Thursday, July 31, 2008

General aspects on human interpretation of the world

Watch, listen and observe, but never conclude

Humans are endowed with sensory organs, which have been put to an extensive use of in our bid of trying to figure out, explain and describe the world. Early humans, due to lack of knowledge and understanding, deployed view, touch and feel to understand and describe natural phenomena. It was however not until Socrates that the systematized reasoning and subsequent rationalization became not only widespread, but also the only norm for explaining away every event and development on the Earth. His theory, immortalized by his pupil Plato (Academy) and latter’s meticulous but decadent apprentice Aristotle (Lyceum), became what now is considered the only approach for understanding various aspects of world evolution. It is easy to understand why this happened. Rationalization is what allows a systematic and logical way of connecting dots and arriving to a line of reasoning, which is easy to grasp and therefore enormously appealing to every human.

Humans must watch, listen and observe but never conclude because there is so much we don’t perceive nor understand and which is off the range of our sensory organs that concluding and generalizing based on what small amount of biased information we receive will undeniably lead to wrong outcomes.

What we think is true because of conclusions of our sciences and religions is not necessarily the truth. It is a human truth, not the truth.

Don’t judge or otherwise infuse meaning

Nothing has meaning. It is our judgments and interpretations which infuse meaning in otherwise meaningless things, events and phenomena. Humans feel the urge of knowing and understanding. Seeing meaning, objective, or intention is easing this urge by satisfying our inner physiological need to understand. That is why we seek and “find” meanings and intentions in everything around and affecting us.

Assigning meaning and intention is only natural for humans. But we mustn’t forget this because if we do, we will start living in an illusionary world – my guess is that 99% of humanity does so – but we will think that it is the only true world.

Interpret from viewpoint of self-preservation

Humans like the rest of creatures walking this world have always been and still are driven by self-preservation instinct. Every explanation or interpretations else must be based on this viewpoint. Sense of beauty and attraction all have their roots in self-preservation.

Our everyday and long-term choices all count self-preservation to one degree or another and we have to remember that.

Loose the illusion of control

Because of trying to explain, conclude and therefore necessarily oversimplifying the world, we think that we are in possession of all knowledge and information and therefore are able to control and influence outcomes and developments.

Nicolas Taleb has written an excellent book called "Fooled by Randomness," which gives a rather exhaustive explanation of how much we are not in control. The recent movie "Kung Fu Panda" is also basing some of its turnkey ideas on this concept.

Consider power struggle as the main objective

What happens when more than one creature of the same species (let alone, many species) are put together in one place, which has limited resources? Power struggle ensues. Creatures try to appropriate resources in proportion to their physical capacity and mental agility. There is no idea or sense of democracy, equal rights or apathy – all of these being recent human inventions for social coherence and unity. Nature pure and raw designates and rewards the strongest.

Humans are no exception and human history is the most solid testimony to this. What is taught in schools is a retrospective and delusionary interpretation of world evolution full of heroes, their (incumbent) good intentions and higher feelings. Needless to say that we couldn’t be farther off the mark. Neither Alexander the Great embarked on his military campaign to spread democracy nor Otto von Bismarck (during the Congress of Berlin in 1878) decided to let Ottoman Empire in one piece for sake of peace and unity. History books teach us what looks like a logical and rational line of developments aimed at proving how humans evolved from barbarian, insensitive, blood-lusty creatures into higher species full of apathy, compassion and awareness of global issues.

Many believe us to be so. Unfortunately, there is no basis for this belief.