Archive for October, 2008

The Nature of Understanding

Friday, October 17th, 2008 | Uncategorized | No Comments

I’ve been on this kick lately about layers. nike chaussure I believe the way we work is that we hold on to one model for the world at a time, or one “layer”. This layer is sometimes wrong, but most of the time it is right. new balance 998 It is true. But it isn’t complete.

As an example, let me talk about my understanding of understanding (very meta)…

h3. Layer A

Every question has one right answer. oakley homme pas cher Anything besides that right answer is wrong. Also, every question has an answer that can be discovered…all I have to do is ask my parents.

Q: is there a god?

A: yes

h3. Layer B

My parents don’t know everything. Some questions I have to find the answer for myself.

Q: why is the sky blue?

h3. Layer C

It’s okay to live with a question. Some questions we can’t know the answer for right now. nike chaussures But the answer does exist, maybe we can figure it out later.

Q: how can we be responsible for our actions if God created us as he did?

h3. Layer D

Some questions have answers we can never know. It’s helpful to find possible answers for those questions. But our answers are probably all wrong. Jews greatly value this idea, and (if I remember correctly) one of their holy works, the Midrash is devoted to theories (many conflicting) that explain events in the Torah.

Q: what does life after death look like?

h3. Layer E

Some questions can have more than one answer which are all true, in that they are part of the truth. The example is the 3 blind men who are all touching a part of an elephant. When asked to describe the elephant, they give 3 seemingly conflicting accounts and start to argue, not realizing that they are all correct.

h3. Layer F

Most questions have more than one answer, and it is only by holding all of the answers in your head that you fully “grock” the truth. This is impossible (or next to) for most questions.

In other words, the map is not the territory. Reality is too big, and too complex to fit in our small heads. So we create abstractions that simplify it and help us to predict and deal with it. Adidas Gazelle Soldes But these models are not reality, and when we think they are we start becoming arrogant and making bad choices.

h3. new balance red Layer G – where I currently am

h4. Layers

I am using the term “layer” to refer to people’s “models”. Everyone is at different layers to different questions.

h4. Layers are not liner

For me I came to the above layers in this order : A, B, C, D, E. nike air max command Someone else might come to those same layers in the order A, C, E, B

h4. No layer is complete

As stated above, the whole truth is the totality of every layer, each of which is part of the truth. classic short womens ugg boots It is next to impossible to hold so many layers in your head, so to simplify my world, I try instead to remember simply that layers exist. So that when I talk to someone I can try to take into consideration which layer they are at because…

h4. Your next layer of understanding depends on your current layer of understanding

As above, not everyone experiences layers in the same order, but if someone is at layer B, for example, it may be impossible for them to go to layer E, but they may be able to go to layer C or F.

This is why it is so important to consider where someone is. nike roshe run If you don’t you may be wasting your breath trying to explain something to them at your own layer. After finding someone’s layer, consider small jumps to other layers that are closer to yours. They may make much more sense.

h4. You’ll know more tomorrow

This is tied to “no layer is complete”. But you can bet that in a year your layers will all change, at least subtly. This is why it’s OK for someone not to be at your “enlightened” layer. new balance brown Because in a year’s time, or 2 or 10, you won’t consider it “enlightened”. It’s only relatively enlightened.