Thursday, April 27, 2017

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(.."Once upon a time, .. in a galaxy far, far away" .. )





 Long ago, when I was a student we had a visiting speaker at the geological society meeting. It was a talk on palaeontology.  I remember very clearly the old man who came slowly into the room with his walking stick and sat down in the front row, and who after the meeting  got slowly to his feet and quietly left.   Ninety if he was a day.  Our palaeontology lecturer turned to us and said "That old fellow there, .."  [name, .. I never remembered]   ".. he's come to hear the speaker.  He was extremely bright in his day, and very highly thought of, but in his later years he lost his mind.  He got this strange idea (laugh)  that the reasons ammonites and other shells spiral, and that the Earth rotates, are related.   It was a great shame.  He lost all credibility in the profession..".



Strange to think how when young we generally believe in the certitude of knowledge.  When older we brashly question it only (eventually) to realise its possible validity, then when older still and with deeper insight we return to original questioning confirming the truism that the more we know, the more we find we don't know.

That's the tremendous advantage consensus has over our own enquiry and understanding, and why there is security and certainty in what others generally believe. That in itself is the reason why consensus  'has to be right'.

What is it then, that turns us aside from the consensus path and question it?, .. Is it just sheer cussedness?  I don't think so.  I think happens when we make a connection on a deeper level than just the intellectual, when something just doesn't 'feel quite right'.

We make that connection through the power of analogy. We cognitively register (/recognise) that things are "just like", but "different" - that when Nature finds a successful way of doing something she keeps doing it over and over, .. in different but similar ways. [note to add a comment about this.]

Difference - yet similarity. It's the code we have to crack, and the dichotomy we continually have to weigh in all our dealings. The +ve and -ve of our neurological system equips us for making this balance in rationality.

"Ratio" (ratio-nality) - sense of proportion. It's the highest functionality we have. It's the edge we walk every day, in the yes/ no of basic cognition, in the communication of speech and in body language. Children have it instinctively, and trust it, but we lose it as we grow older, as self-serving 'logic' takes over. We become less than rational. We become clever.


"Children have this habit of thinking for themselves, and the point of education is to cure them of this habit" - Bertrand Russell

"I doubt whether classical education ever has been or can be successfully carried out without corporal punishment" - George Orwell




(The Goodies, ... the Baddies,...  the Force, ..)



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