Thursday, July 07, 2005


An inquiry into human understanding

The other day, B and I were chatting with the checker at the grocery store. The checker -- probably in her early 20s -- told us that she had gone on vacation with her girlfriend. Where to? Why, her girlfriend's familial home, which included two parents and an authoritarian grandmother. For ten days! The two young women barely left the house, never went out at night, and our young grocery checker had a terrible time.

Well, duh! I wanted to say to the checker: haven't you learned by now that you never, NEVER, spend more than three-days, two-nights under your in-laws' roof, and only then after laying down strict guidelines with your girlfriend about how you will set aside crucial quality alone-time and otherwise both get your needs met on this stressful visit?

I mean, I learned this years ago! Why isn't this information part of our cultural human heritage -- like how to make fire?

Clearly, there are some things everyone has to learn for her- or him- self. We all experience this when our good friends, or children, or nephews and neices ignore our advice. You know the scene: you are describing an enduring truth of human nature that you learned through bitter, painful experience (e.g., "so it was totally obvious that he was just not that into me!") and your young protege looks at you, pretending to listen, but you can see from the telltale glaze in the eye, or the gaze directed off into space beyond your left shoulder, that this thickheaded fool is going to do exactly what he/she wants and not listen to a word you're saying!

So here's my challenge: in 25 words or less, define the two contrasting structures of human knowledge to explain why one kind becomes part of the collective knowledge of humankind whereas another has to be learned by each person for him/herself.


This sounds like my favorite knowlege topic--ability to apply "a priori" knowledge to life choices rather than waiting for "a posteriori" knowledge from experience.

I think that as a complaint by older generations about the younger, it is a cliche. Yet, I have observed very young people who make competent, correct decisions prior to experiencing consequences. Those who lean toward "a priori" methods are sometimes those who are goaded to "come out of their shell" and "live a little."

I'm sure both types exist in academia and among JDs generally.

One's predeliction for one style over the other can make a great difference in one's "success" in life, from choice of job to interpersonal relationships to how one handles money, etc.
Some things must be experienced first hand. For example, reading about love and loss is all well and good, but you won't believe any of it until it happens to you.
Perhaps you should have asked readers to share their favorite story about time spent visiting their in-laws. That would generate an interesting series of anecdotes. In truth, however, even though in-laws can be challenging, there are very few people I want to spend 10 days holed up with in close quarters.
This remind me of the speech Robin WIlliams gives Matt Damon in the park in Good Will Hunting.
On more physically related things, second-hand living won't do. Mental stimuli perhaps can be processed, and even retained in DNA, to be passed on. ???
Well, perhaps now that you committed this excellent advice to your blog, it will begin to circulate freely throughout the literate world, being translated to apply in different cultures and circumstance, and finally becoming part of our cultural human heritage, like making fire.

Blogging for the good of humanity, you are. Now, could you pass me a dry match? I've been rubbing these sticks together for ages without any luck whatsoever.
nice blog enjoyed it :)

Keep up the excellent work! and i bookmarked u!

so cant wait for ur next post! :)

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]