Stef (firecat) wrote,

Why I don't understand other people

Further thoughts inspired by Ron Suskind's New York Times Magazine article "Without a Doubt" (discussed in my last post) and by Teresa Nielsen Hayden's excellent discussion of The Culture of Motivation in light of said article.

My problem seems to be that I can see a little bit of truth in everything but I don't tend to think anything has the whole truth. So when confronted by a motivational poster of the type Teresa discusses--
—It is the size of one’s will which determines success.
—Victory goes to the man whose desire is strongest.
—Believe in yourself and anything becomes possible.
—Vision is not seeing things as they are but as they will be.
--I automatically take it as a metaphor (hm, that's not the right term, but I'm not sure what is) that points at something true but I don't take it as a statement of fact or absolute belief. (The bit of truth I see is that motivation can make a difference in achievement. But other factors contribute and often matter more, so the statements aren't literally true.)

And I assume that no one else literally believes such statements either. I assume they aren't intended to be literally true; they're just intended to be tools for focusing oneself.

But that may be the part I'm getting wrong. Maybe a lot of people really do literally believe stuff like that.

Teresa suggests that it's men who come from privileged backgrounds who tend to have this literal belief in the omnipotence of the individual will. But it may be more widespread than that.
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