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Whereas I am incurably convinced that the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.

This citation had the second earliest publication date for a close match; however, the date of the speech was the earliest. The same metaphor was used in 1937; however, the phrasing was condemnatory instead of cautionary. The comical notion that an open mind might lead to a mind with “nothing in it at all” was suggested much earlier in 1886.

Kotschnig worked with refugee organizations early in his career and subsequently joined the United States State Department. Walter Kotschnig told Holyoke College students to keep their minds open—“but not so open that your brains fall out.” He condemned the purpose of students who go to college merely to learn skill and urged his listeners to find the “real aim of education, to acquire a philosophy of life, intellectual honesty, and a constant search for truth.” QI has also located an article published in February 1940 describing a speech delivered by Kotschnig in November 1939.

In 1908 a periodical called “The New Quarterly” published excerpts from “The Note-Books of Samuel Butler”.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

The saying has often been attributed to the notable writer G. A 1909 collection of his writings included the following thematically related critical remark: For my friend said that he opened his intellect as the sun opens the fans of a palm tree, opening for opening’s sake, opening infinitely for ever.

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His notebooks included aphorisms and miscellaneous short passages. The novelist Butler had achieved fame with “Erewhon” which described a utopia with satirical elements.