Life Startup Entrepreneurship Life Lessons
I Too Am a Philosopher!+
A man dedicated to a profession for which he was not born is a dislocated piece: he is of little use and many times he does nothing but suffer and hinder. Perhaps he works with zeal, with ardor; but his efforts are either powerless or do not correspond by far to his desires
Anyone who has ever observed something like this will have easily noticed the bad effects that such a dislocation causes. Men very well endowed for something that shows a pitiful inferiority when they deal with another
An outstanding talent in the social and political sciences can be considered lesser than average with respect to the exact sciences, and vice versa. And what is unique about the difference in talents is that, even when dealing with the same science, some are more specific than others for certain parts. Thus, a person’s disposition to learn mathematics is not the same with respect to arithmetic, algebra and geometry.
In calculation, some are easily instructed in the application part, while they do not advance, equally or by much, in the generalization part; some people advance in geometry more than expected in the study of algebra and arithmetic. In the proof of the theorems, in the resolution of the problems, very marked differences can be seen: some excel in the ease of applying, building, but stopping only on the surface, without penetrating the bottom of things; while others, not so skilled in the former, are distinguished by the talent of demonstration, by the ease, in generalizing, in seeing results, in deducing distant consequences. The latter are of science, the former are men of practice; study is convenient for these, application work for those practical.
If these differences are noticed in the limits of the same science, what will it be when it comes to those that deal with objects that are most distant from each other? And yet, who takes care to observe them, much less to guide children and young people in the way that suits them? We are all thrown into the same mold; for the choice of professions, everything is usually attended to except the particular disposition of the recipients to them. How much remains to be observed in education and instruction!
In the right choice of career, not only the advancement of the individual is concerned, but the happiness of his entire life. The man who engages in the occupation that adapts enjoys a lot, even amid the toils of work; but the unhappy man who is condemned to tasks for which he was not born must be violently jolting, either to counteract his inclinations, or to supply with effort what he lacks in ability.
Some of the men who have distinguished themselves in their respective profession would probably have been average if they had devoted themselves to another that did not suit them.
Malebranche was busy studying languages and history, and did not show any very advantageous disposition, when he happened to enter a bookseller’s shop where Descartes’s Treatise on Man fell into his hands. He was so impressed by that reading that he recounted having to interrupt it more than once to calm the pounding of his heart. From that day on, Malebranche devoted himself to the study that suited him so perfectly, and ten years later he was already publishing his famous work, The Search After Truth. And it is that the word of Descartes woke up the dormant philosophical genius in the young man under the babble of languages and history; he felt different, he knew that he was capable of understanding those high doctrines and, like the poet reading another poet, he exclaimed: “I too am a philosopher.”
A similar thing happened to Lafontaine. He had turned twenty-two without showing signs of a poetic genius. He did not meet himself until he read Malherbe’s ode on the murder of Henry IV. And this same Lafontaine, who so high bordered on poetry, what would he have been as a businessman? His witticism, which made his friends laugh so much, were not a very good indication of happy dispositions for business.
I have said that it is convenient to observe the particular talent of each child to dedicate him to the career that best suits him and that it would be good to observe what he says or does when he comes across certain objects. Madame Perier, in the Life of her uncle Pascal, says that as a child he was struck one day by the phenomenon of the different sound of a plate being hit with a knife, depending on whether the finger was applied or removed, and that after reflecting Much about the cause of this difference he wrote a small treatise on it. This observing spirit at such a tender age, was it not already announcing the illustrious physicist of the Puy-de-Dome experiment confirming the ideas of Torricelli and Galileo?
Pascal’s father, eager to form the spirit of his son, strengthening him with another kind of study before moving on to mathematics, even avoided talking about geometry in the child’s presence; but the latter, locked in his room, draws figures and more figures with a charcoal, and unfolding the definition of geometry that he had heard demonstrates up to Proposition 32 of Euclid. The genius of the eminent geometer struggled under a powerful inspiration that he was not yet able to comprehend.
The famous Vaucanson is busy examining the construction of a clock in an anteroom where he was waiting for his mother; Instead of tinkering, he lurks around the cracks in the box in case he can discover the mechanism, and then afterwards he tries to build a wooden one that reveals the astonishing genius of the illustrious builder of the ‘piper’ and ‘Cleopatra’s asp’ .
Bossuet, at the age of sixteen, improvised a sermon at the Rambouillet palace which, due to its span of thoughts and ease of expression and style, won the contest, made up of the most selected talents that France counted at that time.
+Balmes, Jaime. El Criterio. Chapter III: Career choice. Section III: Experiment to discern the peculiar talent of each child.