January 5, 2013

There Are Two Views of the World:

Just as there are only ever two types of people, there are two ways to view on the world: by focusing on the things in themselves and by focusing on the relationships between those things. Continuing the metaphor, just as there are always limitations with any dividing duality, there are inherent problems with focusing exclusively on either the things in themselves or the relationships between things.

It is easy to focus on objects in themselves because it is easy for our eye to distinguish objects from each other. That Bible is clearly different than the other books on your bookshelf or the wood of the bookshelf itself. A friend can be picked out of a crowd of other people with ease. Normally, we focus on the objects by themselves.  This can be as simple as staring at the Bible on a bookshelf or focusing solely on the scowl on a friend's face. Much can be learned by focusing on just this thing. For instance, you can understand how angry your friend is, how long the anger might last, if the anger is directed at you, just by examining the movements of your friend as she stomps towards you.

Equally easily is to find the short comings of focusing on the thing itself. If you ignore the relationships and context of the item, you'll lose out on much of its meaning. For instance, a Bible alone on a shelf alone is very different than a Bible on a shelf with the Quran, Tao Te Ching, and the Book of Mormon. Your friend stomping towards you angrily is different than your friend stomping away from their arch nemesis angrily and very different from them stomping away from their beloved angrily.

The faults of the first system gives rise to the strengths of the second. By focusing on the relationships between things a greater subtly and understanding of the world can be understood. By seeing where things stand in relation to other, you have a better sense of the thing itself in how and why it is being used. Focusing on the things themselves answers what and who questions. Focusing on relationships between things answers how and why questions.

But, outside of the laws of physics, the relationships between things are inherently subjective. We might think that the Bible belongs among all the other books on Religion and Philosophy and miss that its normal resting place is beside the bed. Or, and I suspect this happens often in offices, we become so focused on interpersonal power plays that we miss the chance to do something meaningful and good in the world.

To sum it up: the world is like a spiderweb. Individual objects are the junctions between the strands. Relationships are the strands going from node to node. But nodes are made up of strands and strands must connect node to node. Focusing on either one of these means the entire spiderweb is lost and, therefore, we lose sight of reality. Since Neo-Aristocrats live and succeed only in reality, we must train ourselves to not be caught up focusing too intently on either the things in themselves or the relationships between things.