Every man prefers belief to the exercise of judgment. – Seneca
What does that mean?
In short, this quote is saying that humans are basically lazy. That is simply the baseline for the human condition. Some are more so than others, and we all have our favorite topics on which we think. But the truth is we tend to lean more on our beliefs than on our thinking.
To properly exercise one’s judgement, we have to get facts, review our prior positions, and integrate the new data with what we know. We have to take the time to deal with things that are different or don’t fit, and determine if the data is flawed, or if our position is wrong, and make adjustments.
Whew! That was tiring to write about. But if you believe, you simply state what you believe, regardless of what the facts say. There is a lot of that on both sides of many modern arguments. Neither side is swayed by facts, as they have already made up their mind, and have turned that decision into a belief.
Why is thinking important?
It took a moment to come up with an answer that wasn’t completely snarky. But in the context of the quote, the exercise of judgement, requiring thinking, is what we are talking about. After all, we do have choices.
We can just go with the flow, and let others decide for us. We can let our preconceived notions determine what we will do. We can just go with our hunches or with our beliefs. We can let our emotions guide us. There are always different ways to make our choices.
Thinking is often the hardest way to do things. But that is true only if you don’t know yourself or don’t know the facts. As you get older, some of these become easier, better understood, and thinking can become a very straightforward way to go.
However, we need to be careful. What some people call thinking is little more than stating their beliefs or their preconceived notions. If we aren’t careful, that can happen to us. We need to engage our brains and analyze the facts, and adjust our theory or contest the facts, as appropriate.
Where can I apply this in my life?
This is not an attack on faith-based positions (religion), as most ‘facts’ which claim to refute religion are largely unrelated. Usually, these ‘facts’ are used in faith by the anti-religious to attack the faith of those who are religious. That’s a pretty weak argument.
While I can cut the anti-religious crowd a little slack (for they are trying to disprove a positive), the use of their faith of non-existence to try to disprove existence isn’t a great way to prove their point. It’s kind of like bullying someone into agreeing that bullying is bad.
That is the down side to relying on knee-jerk reactions, emotions, or beliefs instead of thinking, relying on facts, and exercising our judgement. And the key word there is exercise. If we don’t give our minds exercise, like our bodies, it can become flabby.
This doesn’t mean you will necessarily gather fat deposits in your skull, although I wonder about some people. The concern is that your mind will become lazy. Lazy people, or minds, will often lack the strength to do things the proper way, and will take the easiest way possible.
If exercising our judgement is deemed a bother or a great effort, we will likely not do it. What will we do instead? Something easier. Something quick and mindless. Something we’ve already done, and can throw out there with a minimum of effort. Beliefs, slogans, talking points.
The problem is that an active mind will not find those responses useful in any manner whatsoever. They will likely push back and ask for reasons why they should accept what you said. “And that’s how the fight started…” Well, perhaps not a fight, but it’s not going to be pretty, right?
I imagine you’ve tried to talk logically to someone who is not good at thinking. You ask them to explain themselves, and they can’t. They might deflect, they might obfuscate, they might change the subject. But they rarely will defend their premise with logic.
Whether it’s because their position is indefensible, or because they have never bothered to exercise their judgement (which would involve some thinking and some research), they just can’t. And that’s not a lot of fun, is it? Even if you’re right and they’re wrong, they almost never admit it.
While we might have a quibble with the ‘every’ in the quote, I believe it is safe to say that most do. Perhaps nearly every would be closer. The only down side is that as you exercise more, you may become a little tired of those who do not. Be careful and be kind, you were once like that as well!
My challenge to you is to exercise your judgement. Think about your positions, and why you have them. Pick one a day for a week. Do the research, and challenge you positions and preconceived notions. See if you still agree with yourself at the end of the exercise.
You may never look at life the in the same way again.
From: Twitter, @philo_quotes
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/l/luciusanna127602.html
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