JULY 14, 1949
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—A few nights ago I read a pamphlet by Harold Taylor, president of Sarah Lawrence College, entitled, "Philosophy As Process." It is, I gather, a reprint of the speech he delivered at Teachers College last winter. One passage seems to me a very wise one to bring to the attention of any teachers. It reads:
"There are as many roads to the attainment of wisdom as there are people who undertake to walk them. There are as many solid truths as there are people who can search them out and stand on them firmly. There are as many ideas and ideals as there are men of good will, who will hold them in their minds and act them in their lives. There are as many philosophers as there are men who will give themselves up to the joy and rigor and continuous thought about man's existence."
Perhaps the most important study for us all today is the study of man himself. We know so little about him, what makes him do certain things as a mass group, and what motivates the individuals whom we know best around us.
I was talking the other day to Dr. Sarah Sidis, of Miami, the widow of a brilliant man and the mother of brilliant children. When I know more about it, I will tell you something of a plan she told me about. This plan is to materialize, I believe, at Miami University. A most interesting observation I got out of my conversation with her is the fact that she believes it is not only brilliant children like hers who can learn to acquire knowledge quickly. Intelligent parents can have intelligent children by learning how to teach them to reason. Parents should encourage them along the lines that are interesting to them and let them find out there is nothing in the world that does not hold interest for them.
I am afraid most of us, as parents, do not understand how to accomplish that extraordinary thing that Dr. Sidis was telling me about. But if we can learn it, it is certainly well worth trying. It might mean that a great many of our difficulties with children would be solved. It might also mean that we could come to understand and make life pleasanter for our children at a very much younger age.
In any case, I wish we could take more seriously the work of such men in our medical profession as are now prepared to work on mental health and try to use it not only in the individual field, but in the international field. I do not see how we can hope, through any panaceas, to attain peace. It can come only by slow and persistent work within the United Nations for better understanding on every level. For that reason we should be willing to get help from such men as are successfully studying the mental processes of man today.