Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Hard Road

I think, therefore I am.

It seems so straightforward. Most people don’t even think twice about it: of course we think; of course we are. But do we really? Are we really? Or have we come to mistake action for thought?
How many people stop to question their every day actions, the little things they do every day? How may stop to ask themselves: why am I doing this? Do I want to be doing this? Is there something else I would rather be doing? What purpose does this serve?

This failure to question, to grapple with the everyday quandaries and dilemmas applies to both the large and existential decisions we face – our careers, our academic choices, and the more mundane things we take for granted.

Is it any surprise with how busy we are, and with the proliferation of a sort of herd behaviour and groupthink. It is incredibly seductively easy to act mechanically, without really thinking too much. After all, the path seems clear. We know what we have to do. The die has been cast; all we have to do is act. We’re too busy; we have no time, nay, it is not necessary to even think. Why think when the actions have been pre-ordained. We see what everyone is doing, and so we know what we have to do: of course we have to work those number of hours; of course we can’t do those creative things we want to do. Just do it. Why think of it.

It’s all so incredibly seductively easy. To focus on the what instead of the why. It’s hypnotic really. Action makes future action so much easier. Follow the signposts. They’re all laid out for you. You only have to follow. And so we “do”, without stopping to “think”, and in this, do we then stop “being”?

Part of the beauty of humanity is that we can reason. We can question our actions. We are above base beasts. We can act on more than pure instinct if only we choose to. But in these busy times, have we begun to lose that inclination or ability to question ourselves? Have we become too focused on action to the detriment of introspection? Within introspection lies truth. We cannot follow blindly where others lead. The truth is, so few know the answers, fewer still even think to ask the questions. As André Gide said: “Trust those who seek the truth but doubt those who say they have found it.”

We cannot just blindly act. It’s easy to follow the herd, to do what others are doing, or worse, to do what others expect of you without thinking. It is a difficult thing to be a thinking man in an unthinking world, but we must do it. We must stand our ground. Resist. Think, and so, become.
Thinking Man?


  1. A great read (and I do love this picture - are we stuck looking at ourselves through the looking glass of our prescribed actions? If we make the choice to be a certain type of person, do we just reflect and mimic the characteristics and motions established in that archetype?).

    I like your use of 'groupthink', which goes to the root of the issue. Our innovation has made life easier and increased our productivity, which in turn has reduced our moments of introspection. We have access to so much information (more than could ever digest in one lifetime) and opportunity to do so much that I think we forget to think about what we want to learn, what we want to do, and why we follow these paths. We should not assume that all philosophy of the self has been written - we have to write it ourselves for us as well.

    Hahah - as you can see, your post has me thinking! As always, looking forward to more. :)

    1. Ahh, you're too kind. It's all mutual. I could not have written it without our conversation. The groupthink element came out of some deeper thought pulling at the threads you unearthed. Maybe it's not so much a lack of thought, as a preponderance of group think (the worst kind of thought).

      Will think further, and in the meantime, please write something that gives me even more food for thought.