Friday, April 16, 2010

The metaphor of a boy and an elephant

Quotation from
By David Brooks
Published on October 8, 2009
on Five Books

David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times who writes about politics and American culture, talks about The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt.

The metaphor for our mind of a boy and an elephant is exquisite.

Haidt uses the metaphor of a boy and an elephant. He says our minds are structured like a boy riding an elephant, and the boy is the conscious reasoning part, the cortex-based brain. And it can see very far, and make certain steering decisions. But most of the work is done by the elephant, which is the unconscious part of the brain. His work is to try to explain what the elephant is doing.

I agree, although I sometimes feel like an extremely nearsighted boy on an elephant.


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