Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sic transit gloria mundi—Apple’s Steve Jobs « St Stephen's Anglican Church:

Many of those paying tribute to Mr. Jobs seemed particularly admiring of a 2005 commencement address he delivered at Stanford University and commended the advice he offered to the students.

He told them, for example: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking … have the courage to follow your heart and intuition …”

Certainly this advice is in keeping with the spirit of the times, and one cannot deny the value of occasionally “thinking outside the box.” But to dismiss dogma as “a trap” and to be contemptuous of “living with the results of other people’s thinking” is merely a verbose endorsement Henry Ford’s culturally and economically suicidal assertion: “History is bunk.”

To be sure, in free and open societies, innovation is both essential (and inevitable). But today’s innovations are built upon the innovations of yesteryear. History—which can be rightly defined as “the results of other people’s thinking”—is a vitally important text book for living. Indeed, as the Harvard philosopher George Santayana observed: Those who will not learn from [it] are doomed to repeat it.