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Opinion philosophy

The Mind is an Excellent Servant, but a Terrible Master (Reversal)

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The David Foster Wallace graduation speech comes to mind when I read this quote. The message is that your mind represents your automatic, default setting, your mind does whatever it is biologically wired to do, and part of this wiring requires to be hopelessly and eternally selfish and self-centered. But there is a remedy, and it comes in the form of a liberal arts education – because it teaches you how to think.

A proper education will give you the capacity to think and will teach you decide what you want to think about. it can make you less selfish, and less self-centered. If you can choose to, throughout your boring daily routines, to avoid taking out your anger on people who get in your way, because you understand that they may be having a more difficult time than you, then you escape your default setting, and become more attuned to people around you, and less dissatisfied because your petty needs aren’t instantaneously being catered to the second they arise.

But look at the reverse, “The mind is an excellent master, but a terrible servant.”

Not surprising if it too makes sense, since the mind is both servant and master and is both terrible and excellent.

I like the reverse more. The mind is a brilliant master most of the time. I have rarely met people who are incapable of saying what they should do. I meet a lot more people who are incapable of doing them.

The mind is a terrible servant, because it is rebellious and complicated, because it is emotional and fickle. But in inevitable moments of calm, the mind is clear and logical.

If the mind was a great servant, you would never complain about your lack of willpower, you would rarely have regrets, and you would never be late for anything.

We think our actions express our decisions. But in nearly all of our life, willing decides nothing. We cannot wake up or fall asleep, remember or forget our dreams, summon or banish our thoughts, by deciding to do so. – John Gray, Straw Dogs

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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