Posted in Philosophy

Buridan’s Ass

French philosopher Jean Buridan proposed the following thought experiment. Imagine a donkey that is equally hungry and thirsty. It is placed exactly in the middle of a pail of water and a stack of hay. The donkey wants to eat the hay because it is hungry, yet it also wants to go for the pail of water to quench its thirst. However, it is precisely the same distance from the food and the water, meaning it has to sacrifice one for the other. Unable to choose between the hay and water, the donkey ultimately dies from hunger and thirst.

We laugh at the stupidity of the ass, but how often are we placed in such a predicament where we try to chase two things at once and end up with nothing? How often do we miss an amazing opportunity just because we failed to make a decision?

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