One of my professors once told me that you learn the fastest when you’re slightly confused. If you’re too confused, you’re likely to give up in frustration. But if you’re not confused at all, you’re either not learning or learning very slowly. Slight confusion is the optimal state where you’re holding unresolved ideas in your head and making connections.

Confusion shows you’re thinking deeply enough to be confused. It takes effort to be confused rather than complacent.

Sometimes a muse will stir confusion in your mind on a previously settled topic. You can try dismiss the muse as you would a housefly, or you can pursue a resolution to the confusion. You can find relief from your confusion by apathy or by hard work. If you choose to push through the confusion to resolution, your confidence will initially decrease even as your understanding increases. If you’re vocal about your confusion, you will invite ridicule. Confusion takes courage.

4 thoughts on “Confusion

  1. I appreciate the point you are making. However, I think it would be helpful if you would distinguish between the confusion of which one is unaware and the confusion of which one is aware. To be confused about something without begin aware of the confusion is unlikely to profit much. If examples of people unconsciously confused are needed, one need only read a few of Plato’s more popular dialogues.

    Any thoughts on the relationship between being puzzled/perplexed and being (consciously) confused?

  2. Michael: Good points. As for conscious vs unconscious confusion, I had the former in mind. As far as being puzzled versus being confused, maybe being puzzled comes first and confusion comes later as you’re trying to assemble thoughts but haven’t reached resolution.

  3. I like that distinction too. Confusion, precisely, is when we fuse things together that should be separate. It’s an essential step along the line of drawing distinctions.

    Being perplexed may be a broader category, including confusion and every other form of perplexity.

    I’m a little confused now, so I have to think about this.

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