I’ve just started reading Peter Watson’s Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention, from Fire to Freud, and I liked these words of wisdom in the introduction:

This is perhaps the most important lesson we can learn from a history of ideas: that intellectual life – arguably the most important, satisfying and characteristic dimension to our existence – is a fragile thing, easily destroyed or wasted.

Also, why has no one ever told me about the Journal of the History of Ideas? My gods, it’s like sacred nerd scripture! Check out his list of some articles that were current at the time of writing:

Plato’s effects on Calvin, Nietzsche’s admiration for Socrates, Buddhism and nineteenth-century German thought, a pre-Freudian psychologist of the unconscious, (Israel Salanter, 1810-1883), the link between Newton and Adam Smith, between Emerson and Hinduism, Bayle’s anticipation of Karl Popper, the parallels between late antiquity and Renaissance Florence.

*deep, shuddering sigh*
I’ve always said that I consider myself “intellectual” if you define the term as being interested in ideas for their own sake, regardless of any practical import they may have. And I’ve known for a long time that I loved Isaiah Berlin’s explanatory blend of history and political philosophy. This? This is about as close as I ever expect to get to finding my “thing” (I refuse to honor Calvin by referring to it as a “calling”). Oh, I’m in love.