Plutarch, On Listening to Lectures (De recta ratione audiendi, Περὶ τοῦ ἀκούειν)

Plutarch. Moralia, Volume I: The Education of Children. How the Young Man Should Study Poetry. On Listening to Lectures. How to Tell a Flatterer from a Friend. How a Man May Become Aware of His Progress in Virtue. Translated by Frank Cole Babbitt. Loeb Classical Library 197. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 19271

Plutarch, On Listening to Lectures (De recta ratione audiendi, Περὶ τοῦ ἀκούειν), 18, Moralia 48C-D:

… For the mind does not require filling like a bottle, but rather, like wood, it only requires kindling to create in it an impulse to think independently and an ardent desire for the truth. Imagine, then, that a man should need to get fire from a neighbour, and, upon finding a big bright fire there, should stay there continually warming himself; just so it is if a man comes to another to share the benefit of a discourse, and does not think it necessary to kindle from it some illumination for himself and some thinking of his own, but, delighting in the discourse, sits enchanted; he gets, as it were, a bright and ruddy glow in the form of opinion imparted to him by what is said, but the mouldiness and darkness of his inner mind he has not dissipated nor banished by the warm glow of philosophy.

Finally, if there be need of any other instruction in regard to listening to a lecture, it is that it is necessary to keep in mind what has here been said, and to cultivate independent thinking along with our learning, so that we may acquire a habit of mind that is not sophistic or bent on acquiring mere information, but one that is deeply ingrained and philosophic, as we may do if we believe that right listening is the beginning of right living.

Plutarchi Chaeronensis Moralia, Vol. I, edited by Gregorios N. Bernardakis, Bibliotheca Scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana, B. G. Teubner, Leipzig, 18882 3 4

Plutarch, On Listening to Lectures (De recta ratione audiendi, Περὶ τοῦ ἀκούειν), 18, Moralia 48C-D:

οὐ γὰρ ὡς ἀγγεῖον ὁ νοῦς ἀποπληρώσεως ἀλλ’ ὑπεκκαύματος μόνον ὥσπερ ὕλη δεῖται, ὁρμὴν ἐμποιοῦντος εὑρετικὴν καὶ ὄρεξιν ἐπὶ τὴν ἀλήθειαν. ὥσπερ οὖν εἴ τις ἐκ γειτόνων πυρὸς δεόμενος, εἶτα πολὺ καὶ λαμπρὸν εὑρὼν αὐτοῦ καταμένοι διὰ τέλους θαλπόμενος, οὕτως εἴ τις ἥκων λόγου μεταλαβεῖν πρὸς ἄλλον οὐκ οἴεται δεῖν φῶς οἰκεῖον ἐξάπτειν καὶ νοῦν ἴδιον, ἀλλὰ χαίρων τῇ ἀκροάσει κάθηται θελγόμενος, οἷον ἔρευθος ἕλκει καὶ γάνωμα τὴν δόξαν ἀπὸ τῶν λόγων, τὸν δ’ ἐντὸς εὐρῶτα τῆς ψυχῆς καὶ ζόφον οὐκ ἐκτεθέρμαγκεν οὐδ’ ἐξέωκε διὰ φιλοσοφίας.

Εἰ δεῖ τινος οὖν πρὸς ἀκρόασιν ἑτέρου παραγγέλματος, δεῖ καὶ τοῦ νῦν εἰρημένου μνημονεύοντας ἀσκεῖν ἅμα τῇ μαθήσει τὴν εὕρεσιν, ἵνα μὴ σοφιστικὴν ἕξιν μηδ’ ἱστορικὴν ἀλλ’ ἐνδιάθετον καὶ φιλόσοφον λαμβάνωμεν, ἀρχὴν τοῦ καλῶς βιῶναι τὸ καλῶς ἀκοῦσαι νομίζοντες.