The Strongest Weakness

Weakness Leads to Strength
Would you describe yourself as a strong person? Many of us prefer to identify with our strengths, but it is easy to forget that in order to be strong, at times we must be weak. Strengths and weaknesses can be both mental and physical. Most of us were raised to think that showing weakness is unacceptable. Maybe it is sometimes? The brawniness of our mind is interlaced with stimulation from the world around us which further complicates things. An interdisciplinary look at how scholars, philosophers, psychologists, and writers have studied strength and weakness is somewhat enlightening. Voltaire once said “we are all full of weakness and errors,” so when is weakness acceptable?

Depending on the source and subsequently the discipline, the definition of weakness varies. Wikipedia says that weakness is a medical “symptom” or condition which affects the muscles or body. It can be argued that mental weakness can also physically manifest or settle in our bodies. Have you ever been “weak in the knees” because of strong emotions? That idiom is a perfect example. I became interested in reading the Wikipedia explanation of “true weakness vs. perceived weakness,” but quickly moved on when I realized that this was still focused on medical conditions. I am interested in learning about how weakness assists or afflicts us. This is one reason interdisciplinary studies become so important to me.

The dictionary says weakness is a noun. A thing called weakness is defined as “a defect” and “self-indulgent fondness.” That definition is closer to my views on weakness. But is weakness really a defect? Do we need to be weak sometimes? If weakness causes more harm than good, it needs to be addressed. Still, to some extent, weakness lets us feel and experience good and bad things. They will either make us happy, or break us in the end. The word weak as an adjective in the dictionary says the weak have “little physical strength.” They are “lacking force” or are “morally feeble.” Here we can see the word enveloping the mental and the physical characteristics of the human condition. Ernest Hemingway once said that “the world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”

In 2012, Alfred R. Mele a professor with the Florida State University, Department of Philosophy published Backsliding: Understanding Weakness of Will. Mele is a very interesting man who is looking at the connection between the mind and body in new ways. He believes that “people backslide,” and “freely do things they believe it would be best on the whole not to do.” In his new book, he attempts to explain why this happens using traditional and experimental philosophical methods. It is important to study and then attempt to explain the “weakness of will.” In order to have strength and be strong, we first need the will to do so. Mele believes that exercises of self-control are key to understanding weakness of will.

Professor Mele is also the director of a contemporary project called the Big Questions in Free Will Project. These scholarly studies are intriguing and break down the aged silos of research collaborations. It is possible that free will is indeed the key to understanding strength and weakness. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) says that the philosophical term free will is a “course of action.” According to SEP, philosophers have come to believe that “the concept of free will is very closely connected to the concept of moral responsibility.” The encyclopedia partners the “rational deliberation” of free will with desires and values. It is possible to acquire strength and weakness from both.
Strong and Weak

I like to think that I’m a strong person. I have many strengths, still at times I feel plagued by weakness. Sometimes I do forget that in order to be strong, at times I must be weak. I need weakness just as much as I need strength. Weakness is not a defect. It is a means by which we can improve our mental and physical strength. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “our strength grows out of our weaknesses.” Weakness can drive us to our knees. It can make us feel like we are not in control. It can change us in ways that we may never understand. Emerson was right. When we feel weak, we must remember that one day we will feel strong again.

Explore posts in the same categories: Analysis, Authors, Body and Mind, Books, Edification, Philosophy, Psychology, Quotes, Strength, Studies, Weakness, Worthy Reads, Writers, Writing

3 Comments on “The Strongest Weakness”

  1. SouthernGal Says:

    i hate in job interviews when they ask about your weaknesses. that just pisses me off. I hate facing the weaknesses. Mine weaknesses are: Im the most unorganized person on the planet…not something i want to admit in an interview for a career in social work. lmao!

  2. MarS Says:

    Beautiful post Felish and I love the quote by Ernest Hemingway: “the world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”
    I acknowledge my weaknesses but I don’t let them define me.

  3. rommel Says:

    Definitely! Weakness is not something you mess with as it creeps in and can quickly turn into much stronger force than expected. it’s when you have a sense of insecurity that you have something to overcome or a goal to change or reach. Whilst, people who are comfortable, confident and er .. cocky, thinks they have nothing to worry, nothing to lose. Push the button of weakness, and you’d be amazed at what it is capable of.

    Very nice articulative piece. Shameless plugging for my post – Frailty, thy name is woman. Kind of a sexist piece I wrote but it talks highly about weakness.

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