Arcadian Functor

occasional meanderings in physics' brave new world

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Marni D. Sheppeard

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sir Edmund Hillary

We will all remember this great man, who said:
It is not the mountains that we conquer but ourselves


Blogger nige said...

"It is not the mountains that we conquer but ourselves"

This commment refers to self-discipline, I guess? Most human failures are down to a lack of self-discipline. The roots of a lack of self-discipline are probably repetitive failure and a lack of belief in the possibility of achieving something. If you keep trying and failing at something, you can either end up more determined than ever (especially if you believe that you came very close to success, and the failures were due to factors that probably won't be a problem next time), or you can end by giving up.

In the case of gambling, where no real work or effort is required, the more they lose, the more determined people become to win. So they gamble everything.

In the case of mountain climbing, from my very limited experience, failure (especially repetitive failure) makes me want to give up. The whole thing is pretty futile. What's the point? I don't exactly know what motivated Sir Edmund Hillary, presumably it was to get to the top before anybody else. There is quite a difference between doing that and being a laggard who tries to copy something already done by many people. If you try something that nobody has ever succeeded at doing, it's not a terrible failure if you don't succeed. It's a lot worse for your self-confidence when you try doing something that many people have succeeded at before, and you fail. Therefore, if you lack self-confidence, it makes sense to try things which are extremely difficult so you have ready-made excuses if you fail, rather than risk being depressed by failing at something others have already done (which there is no point in attempting anyhow).

January 19, 2008 12:57 AM  

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