Simone de Beauvoir Tells Studs Terkel How She Became an Intellectual and a Feminist (1960) | Open Culture

Beauvoir’s belief that the writer must be “involved,” or—as she clarifies, “committed”—ethically, philosophically, and politically. What this means for her is “not ignoring the rest of the world.” As she puts it, “there is no possible neutrality… you have to commit yourself… and not to just be picked by people, pretending you are picked by nobody.” She goes on, in a vein reminiscent of Howard Zinn’s remark that one “can’t be neutral on a moving train”:
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The Source of Self-Regard: Toni Morrison on Wisdom in the Age of Information – Brain Pickings

I had read] the historical books… I had read the autobiographies of the slaves themselves and therefore had firsthand information from people who were there. You add that to my own intuition, and you can see the shape of my confidence and the trap that it would lead me into, which would be confusing data with information and knowledge with hunches and so on. I thought I knew a great deal about it. And that arrogance was the first obstacle.

What I needed was imagination to shore up the facts, the data, and not be overwhelmed by them. Imagination that personalized information, made it intimate, but didn’t offer itself as a substitute. If imagination could be depended on for that, then there was the possibility of knowledge. Wisdom, of course, I would leave alone, and rely on the readers to produce that.
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