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Page 74

DISSOCIATION AND THE ATTENTION
Meaning of Absent-Mindedness

philosophic problem, forgot his errand and his company, and was soon hard at work in his study.
So Archimedes, when the Romans captured Syracuse, was so absorbed in his mathematical researches that he heard nothing of the noise and tumult that accompanied the taking of the city. Suddenly a soldier entered the philosopher's room and ordered him to go into the street. Archimedes, lost in thought, ignored the command, and the soldier in a rage plunged his sword into the philosopher's body.
It is told of the poet Lessing, that one evening upon arriving -'at his "door he absent-mindedly inquired of the servant if her master was at home. Receiving a negative reply, he said he

Page 75

DISSOCIATION AND THE ATTENTION
Meaning of Absent-Mindedness

would call again and walked away, much to the servant's mystification.
Sir William Hamilton tells us that "the mathematician Vieta was sometimes so buried in meditation that for hours he bore more resemblance to a dead person than to a living one, and was then wholly unconscious of everything going on around him. On the day of his marriage, the great Buddaeus forgot everything in his philological speculations, and he was only awakened to the affairs of the external world by a tardy embassy from the marriage parry, who found him absorbed in the composition of his `Commentarii.'"
These classical instances have their counterparts to a greater or less degree

travel books:
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