Friday, March 19, 2010

It Mostly Depends On
Your Preconceptions

'The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.'
--Leo Tolstoy, as quoted in the opening of Michael Lewis's new book on the near-meltdown of financial markets. You can review an earlier Tolstoy mention here and a prior mention of Lewis here.

11 Comments:

At 8:55 PM, Blogger Kass said...

How do we avoid preconceptions? It's the stuff of language and memory. I only hope I can stay open and flexible.

 
At 6:38 AM, Blogger Gabriela Abalo said...

so true, there is nothing you can do to change someone who is convinced he/she knows better.

"People who look through keyholes are apt to get the idea that most things are keyhole shaped."

loveNlight
Gabi

 
At 11:04 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Thanks, ladies.

 
At 9:46 PM, Anonymous Mike Q said...

"The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man" -- so that's why he wrote War and Peace.

 
At 6:36 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Touche.

 
At 4:37 PM, Blogger Britta Waller said...

I saw Lewis on The Daily Show. A brilliant financial journalist! I find the quote quite apt, however, in the context of all the health care discussion last night and today on tv and Facebook.

 
At 11:01 PM, Blogger Art Durkee said...

"If you're a hammer, the whole world tends to look like a nail."

This is really about mindset: those habitual patterns of thought, ways of thinking, that prevent us from seeing what is actually there. Instead we only see what we presume is there. We see the world through filters, and that keeps us from seeing the available truth—and also from seeing solutions to problems.

The whole purpose of meditation training, in Zen as elsewhere, is to remove those filters and preconceptions, so that one CAN see what's actually there. Tolstoy was right.

 
At 6:56 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Thanks, Britta and Art.

 
At 12:10 AM, Blogger standing on my head said...

just so you know, i'm utterly stealing this quote. when we start thinking we know everything about something, our life shuts down.

 
At 7:19 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Steal away to your heart's content.

 
At 10:52 AM, Anonymous World Directory Submissions said...

Nice article. Unique thinking. Thanks.

 

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