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What's in your brain?

Updated on August 19, 2012

Wilhelm Dilthey, Historian

While German Philosophers may be good at making simple ideas complex, they sometimes come up with something you can grasp.
While German Philosophers may be good at making simple ideas complex, they sometimes come up with something you can grasp. | Source

At some point in our lives, some of us have to go our own way. While you may say, "Well Doug, don't we all," the reality is that most folks go from cradle to grave doing what everyone else thinks they should do.

While I hope that most people would like to break out of the ring of sameness, it's rather hard to do so. And getting harder every day.

Wilhelm Dilthey and You!

I think one of the major ironies of mass media is that something made in vast quantities can be a key to individuality. It isn't the individual song or item, it's the net interaction in your brain.

Years ago, when I was in grad school, I was assigned a book by Wilhelm Dilthey. I remember the going was tough, but one thing I took away from the book was a simple idea:

We all see things differently. We only agree on things because someone has pointed at an item and said "blue" or "tree" or "human." How we actually perceive these things is known only to us. We cannot share these visions except by explaining them to others and their interpretation of the event may have little to do with our conception.

Herd enough?

Breaking from the herd can be tough. Our entire society seems to want to make everyone the same. We learn the same things at the same time in school. Our entertaiments, even if enjoyed by one's self, are similarly enjoyed by the masses.

I don't advocate leaving children running wild on the streets, but I do question if the history of the western world would have been far different if more people had been able to say, "no, that's not what I want to do" or "that's not right, I won't participate."

Soccer Nazis?

I don't say that putting your kids in a soccer program is the same as enrolling them in the Hitler Youth, but at some point you have to listen to what they want to do. You have to allow kids to do some of what they want, when they want, if you things to be different in the next generation.

We have to have ground rules: what's yours is yours and what's theirs is theirs. Don't do anything that harms others. Don't eat the yellow snow. But learning how to behave in your own way is also necessary.

Let's move forward!

How much further along could we be if our training wasn't such as to crush our own inclinations to do something different. I've been lucky to have the freedom to do what I've wanted to do read what I've wanted to read, listen to what I wanted to read, and BE who I want to be most of my life. I may not be what you'd want your kids to be, but rather than your children being the best at doing what someone else wants them to do, wouldn't it be better for them to be the best at being them?


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      Kieran Gracie 5 years ago

      I think part of the 'herd' problem is that we are wired to reject new ideas. How many times have you suggested an idea, only to have the recipient say something like: 'Oh, I don't think that would work!'? We even talk about 'the chain of command' - you'd better not step out of line if you want a job tomorrow morning.

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      JaneA 5 years ago from California

      Interesting. I also wonder about the whole "herd mentality" thing. I suspect we are hardwired into it, as a kind of evolutionary adaptation. Still and all, just knowing it's at play within us gives us a chance to escape it.