Friday, January 21, 2011

Absolutes are Easy

Thinking in absolute terms is an easy game.  What's hard is fitting every piece of new information into your terms.  Even that isn't terribly complicated when you're convinced that you're right, at least for a time.  Drinking might help the reframing process, certainly did for me a few times.  "New Concepts" seem to appear, though they are more likely a new justification for an old concept or assumption.

I've heard a lot of people profess awe at Socrates' notion of knowing nothing, only to swallow once and speed into an explanation for something.  Nevertheless, I think the point isn't so much to realize that you know nothing as to hold back the surge of reasons that fill the swamp when you're confronted with some new pattern of events.  That part is difficult, because we don't like ambiguity.  If someone appears to be androgynous, for instance, it usually gets a lot of looks and the ultimate question: what are you?  What is it?  The ultimate insult is to be sexless, the ultimate sin to not tell a story about how you appeal to others, by reflection, to yourself. 

I think we're taught to find a definition of new events and then work to fill our assumption of that definition with reasons.  We like reasons.  We even like it when they're obvious.  "Lots of snow.  Big storm.  Traffic.  Accident."

We dislike not figuring out where people are coming from  when they act/communicate something.  We dislike not being able to communicate with them at a basic level.  We want to know right away and act, and that makes the most sense it could make.  What is more difficult, as perhaps we've all know, is to have two friends who don't get along.  They each have valid reasons (always based on a harm the other performed), and they each have a view of the other that holds some truth.  And there we are in the middle, with access to both streams of information.  What do we do in that situation?  It is harder, though not impossible, to diplomatically insert alternative reasons that might pry back the lid of conclusions.  Friends often find solace with each other, agreement.  Even as they profess principles of "telling it like it is" and valuing others because of their honesty.  The test is what happens when they cross you, or you disagree with them.

I'm convinced that we almost cannot arbitrate the matter at hand immediately.  It takes time.  For their to be time, there must be ambiguity. Personally, it usually takes me a day or two to start to see someone's point of view.

Lots of laws talk about reasonable people disagreeing.  When reasonable people could execute some principle differently, then it might be a matter for a court to handle.  Thing is, I'm not sure judges are less prone to any of the above.

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