Quote for today XXVI

Someone who had begun to read geometry with Euclid, when he had learnt the first theorem asked Euclid, “But what advantage shall I get by learning these things?” Euclid called his slave and said, “Give him threepence, since he must needs make profit out of what he learns.”

Stobaeus, Extracts ii. 31. 114, ed. Wachsmuth ii. 228. 25-29

To comment on Euclid (I gather commentaries were popular once upon time, so why not again?): not that there’s anything wrong with profit, especially if that profit means helping starving tots rather than just stuffing your own pockets (not that that’s intrinsically wrong either), but there are other equally valid and even better reasons to learn: and the chief of those, in this pompous and insignificant commentor’s view, is the reason that the very act of discovery and understanding is intensely pleasurable, and can be quite as intense, addictive and extreme as any physical or social thrill.

Also, you don’t need to wash your hands afterwards, unlike with certain types of sex and social encounters.

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