Discussing relatively recently with a local poet, a compromise of conversation was highlighted to me. Having delivered some vibrant and thought provoking poetry he explained that he uses poetry to portray his thoughts and observations about life. Out conversation swayed into the topic of relativity and how generalisations can never be taken as fact as all things are relative. Happiness, success, good bad, all things are varying shades of grey.
I fervently agreed and we chatted about human nature, Richard Dawkins, life atheists (as opposed to religious ones) and Robert Anton Wilson’s desire to remove the word ‘is’ from the English Language. It was an interesting and engaging conversation. It was when he said, due to the extreme nature of his views, he now found it almost impossible to engage in one-to-one conversation because he could not accept generalisations. That made me double check my own view point.
Without generalisations and probabilities, we would be unable to have reasoned, intelligent debate. We would be unable to make decisions or maintain some control over our surroundings. Without a ‘flexible’ understanding we would lose the ability to engage in many of our normal conversations. Ok, we need to ensure that we understand a particular word or emotion the way the person delivering it intends. But we also need to use probability to guage what is likely to happen, in order to plan and engage.
So, I accept that to understand behaviour we must assign probability – all things being relative, of course!