Thursday, November 8, 2012

First & Third Rate Minds

I have been piqued for months by this little question: How do you tell the difference between a first-rate mind and a third-rate mind.

Here we are, racking our brains day-in and day-out to figure out things, to understand things, and to try find simple and practical solutions to the many problems that we have to deal with in our attempt to live a satisfactory life.

We try to see things from all angles, at various levels of details, or various levels of abstraction. We apply logic, lateral thinking or even inspiration. We try to think out of the box or get into the groove. At the end of it, we may have some semblance of a perspective, a definition of the problem, or a way to think about the problem.

Now, when you want to communicate your ideas, you will talk to people and you will get responses.

When you talk to a first-rate mind, you will get further discussion on your ideas, an elaboration, or even a new perspective. You get enlightenment. You see clearer. You think clearer. You get a clarity for which you are grateful.

But, how do you know when you talk to a third-rate mind? What are the indications? After all, everybody imagines that he or she is brilliant. He or she may even be your boss or a person of authority. This may not be an uncommon situation. Society can be filled with people who do not really care for how they think. Let's say, they are not rigorous. So long as they can get by with a flippant excuse, they are happy. So how would you know. My experience is this: I don't understand what you say, but I disagree.


walla said...

ndsktiIt's a tricky question. One suspects only a second-rate mind can answer it satisfactorily because she's sandwiched strategically between both. Therefore, since the blogger can't, he obviously isn't a second-rater.

Nevertheless, whatever our own rating, let's meander to see if we can get anywhere.

First, each is scalable. Even within a TRM, there are a number of grades. Like dense, denser and densest. Likewise for a FRM, rare, rarer and rarefied. So if we want to ask what distinguishes a FRM from a TRM, we must microscopically analyze both, like lab specimens.

Second, the FRM is never scared of greenfield situations where there's nothing on hand to provide signposts on what to do next. He creates his own rational field to analyze the problem or event.

To do that, he maps decisions and actions by just correlation and common sense earned by experience in other situations or by other observations that he deems adequate to explore and engage new pathways that may present a productive direction.

On the other hand, the TRM just plays by ear. Maybe that's because he's afraid the other organs would reveal too much. Or it is just that he is inclined to be politically correct for bread, butter and caviar reasons.

So that we can come to the third point. The TRM will say, "it's not like that" and then walk away. The FRM will say, "it's not like that" and then take pains to explain why he says so even at risk of being subsequently proven wrong. He is honest about wanting to resolve the issue and doesn't care too much about face, or much of everything else that hooks the id/ego.

Which comes to the fourth point. The TRM starts and ends with 'me'. The FRM starts and ends with 'we'.

The former thinks of himself first and targets reactions that minimizes risk to himself while maximizing opportunity for his own grandeur or aggrandizement, even if to achieve this personal agenda, he has to initially portray concern, bigness and decisiveness cloaked as responsiveness propped by unspoken power.

He is all for boisterous sweeps, therefore for a bureaucracy that he appears to disdain but secretly to nurture. Sometimes opportunity is taken to conduct sweeps of deeds to be dusted under the carpet.

On the other hand, the FRM thinks of others first until he is focused solely and thus fully on the problem which he places within a holistic framework that encompasses others, the surrounding, and an axis of time pointing at a changing myriad. He wants to be precise and thorough. He has no time for form and frippery.

walla said...

[1/2: first sentence:
It's a tricky question ]

Sometimes the TRM will say out loud what he knows others are thinking of him even if their thoughts are universally derogatory of his methods. He bravely exudes such candour on the assumption that others will think it inconceivable a wrong doer would proclaim his own wrong-doing, to wit they will conclude there was no wrong for reasons unspecified to-date.

The FRM will not suffer such sanctimonious sleaze. He disdains the customary hoopla dance of incurvating natives around the totem pole of gangrenous mass emotion by which the TRM draws his power and prolongation.

And so we reach the fifth point. The TRM doesn't have what the FRM has - an intellectually honest charisma that humanizes divergence towards some common good even as he tries to integrate the divergent factors towards the objective of enabling individual excellence. In short, the TRM practices real-life bimodal management. The FRM just shoots from the hip with one silo view after another.

Having whetted my own second-rate appetite, we can now ask whether there is a difference between a second class upper and a first class honours.

We may say in many respects, they share similar attributes except for one marginal difference of decisive import.

The first class honours seems to have a natural ability in the subject matter to such an extent that he can score the highest grades where it matters the most, thus disproving that effort is all that's needed.

However doing well in papers doesn't necessarily lead later to doing well in life. To aptitude must add attitude. To attitude must add altitude.

To make meaningful achievements in life, one needs a meaningful life-force that can be maintained and sustained over and beyond anything that life throws at us. And life likes curved throws.

Taken to the limit, the throw traces the trajectory of a boomerang. We escape not the consequences of our thoughts and deeds. Unless we are alert to all the trappy hooks that inevitably pave our paths.

Lastly, don't you think second-rate minds are pretentiously long-winded?


walla said...



'In short, the FRM practices real-life bimodal management. The TRM just shoots from the hip with one silo view after another.'

walla said...

walla said...

etheorist said...


The Second Rate Mind is probably the most interesting and the most balanced.

The 2RM is intelligent and sensible. The 1RM is brilliant. The 3RM is just not functioning. Our challenge is to reduce the 3RM and increase the 2RM and hopefully add a few more 1RM in our midst.

Then we may be able to get this economy running again.