Reflections on Aphorisms #100

Short aphorisms today because I’m hoping to get to bed a little earlier than I did yesterday.

This is day 100 of the aphorism reflections, and I’m still as in love with it as I have been. I’ve been focused on Rochefoucauld quite heavily recently, but when I manage to get my output up a little I’ll add more variety in.

Aphorism 140

It is far easier to be wise for others than to be so for oneself. (Maxim 132)

François de La Rochefoucauld

Interpretation

One of the great mysteries about our power of perception is that we are able to see things outside our own life more clearly than those that are in our own life.

I think that a large part of this is because we’re storytelling creatures, and it’s easier for us to see the patterns in other peoples’ lives because we only see the important information. It’s easy to over-fit our interpretations to the information that we have, coming to a conclusion and then looking for evidence to support it instead of finding evidence and then drawing conclusions objectively.

I think another thing that Rochefoucauld gets at here is the fact that it’s a lot easier to be objective when your emotions aren’t flaring up. I think that emotions have a very strong role in the decision making process, but the problem comes with passions.

It’s easy to be dispassionate with another person’s life decisions.

For this reason you may make better decisions for someone else than you would for yourself.

Of course, there’s another dilemma here: other people will also make the best decisions for themselves if they are able to see for themselves. They can’t make the best decisions if they just listen to other people.

One of the best things you can do for other people is to pool your resources with theirs; to humbly present your perspective that you have acquired through your own serious contemplation.

You can’t make decisions for other people, that’s not going to work. Coercion and force always ends in tragedy; think of all the people who grow up to do what their parents wanted them to do, yet never considered the proper path for their own life.

But the important thing is that an extra set of eyes works to extend the potentials of a single individual. Two people together are stronger than one, so long as they are connected by shared purpose and not by a desire for one to dominate the other.

Resolution

Help others earnestly and without conceit.

Look to advice from those who want the best for me.

Seek always to be what others need within the framework of myself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.