For decades now, many in the West have suffered from a peculiar kind of spiritual anorexia. This disease of the spirit, extremely widespread, stems from our anti-introspection and anti-intellectual attitude. We favour extraversion over introversion and regard the pursuit of knowledge (as opposed to mere information) as the work of boring nerds and eccentric geeks. However, such wilful myopia comes at a cost. When we turn our backs on genuine understanding, we turn our backs on wisdom. But wisdom is the nourishing food of the spirit. Therefore, on the spiritual plane we are like anorexic girls — we refuse to “eat.”
Hard-won personal wisdom is the only cure for spiritual hunger. (Image: public domain.)
Nowadays, we strongly emphasize emotion. Our IQs seem to matter little while our EQs loom large. I thought it would be useful to remind ourselves of what it means to be a thinker.
With the emphasis now on feelings are we, as a society, losing sight of the value of thinking? (Image: public domain)
The Desire of Knowledge
French philosopher and spiritual writer Antonin Sertillanges writes: “The desire of knowledge defines our intelligence as a vital force … it is the thinker’s special characteristic to be obsessed by the desire for knowledge.”
In other words, for the thinker, the acquisition of knowledge is an emotionally important idea. It is what American psychologist Carl Rogers would call a “subjectively formed guiding principle.” This means acquiring knowledge is one of the primary objects of the thinker’s authentic will. The activity is not an add-on, an external “interest” he has acquired; it is a fundamental part of his self and personality. The behaviour will have been there from early childhood remaining unrecognized until the thinker matures and turns to matters that are more serious and noteworthy.