Dilettante Quotes (2 quotes)
Lectures with demonstrations are certainly valuable—more valuable than the lectures with text-books alone. Yet analyzing the object itself is infinitely more valuable than to watch the results exposed by another. Wrestling with the part which is being studied, handling it and viewing it from all sides, and tabulating and classifying the parts worked out, give us the greatest reward. All this can be accomplished by practical laboratory work. If we can make the student work thoroughly and carefully, a great result is achieved. It makes of him an artist, an actor, an expert, not a dilettante. He is upon the stage, not in the audience.
Mathematicians attach great importance to the elegance of their methods and their results. This is not pure dilettantism. What is it indeed that gives us the feeling of elegance in a solution, in a demonstration? It is the harmony of the diverse parts, their symmetry, their happy balance; in a word it is all that introduces order, all that gives unity, that permits us to see clearly and to comprehend at once both the ensemble and the details. But this is exactly what yields great results, in fact the more we see this aggregate clearly and at a single glance, the better we perceive its analogies with other neighboring objects, consequently the more chances we have of divining the possible generalizations. Elegance may produce the feeling of the unforeseen by the unexpected meeting of objects we are not accustomed to bring together; there again it is fruitful, since it thus unveils for us kinships before unrecognized. It is fruitful even when it results only from the contrast between the simplicity of the means and the complexity of the problem set; it makes us then think of the reason for this contrast and very often makes us see that chance is not the reason; that it is to be found in some unexpected law. In a word, the feeling of mathematical elegance is only the satisfaction due to any adaptation of the solution to the needs of our mind, and it is because of this very adaptation that this solution can be for us an instrument. Consequently this esthetic satisfaction is bound up with the economy of thought.