Choosing a goal in your life fosters intellectual discipline
Since I began to live with myself, and to pay attention to the price of time, to the brevity of life, to the uselessness of the things one spends one's time with in the world, I have wondered at my former behavior: at taking extreme care of my teeth, of my hair and at neglecting my mind and my understanding. I have observed that the mind rusts more easily than iron, and that it is even more difficult to restore to its first polish. Such sensible reflections do not, however, give the soul back that flexibility it lost from lack of exercise when one is no longer in the first flush of youth.
The fakirs of the East Indies lose the use of the muscles in their arms, because those are always in the same position and are not used at all. Thus do we lose our own ideas when we neglect to cultivate them, It is a fire that dies if one does not continually give it the wood needed to maintain it. So, wishing if it is possible to make up for such a great mistake, and to make it bear the fruits that I can still look Forward to, I sought for some kind of occupation that could, in focusing my mind, give it that firmness (if I can put it that way) that can never be acquired unless one has chosen a goal for one's studies. One must conduct oneself as in everyday life; one must know what one wants to be. In the latter endeavors irresolution produces false steps, and in the life of the mind confused ideas.
Yet, certainly, the wise learn many things from their enemies; for caution preserves all things. From a friend you could not learn this, but your foe immediately obliges you to learn it. For example, the states have learned from enemies, and not from friends, to build lofty walls, and to possess ships of war. And this lesson preserves children, house, and possessions.
The present theory then must be considered to be a suggested program or framework for future research and must stand ...
It’s saying no.
That’s your first hint that something’s alive. It says no. That’s how you know a baby is starting to turn into a person. They run around saying no all day, throwing their aliveness at everything to see what it’ll stick to. You can’t say no if you don’t have desires and opinions and wants of your own. You wouldn’t even want to.
No is the heart of thinking.