Thursday, January 22, 2009

RIOT with emphasis on the Relative

There is as much difference between us and ourselves as between us and others. -Michel de Montaigne, essayist (1533-1592)

In an era when few people ventured more than 20 miles from their birthplace, Montaigne strongly promoted the idea of travel as a way to see our foundational beliefs as simply one of many ways to look at the world. In the quote above, he reminds us that even our foundational beliefs may not have absolute invariance over time or in different contexts.

My mother would often answer a question by saying "I'm of two minds about that." I took this to mean that she recognized the difference between her and herself. I have found the phrase a useful reminder that even my strongest opinions don't reliably represent my strongest opinions, if you know what I mean.