Non Satis Scire

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Non Satis Scire, "To Know is Not Enough," is Hampshire College's official memo.

History

Winthrop S. Dakin's Motto Memo, written on May 1, 1968, outlined the thought process behind the choice of this memo:

The December trustees' meeting voted that I elaborate "Sapientia non sufficit," sprouting from the line of a sonnet by Santayana: "It is not wisdom to be only wise."

Pat and I have probed Latinists. "Sapientia" is not the word; it imports a glorious combination of knowledge, wisdom, conduct and attitude, in short something not to be disparaged. "Sufficit" is ponderous.

"Scientia non satis est" tentatively emerged--"Knowledge is not enough." But that would too readily be transliterated into "Science is not satisfactory."

Hoping to avoid such clamminess and also to suggest rather than chisel a thought, I propose "Non satis scire"--"To know is not enough." The "is" (est) is implicit. As the thought itself is "non satis" it nudges the imagination a bit. Its grammar has scholarly approval and its brevity virtue.

This is too negative say some. Try, e.g. "Bonum scire, melius sapere"--"Good to know, better to be wise." That, though positive, is flat and nudges not.

Also, some ask, why not English? Latin being dead its words do not change in meaning, become unstylish, respelled or slang for something unintended. They stay fresh.

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