'It may sometimes happen that a truth, an insight, which you have slowly and laboriously puzzled out by thinking for yourself could easily have been found already written in a book; but it is a hundred times more valuable if you have arrived at it by thinking for yourself. For only then will it enter your thought-system as an integral part and living member, be perfectly and firmly consistent with it and in accord with all its other consequences and conclusions, bear the hue, colour and stamp of your whole manner of thinking, and have arrived at just the moment it was needed; thus it will stay firmly and for ever lodged on your mind.'
Arthur Schopenhauer, 'On Thinking For Yourself'
I currently working my way through Schopenhauer's Essays and Aphorisms, and came across the above on my travels. There is a tendency when reading philosophy to fall into a search for unified and complete explanations, or grand universal theories - to become passive and receptive to the strands of a given argument without an active engagement or questioning of the texts one is reading. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that it's a bad thing, and that stepping back to collect one's thoughts can have a positive effect. It's refreshing, then, to see Schopenhauer urging his readers not to take what they read for granted, but to engage in a little thinking of their own.