“For the first step in learning is the capacity to doubt, nor is there anything so inimical to learning as the presumption of one’s own erudition or excessive reliance upon one’s own wits: the one takes away our interest in learning, while the other diminishes it, and in this way students unnecessarily deceive themselves. The easiest person to deceive is one’s self, and there is no one our deceit damages more than ourselves. This comes about because inexperienced students have not yet been permitted to assess the byways, bends and precipices which lie hidden in the sciences;* hence they either mistakenly correct many things in books which they are unable to understand well on their own, or they blame the ignorance and carelessness of scribes, passing deliberately over the numerous things they do not understand. Effort and perseverance will shrug off such attitudes, however.” Piero Paolo Vergerio, “Character and Studies Befitting a Free-Born Youth,” in The Great Tradition: Classic Readings on What It Means to Be An Educated Human Being, ed. Richard M. Gamble. Wilmington 2007, p. 323. [Emphasis added]
Vergerio wrote this pedagogical work around 1400. His writing represents the epitome of Renaissance learning and teaching. Here, he points out how students often deceive themselves through presumption or ignorance.
*This word means all areas of knowledge