Thursday, May 19, 2011


Take anything to an extreme and it becomes a problem. Care too much and you may weaken the recipient of your kindness. Analyze too much and you may become indecisive.
So here's a question: At which point does detachment become unhealthy?

Let's set aside any examples of hermits and consider a normal person who, although voting and participating in civic affairs , seeks to maintain some independent perspective amid the hubbub of life and the sea of information. When does that quest cross a line and become counter-productive?

No answers here. Just wondering.


Dan Richwine said...

I think it was Aristotle who said that errors always come in pairs. While swerving to avoid the one, we must take care to remember the other, just as when a car cuts us off on our right we must be mindful of the guardrail on our left.

For perspective, we must always keep mindful of the fact that a life lived in the abstract tends to lose its moorings and drift into incoherence. All insights must be compared to reality on a regular basis, or small errors in judgment cannot be determined, and they compound to become large ones.

Interesting and good topic for reflection, as long as one does not reflect too long :)

Michael Wade said...


Thanks. I thought about that but not too long.


dan said...

i found this post by a google keyword search, because i was thinking along similar lines, about a life lived in the abstract. I think that it may be true that as a life strategy it may not work, but I think it is incorrect to too frequently compare what you are doing to reality, as most of what happens is not all that relevant, and actually quite random. People forget that a winning strategy actually will statistically have its share of failures, but dominate in the long run.

I think that what you are doing is incredibly prevalent, which is taking for granted a lot of common sense wisdom, without actually questioning how profound it actually is to make a claim like "do not live abstractly for a long time" and when and if that might be true. Aristotle is really good to read, he thought about a lot of things, but was not very good at formalizing his ideas because he was living in the premodern era, where we take for granted that really simple statements entered in a computer can have really drastic outcomes, but he at least realized just how complicated it was to find the truth (as evidenced by how convoluted some of his phrasing is).

how long do you think that one should live in the abstract?

Unknown said...

Health Care

Michael Wade said...

That could be one.