Culture and instruction
At first sight and in the general understanding, the distinction between instruction and culture is less clear. But, things being well analyzed, one sees that such a distinction exists and rests upon a solid foundation. A person who reads a great deal is generally considered very cultured, at least as compared with another who reads little. And, between two who read a lot, the one who reads more will be seen as the more cultured. As instruction in itself refines the spirit, it is natural that, all else being equal, one who is better read is considered more cultured. The danger of error in this proposition arises from the fact that many people inadvertently simplify notions and end up considering culture a mere consequence of the number of books read. It is a flagrant error, for reading is advantageous not so much in the quantity as in the quality of the books read, and principally in function of the quality of the one who reads and the reason for which he reads.
That is, reading, in thesis, instructs—in the sense of merely providing information. But a person well read and instructed, or as it may be, a person informed of many facts or notions of scientific, historical, or artistic interest, may well be less cultured than another with a lesser store of knowledge. Instruction only fully refines the spirit when followed by profound assimilation resulting from sound reflection. And for this reason, he who has read little but assimilated much is more cultured than he who has read much but assimilated little. For example, a museum guide is usually quite informed about the exhibits he shows visitors, but, not infrequently, he is little cultured. He limits himself to memorization and looks not to assimilation.
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