Sunday, August 31, 2014

Figuring It Out?

How we do or don't understand what we already understand--the circumference of our knowledge, if you will--is actually a terribly difficult and hard project to start.  It is akin or parallel or even exactly the same issue of wondering whether there is ultimately any purpose to one's life, and whether there is any purpose at all.

I don't know what I don't know.  However, I am quite aware that there is a lot I don't know.  At this point, I'm even willing to say that I don't know most things.  However, that's not always a successful way to live life.  Paralyzing anxiety and dread can come out of it, and stop one from thinking straight at all.

So there's got to be some sort of leap of faith in one's own capacity to understand decipher and try to knock down the harsh complexity of the world and one's place in the world into some boxes, categories, and yes, stories.  The reduction of raw data to stories is in fact at the core of almost every discipline.  What is the story with those numbers, for instance, or with that dataset.  How do we understand it in words, even if very complex words that take years to understand?

We reduce.  Simple and plain.  The best of us recognize the reductions, and the complexity behind those reductions.  The worst of us use the reductions as reality.  Conflating the two can yield quick gain, but I'd wager that long term it is not a tenable strategy.  Deciding you understand everything just because you think you do is not, to me, the sign of what we should be aiming toward, or how we should act.  However, it is how we act most of the time.  Almost all arguments are based on someone's misunderstanding of reality, and backing away from your own misunderstanding is the hardest thing to do in the world.

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