Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Rules of Life #09

Rule #9: No one can be known.

A social twist on my poor understanding of philosophical zombies goes something like this: there is no external difference between a real, thinking human in a social environment and a human which simply learns and mimics behaviors beneficial to them in a social environment. I don't mention it to insinuate that someone or anyone is a beast imitating mankind, but to show the ocean of vague qualities which comprise every real human person you've met.

Much as our own planet's oceans remain “mostly charted,” we're rarely privy to our own deepest trenches, much less that of others. Have you ever noticed how condescending people become once they think they have someone else all figured out.

Or hey, maybe that's just me.
Far more likely is that we think we have someone figured out. People go deep, even when it seems they don't. We like to believe tha tothers are something we can identify, type, and know the minute we see them. That's why racism and bigotry exist; believing every black teenager you meet is a dangerous criminal provides a weird kind of security because it comes bundled with a set of feel-safer actions which give the racist in question a sense of security and control in an otherwise unremarkable but potentially ambiguous social situation.

Even when we innocently write someone off as an idiot, it denies not just the fact that they have just lived every moment of their own lives—every second just as we have—but the truth that they've experienced these seconds. They've interpreted and emotionally reacted to them. They've connected them to earlier events and experiences. The lives of others aren't a series of energy exchanges occurring in a haze of visual agnosia, force applied, and chemical reactions taking place over a delta-t; they see and feel events just as we have done and they've done it and will do it far outside of the tiny window where we're around each other.

The thought that we could know someone else—really know them—should be a punchline, not a common assumption.

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