Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

A fire in the mind

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Gilbert Stuart portrait of Thomas Jefferson

If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged it forces itself into the possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me receives instruction himself without lessening mine, receives light without darkening me.

That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation.

Thomas Jefferson

Written by nevalalee

July 4, 2015 at 7:30 am

Posted in Quote of the Day

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