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On Laziness and Determinism

December 20, 2013

The idea that some set of circumstances – a moment in time – predictably, necessarily, leads to other states is an insidious one. It is an idea that induces laziness and fatalism in us [1]. This is not conducive to the attainment of any ends, let alone meaningful ends. It is also intellectually lazy, the subject of today’s post.

When people say “I’m a lazy person” they begin to define themselves as something. Ordinarily, it’s problematic to define yourself. To say ‘I am a conservative’ or ‘I am Labour supporter’ is to limit yourself. For what happens when you agree with most of the label’s views yet disagree with others? Do you conform to the label? If so, you are compromising your beliefs. To do that is to be a fool who – if they are conscious of their cognitive dissonance – has a perpetual bitter, unpalatable taste on their tongue. Don’t define yourself so! Work through the matters on a case by case basis. Apply your own labels with discretion, where appropriate. Be careful to make sure that when defining yourself you don’t restrict yourself.

And heaven forfend that you restrict yourself to such a disgusting trait as laziness! Noble industry has a beautiful dignity. Indeed, this industry is present in many of the most charming females I know. Now, is that correlation or causation? I digress. Now, the people who say they can’t do something are often simply wrong. Remember, productivity breeds productivity. Telling yourself you can’t do something is anathema to your success.

Now, it’s true that others may seem to have natural talent. That applies, to an extent. Yet I often find that what really matters is that one’s ability in a subject will predispose them to achieve and try. For to try is critical, builds our confidence and counters these nefarious ideas.

Imagine that you have an essay due. You are stuck. You decide to commit to writing one line in a normal spaced word document every 5 minutes. You have a page in 2 hours. That’s not counting the gaps for paragraph breaks. And remember, productivity breeds productivity. It’s not like you have to think for 5 minutes of every line. Sentences and writing flow, as do ideas and patterns. You achieve a rhythm to your work. You may start at 5 minutes for the first line. You may take 4 for the 2nd. By the 10th line you’re rattling it off in under a minute.

If you must, start small. Remember, the child is the father to the man. We shape our lives and exert control over them. How much control do we have? An interesting question. At the very least, we steer the ship upon the waters. We are guardians of our own minds. We choose whether to make a principled stand or wallow in the depths of laziness. So I say, we exercise control over who we become. If we adopt mindsets like “I can’t do that” then yes, we will become people incapable of doing ‘that’.

I bash laziness and fatalism. Perhaps unfairly, for some things may occur due to other people’s autonomous actions and historical forces. So it is true. But this is to miss the overall picture and content ourselves on stagnancy. Let me digress a moment.

I have seen people in my school’s ‘study room’ . Some will half-heartedly study for hours. Let’s call it 2. Their lack of focus, their lackadaisical meandering, doesn’t help them nor others. If you study with verve and intensity you will learn more in 1 hour than they do in 2. Memory retention is part input, part maximising output; productivity. And, you’ll have an hour to truly enjoy the day! For the snippets of conversation in the study room cannot measure up to friends talking to each other heartily.

I have not truly encapsulated the truth of this matter in all it’s complexity I fear. But let us not be defeatist. I can fix that in the future, can’t I?


The next post (a few days before Christmas) will look at determinism in historiography, with potentially a case study of economic determinism by the Marxist historiographers; we shall look at ‘intellectual laziness’ if you will. We shall see that our synthesis is too complex to be distilled into merely one shade. We need multiple viewpoints. It shall be a post worthy of this blog’s name! I shall attempt to be a little less condescending and simplistic as well!

And, because I feel my readers deserve a Christmas present of 2 posts in a week, there’ll be another post by the 24th. 3 posts in 4 days. How magnanimous of me!

[1] – Obviously, whether the world is deterministic is a philosophical question that, though fascinating, is not the subject of today’s post. For those interested


From → Foundations

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