There Are People Who Are Like Buridan’s Donkey

You must probably be thinking, right now, but what is that Buridan donkey? For several centuries, we have used animal caricatures to transform our companions into the protagonists of stories. Children’s stories are replete with this practice, personifying cicadas, ants, pigs and, of course, donkeys.

Well. Buridan’s donkey is the protagonist of a medieval paradox which claimed, through reasoning by the absurd, to attack reason as the maximum and unique source of knowledge. Concretely, this story was born to criticize the rational demonstration of the existence of God made by Jean Buridan, although it can also serve to attack the rest of the demonstrations that have been attempted. In this article, we’ll use it in another sense, but first we’ll find out about the history of this historic donkey.

The story of Buridan’s donkey

It wasn’t a donkey that had anything special; the curious thing about his story was the situation he found himself in. We can find different versions. Some say he was the same distance from two piles of hay and others say he was the same distance from a pile of hay and a bucket of water. What the paradox tells is that the very rational donkey, unable to decide on one of the piles of hay, ended up dying of hunger.

It’s absurd, isn’t it? Yes, but as absurd as it sounds, you certainly know someone who is like Buridan’s donkey. You yourself may have been at some point. Normally, the options we consider when making a decision are not equidistant, but they can be similar in the level of attractiveness we find in them.

What happens then? We start to delve into things, to assess the pros and cons and… What happens very often too? Sometimes one of the two options disappears and, in the worst case, both, and we are left with nothing. Know that indecision is the biggest thief of opportunity.

People who look like Buridan’s donkey

As we said at the beginning, this story was born as a criticism with the preponderant use of reason as a means of locomotion to travel the world. In fact, it is the overly rational people who find themselves trapped in paradoxes similar to that of our ass, the worst being that they often end up like him.

Sometimes they escape this end not because they are able to make a decision but because time or other people end up deciding things by eliminating one of the options. In a group, their behavior is characteristic: they will never make a decision between plans which are all attractive, but once the others have chosen, they will struggle in the opposite direction. So, people who are like Buridan’s donkey are inherently immobile and very good “executioners” in the group situations we have described.

People who surround these types of people end up breaking them up to date and trying to present them with as few decisions and options as possible, fearing a blockage or rational paralysis. On the other hand, these are also the people that others turn to to tell them about their problems because they know that they have such a developed analytical training that they will be doing a general and deep analysis of the situation in a very short time. .

Companies also know this because they are looking for a specific profile to make decisions and another profile to get an idea of ​​what happens in a specific situation. The same thing happens with politicians; some are good at making an analysis of reality but are then completely blocked when it comes to making decisions and transforming it.

We find an example of maximum rationality in one of television’s most charismatic characters, Sheldon Cooper. In fact, he compares himself to Buridan’s ass in one of those priceless Big Bang Theory scenes . We won’t tell it to you so as not to spoil you, but you can see it in the seventh episode of the tenth season.

If we leave the small screen we can head to the changing rooms of the clothing stores and we will see all these people who come in with two clothes to try on, only have money to buy one and are so gifted that they are able to despair the person who accompanies them, however patient they may be.

Critics of this paradox argue that human decisions are rarely like our donkey’s, despite all the respect we can show Buridan. They say this because human decisions are not based on an objective difference in value but on a perception of the difference in value. Despite everything, we all know people who, faced with two options, cannot make up their minds.

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