Show where I’m wrong and I’ll change; Dissecting Meditations, a personal journal by Marcus Aurelius Part #12

What you are getting into: 547 words, 3mins read

Here, I will share my contemplations upon reading the published personal journal of Marcus Aurelius, a roman emperor from 161-180 AD. Thoughts mainly stemmed from Stoicism, and Marcus Aurelius used the notes for guidance and self improvement. It’s a translated book by Gregory Hays, or you can read it online.

For this and upcoming posts I attempt to dissect quotes I favour upon reading the book.

If anyone can refute me — show me I’m making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective — I’ll gladly change.

It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance.

Most want to be right. Some want to be right all the time. Some are willing to agree to disagree. Just how many are willing to question their own beliefs and maybe accept their view could be wrong?

Header image attached is an incredibly accurate depiction when two stubborn loggerheads are duking it out. From an outsider’s POV, it’s just a matter of perspective. We know that from a third person. And how many times we get caught in such situations? It is our own folly, myopia, and failure to recognise different views can exist, apart from ours.

It takes tremendous work to convince someone otherwise. So respect people who points out your own faults. It would have taken them consideration thought in delivering the corrective message. Thank them for their hard work, if you can (let go of your crushed ego).

Photo via Pixabay

Paul Graham wrote about this in his sticky yet politically right essay:

Do religion and politics have something in common that explains this similarity? One possible explanation is that they deal with questions that have no definite answers, so there’s no back pressure on people’s opinions. Since no one can be proven wrong, every opinion is equally valid, and sensing this, everyone lets fly with theirs.

I think what religion and politics have in common is that they become part of people’s identity, and people can never have a fruitful argument about something that’s part of their identity. By definition they’re partisan.

Which topics engage people’s identity depends on the people, not the topic.

The most intriguing thing about this theory, if it’s right, is that it explains not merely which kinds of discussions to avoid, but how to have better ideas. If people can’t think clearly about anything that has become part of their identity, then all other things being equal, the best plan is to let as few things into your identity as possible.

Need not be religion or politics. That’s not the point. It’s about disengaging your beliefs from your identity. Is having only few things as our identity the best possible way? Will we have better ideas once we discard the identity we have so carefully created over the years? Or is it that being mindful that ideas we conjure carries identity baggage the key to better thinking?

Circling back to Marcus Aurelius’s original thought, how can we catch ourselves engaging in self-deceit and ignorance? That’s something to reflect upon..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *