Archive for November, 2016

Much of our knowledge is pseudo-knowledge

November 26, 2016

A child points at a plant and asks “Daddy, what is that?” The father replies “It’s a rose.”

Does the child now know what the plant is? No. “rose” is just a word, a sound. It is a label that we humans have invented. That word/sound/label says nothing about the plant. The plant is still very much a mystery to the child (and to the father).

The child asks his father “How do birds know where to fly south in the Autumn?” The father replies “Instinct.”

Again, “instinct” is just a word, a sound, a label. The ability of birds to know where to fly is still very much a mystery.

Much of our knowledge is pseudo-knowledge (fake, false, pretend).

Here’s a slightly different way to put it: Everything is vague to a degree you do not realize till you have tried to make it precise. (Bertrand Russell)

Controlling a person by refusing to use the person’s name

November 19, 2016

This is a sad story. It is horrible.

I know a couple, let me call them Kenny and Mary. They were married a long, long time. Kenny never called Mary by her name. To other people, Kenny would refer to Mary by the words “her” or “she”. After many years of enduring this Mary finally went to a psychiatrist and asked about it. The psychiatrist told her: “By not calling you by name, it puts him in control. That way you have no identity.”

That way you have no identity.

Recently I met up with Mary. Kenny passed away long ago. Mary told me the story. I was particularly moved by what the psychiatrist said: “That way you have no identity.” That’s awful. To treat a person like they don’t exist, not worthy of even acknowledging their existence … what a horrible, horrible thing to do to a person (especially your life partner!).