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The Free Dictionary Language Forums
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Monday, November 14, 2016 4:38:10 AM
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Although men are accused for not knowing their own weakness, yet perhaps as few know their own strength. It is in men as in...
Sunday, November 6, 2016 5:29:13 AM
Swift's quote is a rich one indeed. It reflects an awareness of at least two major issues in human behaviour namely, self-serving bias and human potential. Self-serving bias is the common tendency in humans to interpret events and behaviour in ways that promote their self-esteem rather than demote it. That's why most people attribute their success to their own ability and efforts and attribute their failure to external factors. It's a sort of (unconscious) defense mechanism that is activated to protect self-esteem. Look at the beginning of Swift's quote again "... men are accused for not knowing their own weakness". It is others who accuse them of this. The people around you see the negative things in you (not in themselves): self-serving bias in action.
Concerning the second point (human potential), there has been for the last couple of decades a renewed interest in the promotion of human potential. People are not machines; they are endowed with a will and they are to a large extent the masters of their own future. So far mainstream psychiatry and clinical psychology have tried to cure patients by targeting their weaknesses. More than a century of medication and therapy have not brought happiness. Psychiatry's dirty little secret, as Seligman put it, is that all its treatments are symptomatic. They don't tackle the causes of the disease, they just alleviate the symptoms. The new trend is often referred to as positive psychology. It represents a shift from a concern with the weakness to a concern with the strength. People are asked to pay more attention to their strengths than to their weaknesses. Nurturing the strengths is believed by positive psychologists to bring about a degree of happiness strong and genuine enough to take care of the negative emotions and hormones that destroy people's lives. Those hidden strengths, shadowed by an obsessive concern with the weaknesses, are what Swift referred to as "a vein of gold" and do need to be explored and nurtured.
To depend upon a profession is a less odious form of slavery than to depend upon a father.
Monday, October 24, 2016 5:38:44 AM
The context that produced the attitude expressed in the quote is very clear. British women's role in society was changing fast as a result of the war. The fact that many more women were able to find paid jobs could be considered as a change in patrons: first the father and now the boss (or the profession). However, looked at from a larger angle, and also from a century later, Woolf's words sound like those of a very angry and, more importantly, hopeless person. Anger is the emotional response to perceptions of injustice; hepolessness is when the perceived injustice seems overwhelming. It is true that society has not been fair to women around the globe. But it is also possible that even within such societies, still equipped with unfair laws and practices, the unpriviledged can CREATE not only a breathing space but a constructive harnessing of the winds of change to their own favour. The unpriviledged need to build resilience. They need to LEARN how to bounce back! Anger, if well exploited, can be a game-changing propelling force. Hopelessness does not rhyme with humanity.
Any one who has gumption knows what it is, and any one who hasn't can never know what it is. So there is no need of defining it.
Sunday, October 23, 2016 7:42:29 AM
Montgomery's quote is probably a reference to "experiential learning" or "learning through experience" at its best. There are types of knowledge that can be acquired only through experience. Philosopher Al-Ghazali (1058-1111) gave the example of the physician's knowledge of diseases. Is a patient's knowledge of the disease the same as that of his doctor? Definitely not. A psychologist can investigate or talk about gumption, resilience, loneliness, or PTSD, but his knowledge of these cannot compare to that of a person sustaining himself nobly against the odds, or a person torn by nightmares, or a person slowly consumed by loneliness.
A man who does not think for himself does not think at all.
Wednesday, May 4, 2016 4:33:13 AM
True! We are not endowed with billions of neurons (85-100) so that someone or something else may do the thiking for us. There's a problem, however. History is travelling down a road that seems to create conditions in which individuals feel less compelled to think for themselves. This had been raised some decades earlier by Henry David Thoreau in his philosophy of "simple living", a philosophy that stresses "self-reliance", including thinking your own thoughts. Some other philosophical perspectives, such as "constructivism" (John Dewey), share this view. They even believe that it's practically impossible to impart meaning, because meaning is constructed rather than received. Even teachers are advised not to instruct. They are asked to create learning conditions in which the students do the learning themseves. The role of the teacher is not to teach (paradox?), but to show material and raise questions that trigger the students' curiosity and unleash their learning powers. Meaning is knit within the web of your own cognitive apparatus. So in this sense, Wilde is right. Thinking involves setting your own peculiar neural networks in motion, otherwise you're not thinking at all. One more thing that we need to pay attention to is that most of our thinking is (probably) an effort to justify our emotional attachments (see The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt). You first "like" like something (the reasons are not clear why you like it) and then you do some thinking to justify the "correctness" of your liking. Cognition and emotion are actually quite intertwined and we should make sure that our thinking is not restricted to the subordinate function of justifying our emotional tendencies.
States, as great engines, move slowly.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016 11:19:05 AM
States, UNlike great engines, have many UNnececssary parts. No good machine, however, should have unnecessary parts. The functions of good machines are crystal clear; those of the State aren't clear at all. They collect money from hardworking tax-payers and then waste and misuse it. States also create their own victims and then punish them. States do work sometimes, but that's the exception, not the rule!
It is no use trying to sum people up. One must follow hints, not exactly what is said, nor yet entirely what is done.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016 7:56:15 AM
The goals of scienitific psychology have been the description, explanation, and prediction of human behaviour. So far, and after more than one hundred years of scientific investigation, psychology has done very poorly, especially on the prediction side. What Virginia Wolf said a century ago is still true. As a novelist, she was certainly aware of what it means to draw a meaninful and convincing picture of a character, minor or major. The "hint" thing in her quote is something personality researchers have tried to do. By trying to look for a small number of traits and/or personality dimensions whose knowledge would shed light on the rest of the person, personality psychologists actually looked for hints, and this has achieved relative success. The dimensions, or "hints", should be easy to detect and should also be intuitively related to other aspects of the person. The strongest and most revealing hints so far known have been emotional stability, inward/outward-looking, and impulsivity. There are more, but these seem to be relatively more revealing and they also seem to have neurological couterparts.
You can never have a revolution in order to establish a democracy. You must have a democracy in order to have a revolution.
Friday, April 22, 2016 7:42:44 AM
I don't think the concepts of democracy and revolution can be ordered sequentially (first ... then). In many respects they are two means of change to choose from and I daresay the two concepts are quite mutually exclusive. Democracy, when possible, has proved to be the most effective and the least costly means of change. In places where there's little or no room for freedom of expression or political participation, I'm afraid, revolution is the one way left. Rvolution is not much of a choice really. I tend to think of it as something that HAPPENS to a people. A cornered mouse does not choose to attack; it looks more like it finds itself attacking. This, of course, if the mouse (probably also a people) hasn't already developed learned helpnessness.
The most practical and important thing about a man is still his view of the universe...We think that for a general about to...
Wednesday, April 20, 2016 4:48:45 AM
It's important to know your enemy's numbers as well as philosophy provided you already know the enemy within. With an enemy within on the loose, your victory over your enemy is unlikely and at best short-lived.
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