Sunday, May 31, 2009

Thought for the day

I was thinking a bit today about how the human mind works. It seems to me that the mind does not like a lot of choices, no more than two if at all possible, and even then the other choice is generally thought to be wrong. Reality is not so simple, I think.

Left and Right, Liberal and Conservative, Right and Wrong, Good and Evil. Oh, we like 31 flavors of ice cream and a hundred brands of toothpaste to choose from, but on the important things we prefer to keep it down to two. Binary thinking; perhaps it comes from our evolution; fight or flight, maybe we are hard-wired that way. I don't know.

We see this in politics all the time, on both sides. It's easy to think of the Right as being rigid and unthinking (perhaps because so many of them are) but it is not so easy to dismiss a Thomas Sowell in that way. How many liberals read Sowell? How many conservatives read Paul Krugman?

I'm not merely saying that there is some truth on both sides, or that both sides have something to offer, although I am sure they do, but that there are more than two sides, or there should be. Many more I would say, but we cannot see them, or even think them.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a "human" tendency, just a cultural one -- "Western" culture, stuck in a juvenile level of self-awareness rooted in the ego-fantasy of the separate, allegedly unique, special "Self" vs the Universe, rational(izing) mind vs body hence "Man vs Nature," therefore male vs female, "individual" consciousness (=Superego, less personal than tribal) vs the collective unconscious (=Id, characterized as foreign and "taboo"), etc. In short, just a fluke-of-history psychopathology reified as "Reality."

An old dilemma in our mental map which Korzybski understood and addressed 70 years ago, as others did: See

Only the inorganic/unliving/abstract world is "digital," binary, either/or. Reality/Nature requires an un-brainwashed awareness mediated not by imaginary "gods" in our brain --a Mt. Olympus of abstract categories culturally inculcated-- but by our concrete physical senses which are "analog" and able to accurately register a spectrum of fine shadings between every polarity like "hot"vs "cold," "bright" vs "dark," or "sweet" vs "sour" [taste actually needs more than one set of poles to include "bitter" and "salty"].

Then there are those meta-level, most UNREAL, "moral" abstractions like "good" vs "bad" -- a personal (at best intuitively useful) value judgment which is insidiously projected on the CULTURAL Other, who gets punished for merely existing or beaten into uneasy submission by cultural witchdoctors.

Nothing more mind-rotting than to be a slave of Abstractions, rendering us deaf, dumb & blind to actual [common-]sensory Reality and "under the spell" of the ultimate hypnotic induction: language (subliminally) invested with (forbidden) emotion. Our dualistic binary gloss is a huge part of it.

3:38 PM  

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