look at the things themselves!” – yet in executing this project he unsettles our assumptions about what it is to experience the world and objects, opening a vast domain that continues to challenge central assumptions in cognitive science, psychology, the social sciences, etc. 5:27 AM