The Human Mind: What Are Its Limits?

This Seneca quote provides a humbling and exciting answer

human mind and brain
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

“The more the mind takes in the more it expands.” Seneca the Younger, in Letters from a Stoic

Everyone knows that the more you learn about a subject, the more you find how much more there is to it.

This is true for any subject, from literature to gardening, from fashion to astrophysics. The more you study it, the more you realize how very little you know.

And that’s not all. The subject also tends to get more exciting and to lead to multiple new ideas and interests.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes as a parent, but one of the good calls I can point to has to do with my awareness that deeper knowledge of any subject renders it more interesting.

The summer my second son was to transition from elementary to middle school, I “convinced” him to take a summer math class that could qualify him for the advanced class come fall.

This made a big difference for him academically and personally. Because of the way the system works (which is unfortunate), getting ahead in math gave Andres access to more advanced (and often more interesting) classes later on in high school. More importantly perhaps, he also liked math more.

My son has actually thanked me for “convincing” him to go to summer school that year. At one point, by the way, he also took me to task for letting him drop baseball in high school. That’s how it goes with parenting.

The expansion of the mind also involves being open to different ideas. The more open-minded you become, the quicker you accept when you’re wrong, which helps you course correct in life. And we are all wrong about so many things!

It’s humbling to ponder that each human mind is, potentially, like a whole universe. It has no set boundaries and can just keep expanding.

Day 21 of 30-day writing challenge on a single topic: Quotes from Seneca the Younger’s Letters from a Stoic.

Why this topic? Because I can’t get over how timely and brilliant Seneca’s words are -2,000 years after he wrote them.

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