Find a middle ground between two extremes

Black-and-white positions often betray an extreme position.

I read a few dozen philosophy posts on WordPress each day, and come across many who only include a quote or inspirational image as their blog like this one:

“Who you are is what makes you special.  Do not change for anyone.”

The internet is swamped with inspirational quotes and images, so anyone can take them and publish to their blog.  I wonder though if the blogger thought about what the quote meant to them, if they understood what they published.  There are talking parrots, but though they say the words they seem to have no understanding of what they are saying; could this be the same for the bloggers who fill their blogs with quotes? Are they parrot-bloggers?

It is a shame really that such bloggers don’t go the extra mile, and give their take on what they quote.

I am going to give my take on the above quote.

I have found in the study of philosophy nothing is black and white, and there can be many answers to a question.  Subjected to the Socratic Method a realisation dawns on the “target” of why Socrates was called the gadfly and killed.  Philosophers can be irritating people.

We are not an island

The above quote is okay for the recluse living on a desert isle, but in a world shared with other people, that is kind of hard.  Try being stubborn and unchanging with a customer, and lose the business; or in a personal relationship and watch them terminate it; or with the employer and lose the job.

Panta Rei

Heraclitus observed that the universe is always in motion and changing; this desire to resist change works against the nature of the universe.

Observation of nature

Organisms unable to change and adapt to their environment go extinct.  A tree unbending in the wind breaks.

Golden Mean

Aristotle says the best way forward is the middle way between two extremes.  The above quote seems to be one extreme.  The other extreme is to totally sacrifice self for others.  Perhaps it is better to find a middle ground between the demands of others and self-hood?

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8 responses to “Find a middle ground between two extremes

  1. Apart from the fact that people often do not grasp (or express their understanding of) the meaning of such quotes, they also do not give credit to the person who originally said it. And this applies not only to quotes, but also withholding credit when discussing concepts or ideas which were originally formulated by someone else.

    • I think they call that “plagiarism”. With regards to ideas, this is a grey area, since ideas are a thing shared in common between many people. Much of what we consider philosophy, religion are all similar, just given different names and ways of describing. I find much of the work of later philosophers are really reflections of that of earlier philosophers. Take the idea of the archetype Apollo, who is Greek, but there is a Celtic equivalent called Belenus; should the Celt give credit to the Greek for their idea of Belenus, or the Greek give the Celt the credit for Apollo? The Muslim, Christian and Jew all share a common idea of a single god, which should give who credit for that idea?

      • You think correct.

        You are right with regards to your reference to topics such as ancient philosophy and religion. Yet, where one knowingly quotes another, you should acknowledge him/her. Perhaps an ‘ego’ thing?

      • I agree, if it is clearly going to head into the realm of “plagiarism” then the source should be acknowledged. It could be an “ego” thing.

  2. Very true, and interesting. I must say that the majority of the info im sharing at present is quotes repeated in parrot fashion.

    I will take on board what you say and attempt to attach my understand to the end of my posts.

    Although sometimes I feel an explanation can be unhelpful to the reader. We all have different levels of understanding depending on our efforts, how much we have tried to understand philosophy for instance..

    We are all very different people, and this is what makes life so fantastic.

    • Hi fragmentsoffragments, I note some bloggers post quotes and images, and let the reader draw their own conclusions from them, but they have a strategy behind that. From the readers point of view it is hard to tell the difference from a “parrot-blogger” and someone who has an “understanding” of what they are posting. Someone who can “show” the reader an understanding of the quote gives their blog greater gravity than those that don’t.

  3. Would you say that one can change oneself for completely self-interested reasons, then?

    • We have choice to change, and we have the capacity to change ourselves if we want. There are two forces that are causing change: our own nature, and strife (external influences). The blog considers a middle way should be trod between expressing our own need to change and adapting to external influences.

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