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Walter Lippmann on Public Opinion, Our Slippery Grasp of Truth, and the Discipline of Apprehending Reality Clearly – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

“Truth always rests with the minority … because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion, while the strength of a majority is illusory, formed by the gangs who have no opinion,” Kierkegaard wrote in his journal in the middle of the nineteenth century as he tussled with the eternal question of why we conform. Around the same time, across the Atlantic, Emerson fumed in his own diary as he contemplated the supreme existential challenge of…

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The Great Naturalist John Burroughs on Art, the Courage to Defy Convention, and the Measure of a Visionary – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

Art is both foreground and background to all social change, the fulcrum by which we raise our personal and political standards, the wheel that propels every revolution — in thought, in feeling, in the constellation of customs, beliefs, principles, power structures, and sensibilities we call culture. “Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art,” Ursula K. Le Guin asserted in her superb National Book Award acceptance speech. It is hardly…

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Shakespeare’s Advice on Acquiring Better Habits – Brain Pickings

“Assume a virtue, if you have it not.” By Maria Popova “The patterns of our lives reveal us. Our habits measure us,” Mary Oliver wrote in contemplating how habit gives shape to our inner lives. “Every smallest stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its never so little scar,” William James asserted a century earlier in his foundational treatise on the psychology of habit. “Good habits, imperceptibly fixed, are far preferable to the precepts of reason,” the pioneering political philosopher…

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Stunning 19th-Century French Natural History Illustrations of Beetles – Brain Pickings

The exoskeletal strangeness and splendor of creatures almost entirely unlike us yet thoroughly of this shared world. By Maria Popova “I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars,” the Nobel-winning Polish poet Wisława Szymborska wrote in her stunning poem “Possibilities.” And why shouldn’t we? We are, after all, creatures pinned to scales of space and time far closer to those of the insects than to those of the stars. I was reminded of Szymborska’s strange and beautiful…

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