Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“They (the emperors) frequently abused their power arbitrarily to deprive their subjects of property or of life: their tyranny was extremely onerous to the few, but it did not reach the greater number; .. But it would seem that if despotism were to be established amongst the democratic nations of our days it might assume a different character; it would be more extensive and more mild, it would degrade men without tormenting them.”     Alexis de Tocqueville

June 6, 2011

Eternal Sunshine Of The Lazy Mind

by Brad Warbiany

Seen over at Megan McArdle’s place today (original source unlinked):

Dear Dr. Boli: How can I progress from ordinary sleep into slumbering dogmatically? –Sincerely, “cs.”

Dear Sir or Madam: Dogmatic slumber, that easy and comfortable state of resting on one’s unexamined assump­tions, has been shown in multiple studies to be greatly desirable for promoting health of mind and body. Fortunately most people have little trouble achieving this state, and indeed many are seldom roused from it. If, however, you are one of those miserable unfortunates who suffer from dogmatic insomnia, or a perpetual restless examination of what most people take for granted, only a change in habits is likely to bring relief.

The works of David Hume are frequently blamed in cases of dogmatic insomnia, but unjustly so. The problem is not in the works themselves, but in our employment of them. In particular Hume’s Essay Concerning Human Under­standing, a weighty tome in every sense, is often misused. The mistake most sufferers have made is to open the book and read it, exposing themselves to the disturbing ideas in the text. If, however, when you retire for the evening, you instruct one of the servants to smack you forcefully on the head with the book, you will be virtually assured of a good eight hours of dogmatic slumber.

I’m not sure whether “ignorance is bliss”, but I’ll be damned if I haven’t seen a correlation.


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