About research: an overview
The essay “On Explorations” by Samuel Johnson was first published in The Adventurer in 1753. It was an effort by the author to present to his audience the importance of reading, writing and conversation in the makeup of an individual’s personality. The main argument focuses on the reference from Bacon which states that: “reading makes a full man, conversation a ready man, and writing an accurate man.”
The structure of the essay is simple and organized, with mostly short paragraphs that often begin with a topic sentence. However, the sentence structure remains complex throughout the essay. The sentences are very long, with extensive use of strong vocabulary. This not only portrays that the author is very learned, but also that he is trying to make an impression on the readers. The constant flow of ideas is evident in the writing as the author talks about reading, writing and talking one after the other. This helps the reader better understand the author’s point of view. The tone of the essay is serious, and at times critical, as the author criticizes the behavior of the intellect and learned people. The author adopts a very emotional way of writing the essay. The overall impact of the rhetoric in the essay is persuasive and persuasive to the readers.
It is clear from the first paragraph of the essay that the author is critical of his contemporaries. He does think they are “brilliant,” but suggests that they be careful about the importance of reading and the value of considering the opinions and ideas of others. In a way, he advises his contemporaries to acknowledge the work of earlier people and learn from it, instead of taking a hard line towards them. An interesting phenomenon to note here is that the author gives his own example of following the work of his predecessors, as he is referring to Francis Bacon. It can also be interpreted that Samuel Johnson considered Bacon as his role model because in the essay he justifies the necessity of reading, writing and conversation among the people as indicated by Bacon. As indicated by the text of the essay, the author’s target audience is his contemporaries and people who are in one way or another connected with the work of reading and writing, as well as teachers. It can also be ascertained that the author is targeting a learned audience as in a number of places he refers to famous people such as; Persius and Bourchave, of whom ordinary people must be ignorant.
There is no overall conflict to be observed in the essay, it has a simple orientation that covers the main topic; to consider common opinions. There is a slight irony when the author talks about the supposed state of libraries; “…filled only with useless timber…” He suggests that this idea is somehow propagated and tells about the situation of people who are far from needing libraries and books. In the very next paragraph, the author understandably argues that learning from previous generations is essential. He speaks of people who tend to say that they have learned nothing from the writings of their predecessors. The author considers them prejudiced, and says that such people are unlikely to excel alone, as they can never appreciate their own work when they never consider anyone else’s.
Further in the text, the author notes that there are very few people who have been given knowledge, and that these people should consider it their responsibility to impart, share and transfer that knowledge, or at least some of it, to the rest of humanity . The author becomes critical when he says that people who keep knowledge simply crammed into their heads are worthless, “…and by no means should he be considered worthless or empty who has stocked his mind with acquired knowledge.. .” The author argues that anyone who has accumulated knowledge should consider ways to pass it on. The author has also explained with very clear examples the condition of people who have secluded themselves to study, study and write. He thinks that these people, however intellectual they may be, have lost the art of conversation. Giving the example of the chemistry teacher who thinks his students are as bright in chemistry as his own, he says that in fact the teacher himself has forgotten the difference in the state of minds and learning abilities of the different age groups. In another interesting illustration, he relates one of his experiences of attending a lecture by a famous philosopher who, though well learned, could only with great hesitation distinguish between two terms.
As the writer says, “Such was the dexterity with which this learned reader facilitated his auditors in the intricacies of science; and it is so true that a man can know what he cannot teach.”
Towards the end of the essay, the author reconciles the importance of writing and conversation achieved through reading. He says that writing helps to define thoughts, while talking helps to refine and diversify them, and this can only be achieved through rigorous reading.
Samuel Johnson’s essay makes the readers very clear that success in literary fields depends largely on reading, writing, conversation and above all on being considerate of the opinions and ideas of others. The writer concludes the essay by saying that the goal of every person should be to master the abilities of reading, writing and conversation, although it may be a little difficult, but one should continue to strive for perfection.