I seek in the reading of my books only to please myself by an irreproachable diversion; or if I study it is for no other science than that which treats of the knowledge of myself, and instructs me how to die and live well.
I have not seen anywhere in the world a more obvious malformed person and miracle than myself. Through use and time we become conditioned to anything strange; but the more I become familiar with and know myself, the more my deformity amazes me and the less I understand myself.
Neither good nor ill is done to us by Fortune: she merely offers us the matter and the seeds: our soul, more powerful than she is, can mould it or sow them as she pleases, being the only cause and mistress of our happy state or our unhappiness.
I once took pleasure some place in seeing men, through piety, take a vow of ignorance, as of chastity, poverty, penitence. It is also castrating our disorderly appetites, to blunt that cupidity that pricks us on to the study of books, and to deprive the soul of that voluptuous complacency which tickles us with the notion of being learned.
In truth, knowledge is a great and very useful quality; those who despise it give evidence enough of their stupidity. Yet I do not set its value at that extreme measure that some attribute to it, such as the philosopher Herillus, who find in it the sovereign good and think it has the power to make us wise and happy.