The Right Answer

by Tristan Harris on December 12, 2009

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless yet be determined to make them otherwise.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Live your life this way. Most important decisions in life are almost impossible to resolve. The right answer is usually the impossible simultaneous achievement of two opposing extremes. The intuitive answer to find an average solution in the middle, to be balanced, is a sure way to find mediocrity. More to come on this topic!


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Adam 03.25.10 at 5:28 pm

Sapolsky mentioned something along these lines in his class day lecture in 2009:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrCVu25wQ5s&feature=player_embedded

2 Tristan Harris 04.02.10 at 5:25 pm

Adam, thank you so much for posting Robert Sapolsky’s talk. I took his Human Behavioral Biology class at Stanford, and ironically studied Kierkegaard in an Existentialism class the same year which Sapolsky also references.

For everyone else interested to watch, open Adam’s above YouTube link and jump to around 34:00 if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing. And if you want to know more about Robert Sapolsky, you can highlight his name on the page and click “Search” to learn more with Apture.

For more intellectual fodder, these ideas are similar to Phillip Zimbardo’s recent work on time orientation and delayed gratification.

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