Saturday, March 13, 2010

On Earth There Is Nothing Great But Mind

I just read something I've heard before, written by William Hamilton: 
On earth there is nothing great but man; in man there is nothing great but mind.
On earth there is nothing greater than man when man is at his greatest, and that is when he chooses to use his mind. But it is a choice. Our description as "the rational animal" doesn't mean we are infallibly rational. It means we have the capacity to reason unlimitedly. After all, by the rules of logic we know which deductions are fallacies, because they break the rules. But TV commercials use such fallacies to sell their wares and often they are upfront, blatant, about it, sometimes to prove a point, sometimes to make us laugh.

Shysters know the rules of logic and break every one they can get away with, so long as you believe them and don't know they have broken a rule of logic.

But even knowing all the rules we can sometimes make the mistake of missing one of them, or we become unwilling to do what is rational because it would hurt too bad. I think that most mothers who kill their children in post-partum depression know they are doing wrong; but the alternative of doing the rational thing, of giving up their kids, would hurt them unbearably so that they could not live with it.

Well, of course they could live with it if they were given immediate help, put on suicide watch, and coached back into the world of sanity. But moments of insanity are often only moments of refusing to live according to reason because it would cause insanity.

And yet, without mind, there is nothing greater in man than in any animal on earth. The mind helps others in their time of need, during earthquakes and typhoons and hurricanes; through the death of loved ones; with soup kitchens, food banks, and food stamps; and even going to war to save others from tyrants.

There is nothing on Earth that is worth having without mind, because to have known "mind" is to know all that is great in Man.

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