It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable. – Seneca
What does that mean?
This is an interesting quote, as anyone who as argued with someone may well have found out the hard way. Sometimes, their mind is just unconquerable.
However true that may be, I believe the quote is more of a reference to the ability of the mind to find facts and for it to remain true to logic, despite pressure to do otherwise.
In my mind, the finest example of this is when Galileo, where after being forced to recant his heliocentric solar system, quoted as saying “And yet it moves,” referring to the Earth.
His mind was unconquerable, even though his life and freedom had been placed in jeopardy. He examined the facts, and went where they took him, even if he was threatened.
Why is freedom of the mind important?
Isn’t that a great thought? The thought that you are free to think anything you want? I’m not sure how serious they are, but there is a group of people who still promote the idea that Earth is a flat saucer shaped surface, instead of a spheroid.
We are also free to think what we will about them, as this “freedom of the mind” well, it goes both ways. And, of course, we expect that everyone involved will actually use their mind, actually use the power it possesses, in forming their beliefs and opinions.
But the term ‘unconquerable mind’ only applies if you are willing to defend your thoughts. If you give up, your mind is easily conquered. Whether that is the war over language (Political Correctness) or an unwillingness to take a stand and defend, you have given up before you start, your mind has already been conquered, and with it, so have you.
With a strong mind, and equally strong research, you have the data required to hold your own against people who only have opinions and guesses and preferences on their side. And when you do encounter someone else with a strong mind, you can have an illuminating debate. You won’t be conquered, you will be persuades, or perhaps they will.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Personally, I try to use this all the time, in every aspect of my life. That may be largely because I’m a geek and a control freak. I don’t give in easily, and if I do, it is for a specific reason. Some people can only learn from experience, so you inform them, and then let them learn in what manner best suits them.
I don’t mind being proven wrong, in fact I enjoy it. It means I have found someone else with a sharp mind, strong research skills, and all the data necessary. After all, I’m only human, and subject to personal bias and preference, just like everyone else. But the data doesn’t lie. The people who present facts, on the other hand… 8)
Take a moment and consider where in your life you stand your ground, and where you do not. It is one thing to yield to power or authority, just remember what Galileo was said to have muttered on the way out – “And yet it moves.” You can yield when appropriate or necessary, just keep your mind strong.
Think about the times you tend to stand your ground and remain unconquered. Is that because you are stubborn, or because the facts are? One is not so good, the other is most excellent, at least in my opinion. I believe that knowing yourself is a rather important thing. Knowing when you’re being stubborn is useful.
Now consider when you give ground. Not just every once in a while, but where you give in and are conquered on a regular basis. Are you boxing outside your weight, or taking on someone better informed than you? Are you unwilling to do the research and gather the data, or are you just easily conquered?
Take some time and consider where and when it might be appropriate to defer to those in authority or power, but also consider if you can step back without being conquered. That was the example of Galileo, and I believe it can be applied equally well today.
Hopefully this quote has given you the inspiration to better defend your position. Do so with a strong and vigorous mind, well researched facts, and a body of data that is beyond reproach. It won’t guarantee victory, because some are just stubborn, but it gives you the ammunition to defend yourself.
From: Twitter, @stoicrevival
confirmed at : http://www.goodreads.com/…seneca-essays-and-letters first entry
Photo by Johann Dréo
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