Reference > Quotations > S. Austin Allibone, comp. > Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay
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S. Austin Allibone, comp.  Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay.  1880.
 
Attention
 
  Our minds are so constructed that we can keep the attention fixed on a particular object until we have, as it were, looked all around it; and the mind that possesses this faculty in the highest degree of perfection will take cognizance of relations of which another mind has no perception. It is this, much more than any difference in the abstract power of reasoning, which constitutes the vast difference between the minds of different individuals. This is the history alike of the poetic genius and of the genius of discovery in science. “I keep the subject,” said Sir Isaac Newton, “constantly before me, and wait until the dawnings open by little and little into a full light.” It was thus that after long meditation he was led to the invention of fluxions, and to the anticipation of the modern discovery of the combustibility of the diamond. It was thus that Harvey discovered the circulation of the blood, and that those views were suggested by Davy which laid the foundation of that grand series of experimental researches which terminated in the decomposition of the earths and alkalies.
Sir Benjamin Brodie.    
  1
 
  In the power of fixing the attention, the most precious of the intellectual habits, mankind differ greatly; but every man possesses some, and it will increase the more it is exerted. He who exercises no discipline over himself in this respect acquires such a volatility of mind, such a vagrancy of imagination, as dooms him to be the sport of every mental vanity: it is impossible such a man should attain to true wisdom. If we cultivate, on the contrary, a habit of attention, it will become natural; thought will strike its roots deep, and we shall, by degrees, experience no difficulty in following the track of the longest connected discourse.
Robert Hall: On Hearing the Word.    
  2
 
  To view attention as a special state of intelligence, and to distinguish it from consciousness, is utterly inept.
Sir William Hamilton.    
  3
 
  It is a way of calling a man a fool when no heed is given to what he says.
Roger L’Estrange.    
  4
 
  By attention ideas are registered in the memory.
John Locke.    
  5
 
  Some ideas which have more than once offered themselves to the senses have yet been little taken notice of; the mind being either heedless, as in children, or otherwise employed, as in men.
John Locke.    
  6
 
  He will have no more clear ideas of all the operations of his mind, than he will have all the particular ideas of any landscape or clock, who will not turn his eyes to it and with attention heed all the parts of it.
John Locke.    
  7
 
  This difference of intention and remission of the mind in thinking every one has experienced in himself.
John Locke.    
  8
 
  If we would weigh and keep in our minds what we are considering, that would instruct us when we should, or should not, branch into distinctions.
John Locke.    
  9
 
  When the mind has brought itself to attention it will be able to cope with difficulties and master them, and then it may go on roundly.
John Locke.    
  10
 
  I have discovered no other way to keep our thoughts close to their business, but by frequent attention and application getting the habit of attention and application.
John Locke.    
  11
 
  I never knew any man cured of inattention.
Jonathan Swift.    
  12
 
  There is not much difficulty in confining the mind to contemplate what we have a great desire to know.
Dr. Isaac Watts.    
  13
 
 
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