Thursday, December 29, 2016

Aphorisms no. 25

In a universe of infinite facts there are an infinite number of ways to be right. The existence of an opposing viewpoint does not prove either of them are wrong. The reason we pay attention to some facts and not others is their emotional utility us to us; their meaning, value, purpose, and our friendships.

Nearly all lies come from omitting something. What are you omitting? What are they? Will it work?

Everyone on Earth interprets disagreement as a personal attack — whether they admit it or not. The facts they have paid attention to are only noticed by them because of their emotional utility. Invalidating those facts is subconsciously, always, an invalidation of them.

Facts contain within themselves normative assertions. The descriptive is never purely descriptive; the structure of a phrase embodies its normative implication.

"Rain falls on stone," implies that rain is doing something to the stone — that rain is at fault.
"Gravity causes rain to fall," implies that a third agent, called "gravity" is responsible. Responsibility is assigned to an object.
"The stone receives the rain," implies that the action of falling is received by the stone — that the stone is responsible.

So seemingly benign statements can contain assertions of causality and responsibility. Nothing is ever as factual / descriptive as it seems. Obviously, no one is literally saying in the example above that inanimate objects are responsible. It is simply a noncontroversial example given to point out the general pattern.

So there are an infinite number of ways to be right. Error is omission. And people embody their values in seemingly factual statements.

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