Try to recall the last time you were surrounded by people who were on a completely different level than you. Did you feel imprisoned, misunderstood? The next time you feel that way, remember these wise words from Charles Cooley.
Unless a capacity for thinking is accompanied by a capacity for action, a superior mind exists in torture.
– Charles Horton Cooley
Cooley was the foremost sociologist of his time (1864 – 1929) and is known for the “looking glass self” concept, which states that your identity grows out of society’s many different perceptions of you. For example, while your mom will see you as an angel, your ex will see you as the devil. The term “Empathic Introspection” is also used to describe this phenomenon.
What we can extract from here is that smart people are often condemned souls in a society that’s less than perfect. Such types must go to great lengths to develop the means to act on their vision. Very few do. Make sure you’re one of them!
Cooley was noted for his indignation towards other sociologists’ methodology. He believed that using an empirical, observational approach was the best way to assess human traits, especially in a social context. He heralded case studies and often used his own offspring as subjects for his work.
Update: as Randy points out in the comments, said quote is also attributed to Benedetto Croce (25 February 1866 – 20 November 1952), an Italian idealist philosopher, historian and politician who had tremendous influence on fellow Italian intellectuals, including marxist Antonio Gramsci and fascist Giovanni Gentile. Our article will mention both Cooley and Croce until more conclusive evidence is obtained regarding who is responsible for the quote in question.