5 July 2017

Second-Hand Knowledge

Carl Hilty, Happiness, tr. Francis Greenwood Peabody (New York: Macmillan, 1903), pp. 86-87:
The reading of original sources ... gives one the advantage of being sure of his material, and of having his own judgement about it. There is this further advantage, that the original sources are in most cases not only much briefer, but much more interesting and much easier to remember than the books that have been written about them. Second-hand knowledge never gives the courage and self-confidence which one gets from acquaintance with original sources. One of the great mistakes of modern scholarship, as distinguished from that of the classic world, is — as Winkelmann has pointed out — that our learning in so many cases consists in knowing only what other people have known.
This reminds me of the first Lord Selborne's advice to read the classics, rather than books about the classics.

For the German see Hilty's Gl├╝ck, Vol. 1 (Frauenfeld: Huber & Co., 1907), pp. 164-165.