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#1 - Introduction

Improvement of the Mind

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Summary

"No man is obliged to learn and know everything; this can neither be sought nor required, for it is utterly impossible; yet all persons are under some obligation to improve their own understanding; otherwise it will be a barren desert, or a forest overgrown with weeds and brambles. Universal ignorance or infinite errors will overspread the mind which is utterly neglected and lies without any cultivation.

The common duties and benefits of society, which belong to every man living, as we are social creatures, and even our native and necessary relations to a family, a neighborhood, or government, oblige all persons, whatsoever, to use their reasoning powers upon a thousand occasions; every hour of life calls for some regular exercise of our judgment, as to time and things, persons and actions: without a prudent and discreet determination in matters before us, we shall be plunged into perpetual errors in our conduct. Now, that which should always be practiced must at some time be learned."

This version has been abridged from Watt's original by Stephen Norris Fellows as follows:
"In endeavoring to adapt it to the needs of the present, the following changes have been made: First β€” Nearly one-third of the book has been eliminated, as being too theological or too closely related to the age and country of the author. Second β€” A brief but comprehensive analysis has been prepared, which appears as a table of contents. Third β€” Prominence is given to some of the more essential doctrines by stating them in large type, while explanatory and illustrative matter is given in smaller type.
But few changes have been made in the text other than those mentioned above, as it seemed desirable to preserve the unique and forcible style of the author. The original work was first published in 1727, and although it is over one hundred and fifty years old, yet its teachings are in substantial harmony with the truest pedagogical doctrines of to-day. It is believed that in its present form and dress it is adapted to private reading, and reading circles, and also as a text-book in Secondary and NormaI Schools." - Summary by Introduction and Preface

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