One of the biggest things that I attribute what intellectual success I have achieved is a book of philosophy by Immanuel Kant that was too hard for me to read and understand.
When I was in high school, a friend of mine was talking about this book that he was reading, and he said the words inside were too big for him to know, and the sentences, too hard to understand. And so, I obviously became curious, and I asked for the book. He gave it to me, and as soon as I got home, I cracked it open, and started reading.
I couldn’t get past the first page. Words like propaedeutic, cognition, and other philosophical jargon were spewed throughout the page, and I couldn’t understand a single thing that Kant was saying. I spent over an hour just “translating” the translated English, into words that I could understand. And although I never made it past a couple of pages, I learned so much within those pages, and best of all, I gained a fascination with philosophy and English. There was a world within English that was past my level of comprehension that held answers to questions that people have had forever. And I was not about to allow myself to be blind to them because I didn’t know a few words.
Philosophy ignited a passion for knowledge, and the term intellectual and philosopher became attributes to strive for. And that is when I started a philosophical journey of my own. I began to read more of Kant, some Derrida, Nietzsche, and some works of existentialism, deconstruction, and much more. I even started philosophizing myself. But the biggest thing I got out of my philosophical trek was this new-founded understanding of asking questions. Questions gave philosophers direction in arguments and discoveries. And so, in order to become a philosopher(or try to), I began to ask, “why?”.
I remember sitting in my statistics class, not focusing on the lecture, and just dissecting what it means to have a friend, and if one actually needs friends in the first place, as well as what purpose they serve. I wrote a lot philosophy in that statistics class, and it was a blast.
And out of this new love for philosophy, and gaining more and more intellectual prowess, came a hunger to learn more. I began to study more, and learn more about everything. I began studying the body and diets in order to learn how variable and strong the body is and can be. I began studying languages seriously for the first time in my life. I picked up a few instruments. I started to learn scholastic subjects for fun, and for the first time in my life, I began to love learning.
so what is this post? Am I telling you to go find the hardest book of philosophy that you can? Kind of~
More importantly, I believe that you should challenge yourself intellectually. More than challenge, you should utterly destroy yourself with difficult works, and understand how much you do not know. And after reminding yourself of this, let your new understanding motivate you to become more in order to understand the works of those who precede you. Well, at least that is what I did.
Just challenge yourself. Become more, and then look back in a couple of years, and see how far you have come. That is all I could want for anybody. Grow, and be the best person you can be.