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Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which... Options
Daemon
Posted: Monday, December 9, 2013 12:00:00 AM
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Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
Bully_rus
Posted: Monday, December 9, 2013 7:22:50 AM
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Private opinion as any security service must know your own place in order to serve good service for the owner.
FounDit
Posted: Monday, December 9, 2013 11:51:10 AM

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As none of us are reared in isolation, a person cannot truly have a private opinion without first having been exposed to the opinions of others. I think it is empirically evident that how we see ourselves is to a very large extent determined by our relationships to others.

Public opinion in the form of peer pressure, celebrity status, fashion designers, politicians, and various groups whose job it is to influence, and the gullibility of the public in seeking approval by following trends, belie the idea that these opinions are weak. And while what we think of ourselves may, indeed, determine our fate, it cannot be said to have happened in isolation from the opinions of others.

I think Thoreau should have given this idea a little more thought.
Christine
Posted: Monday, December 9, 2013 12:48:19 PM
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Good esteem is importance.
maillady
Posted: Monday, December 9, 2013 5:22:31 PM

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Thoreau certainly thought highly of himself.
Verbatim
Posted: Monday, December 9, 2013 7:10:37 PM
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Daemon wrote:
Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)


"Walden" Chapter 1-Economy, Part A. Thoreau wasted no time to introduce his subject. He was of course, a great individualist, and the excerpt
gives credit to the individual. But he was not a prophet in his own town of Concord, Massachusetts. The context below may show the extent of his vision
even as we can see the limits of his surroundings and the time frame in which he wrote. He may not have had much anticipation for the society of the 21st century
but the individual he spoke of in Walden is still the same "slave-driver of himself" today, perhaps worse.

""[8] I sometimes wonder that we can be so frivolous, I may almost say, as to attend to the gross but somewhat foreign form of servitude called Negro Slavery, there are so many keen and subtle masters that enslave both North and South. It is hard to have a Southern overseer; it is worse to have a Northern one; but worst of all when you are the slave-driver of yourself. Talk of a divinity in man! Look at the teamster on the highway, wending to market by day or night; does any divinity stir within him? His highest duty to fodder and water his horses! What is his destiny to him compared with the shipping interests? Does not he drive for Squire Make-a-stir? How godlike, how immortal, is he? See how he cowers and sneaks, how vaguely all the day he fears, not being immortal nor divine, but the slave and prisoner of his own opinion of himself, a fame won by his own deeds. Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate. Self-emancipation even in the West Indian provinces of the fancy and imagination — what Wilberforce (17) is there to bring that about? Think, also, of the ladies of the land weaving toilet cushions (18) against the last day, not to betray too green an interest in their fates! As if you could kill time without injuring eternity."" Note 17: William Wilberforce (1759-1833) English anti-slavery leader.
MTC
Posted: Monday, December 9, 2013 7:48:22 PM
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Joined: 1/18/2011
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Thoreau fortold the distinction between social types David Reisman would later formalize in his famous 1950 book The Lonely Crowd: men are either "inner-directed" or "other-directed." TFD defines these terms as follows:

inner-directed
adj
(Philosophy) guided by one's own conscience and values rather than external pressures to conform. Compare other-directed.


other-directed
adj
(Sociology) guided by values derived from external influences Compare inner-directed

If we could resurrect Thoreau, after overcoming the initial shock he would express disappointment at the direction American society has taken away from his ideal of Individualism or "inner-direction," toward Conformity or "other-direction." The 1960's saw a generational revolt against this trend. The 1967 movie The Graduate plays out this distinction with Benjamin in the role of the inner-directed man searching for his identity in an other-directed society; i.e., "Plastics." (www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSxihhBzCjk)

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