I remember reading something about Taoism and how Eastern Philosophers were different to Western Philosophers in that the main apparent difference between the two was their attitude towards their students – namely – Western ones exhorted their students to follow their examples. Eastern Philosophers, on the other hand, often told their students “don’t follow me”. *
I believe the point of the second was that in the end, no student truly was the teacher. Following exact methods would therefore not produce the same results. Instead, students were encouraged to own their newfound knowledge and make it their own. What do I mean by that?
I mean that at some point the student has to take off the training wheels and become an autodidact. At some point, they have to come up with their own ideas. Using someone else’s can only take you so far. Let this not be an attack against using someone else’s ideas, however. Newton himself, the father of modern calculus (along with another, less well known fellow), once said:
If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.
If you take the metaphor of a house, I encourage you to build upon a foundation that those who came before you have laid down. In time, your work, combined with your predecessors, will be a new foundation, upon which the next generation will build.
Don’t follow me.
* I could have remembered wrongly. I remain the right to be completely full of shit at any time. You have the right to remind me.