Again, we're imposing order on the mess we observe, and it's taking the same patterns, and when something is in the form of a story, often we remember it when we shouldn't... every time you tell the good vs. evil story... you're lowering your IQ by ten points or more.
People call me libertarian but I don't in part because I'm not one, but mostly because I suspect that accepting any such label dings my IQ about 15 points.
Aren't there intellectual risks of accepting labels and good-versus-evil stories? Sure. Labels can blind us to counter-evidence. Good-versus-evil stories give us an excuse to damn the messenger instead of considering his message. But the wise response is to strive to compensate for these specific risks - not to salute the intellectual equivalent of the Swiss flag. Indeed, when you really think about it, labels and good-versus-evil stories are unavoidable. Will's implicit label is "label-avoidism." Tyler's implicit good-versus-evil story is "the never-ending war between the good people who don't believe in good-versus-evil stories and the evil people who do."
The art of storytelling evidences deep, almost axiomatic facets of the human condition. We humans are a curious animal, delighting in the search for reasons. We love to abstract meaning from our lives and share it with others -- hence the need to tell stories.
That always struck this Stag Staffer as the deep knot in this human riddle. Having spent the better part of a year in a fellowship predicated on building "awareness" of the biases storytelling and the underlying symbolic process engenders, he has been all too cognizant that the maps we make necessarily are not the territory they describe.
Yet we live in a world of the maps that we make. Thought, perception, experience -- these are but arrows along our symbolic cartographies, lines we impose in an attempt to assert order on an unforgiving sea of signifiers.
And no matter how acute our awareness, we cannot change that landscape, nor the inherently personal perspective through which we sail that sea. From Steinbeck's titanic East of Eden:
“No story has power, nor will it last, unless we feel in ourselves that it is true and true of us. What a great burden of guilt men have!””
Whatever amount of faith one puts in the Christian tradition, there are deep reasons original sin continues to ripple through the consciousness of human civilization. And yet, flowing beneath such waves, is an enduring tide of hope:
…this was the gold from our mining: 'Thou mayest.' The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin (and you can call sin ignorance). The King James translation makes a promise in 'Thou shalt,' meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word timshel—'Thou mayest'—that gives a choice. For if 'Thou mayest'—it is also true that 'Thou mayest not.' That makes a man great and that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win.
The maps we humans make -- from Edge.
How technology can add insight and understanding as we go up and down the ladder of abstraction -- from the inestimable Bret Victor.
We do not know what the meaning of existence is. We say, as the result of studying all of the views that we have had before, we find that we do not know the meaning of existence; but in saying that we do not know the meaning of existence, we have probably found the open channel – if we will allow only that, as we progress, we leave open opportunities for alternatives, that we do not become enthusiastic for the fact, the knowledge, the absolute truth, but remain always uncertain – [that we] 'hazard it.' The English, who have developed their government in this direction, call it 'muddling through,' and although a rather silly, stupid sounding thing, it is the most scientific way of progressing. To decide upon the answer is not scientific. In order to make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar – ajar only. We are only at the beginning of the development of the human race; of the development of the human mind, of intelligent life – we have years and years in the future. It is our responsibility not to give the answer today as to what it is all about, to drive everybody down in that direction and to say: 'This is a solution to it all.' Because we will be chained then to the limits of our present imagination. We will only be able to do those things that we think today are the things to do. Whereas, if we leave always some room for doubt, some room for discussion, and proceed in a way analogous to the sciences, then this difficulty will not arise. I believe, therefore, that although it is not the case today, that there may some day come a time, I should hope, when it will be fully appreciated that the power of government should be limited; that governments ought not to be empowered to decide the validity of scientific theories, that that is a ridiculous thing for them to try to do; that they are not to decide the various descriptions of history or of economic theory or of philosophy. Only in this way can the real possibilities of the future human race be ultimately developed.
Crazy thought: maybe we need to stop presupposing that there is ONE answer to these questions or even ONE path forward for human progress?
Maybe we need to remember the importance -- and inextricable link between -- faith and nonsense.