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Lesson Plans


Uncertainty...

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
henry (taylorh)
Wed, 11 Jun 1997 10:59:29 -0700 (MST)


On Sat, 7 Jun 1997, Numo Jaeger wrote:

> I think that uncertainty is uncomfortable. The pop culture doesn't
> want to embrace uncertainty. The pop culture likes clean answers. Clear
> cut decisions. The "good guy" wins in the end. Heck...I don't like
> uncertainty ... it's scary. Stepping into empty space with no hand
> holds. It requires faith in the universe. Faith and uncertainty need to
> be together.

I like that, especially "Faith and uncertainty need to be together." I
too find uncertainty uncomfortable and risky. At the same time, I've
noticed that uncertainty and risk more often accompany my most valued
experiences than do qualities such as "predictable" and "risk". Comfort
is an easy and popular goal.

There is scary and then there is SCARY. It's scary to blurt out personal
and possibly unpopular ideas in public and to risk being perceived as a
fool. It is also risky to skydive or shoot class 7 rapids. Personally, I
have found the role of fool to be an ancient and honorable profession,
while "deceased" somehow lacks appeal. It seems that less is at risk with
foolishness than with other scary possibilities.

I do like rollercoasters. They are scary too. Scary CAN be fun. (if one
finds the risks acceptable) So, I guess that for me, uncertainty,
especially philosophical uncertainty, rates up there with rollercoasters
- scary but also fun. Worth the risks.

> Does our culture, does the world culture have hope and faith? Many
> of the students I am working with have dark visions for the future. Fear,
> violence, hunger, homelessness, gangs...the list goes on and on...We lack a
> common goal to unite us together. There seems to be a new "me" generation
> out of necessity. I have to get my piece of the pie before the pie is gone.

If my perception is that:
1] there can be only winners OR losers
2] the "more" is always better
3] that there is not and can not be enough to go around
4] that for me to "Have" requires that someone else "Has Not"
...and, if that is acceptable to me, then enlightened self-interest
almost requires a "me" generation or perspective. (a zero-sum economy)

If my perception includes the possibilities that:
1] there are cases where everyone can "lose" and cases where everyone
can "win"
2] that "enough" is usually appropriate
3] that there is less risk in sharing
4] that for me to "Have" requires others who also "Have" (an exchange)
...and if that is acceptable to me, then enlightened self-interest almost
requires a "we" generation. (a win/win economy)

> Perhaps pop culture needs boundaries to push against.

Perhaps we all need boundries individuals and cultures alike?

> The rules and boundaries are there prevent chaos, uncertainty and
> provide a comfort level.

I don't think that boundries prevent uncertainty, but they seem often to
reduce it. After all, even boundaries can be uncertain things. If we can
behave "as-if" a boundary existed, then the the actual boundary becomes
irrelevant.... we no longer require high mountains, rivers, or triple
fences. As new information becomes pertinant, boundaries can be adjusted.

> Perhaps it is like that because it requires less thinking. Thinking requires
> effort.

Cognitive entropy; ultimately, the end of mental effort, all things are
inherently equal, stones and loaves become indistinguishable, existance
becomes and evenly lit immaterial universe.

> I would like to read more of your thoughts on uncertainty.

Uncertainty undermines authority. "Truth" and "fact" acquire ambiguity.
However, entropy (the thing encouraging less effort of thought) is not
requisite. If I expend the effort, I can keep the "uncertainty ball", the
"truth ball", and the "fact ball", ALL in the air at once, their
relationships constantly changing in the smallest of ways, like atoms,
genes, and ecologies. It is not easy and it is not without risk or error.
It is alive and it has value. I can say all this, and be uncertain about it.

If it is the best I can come up with, for the moment, then it's probably
the best place to place my Faith - FOR THE MOMENT. I may, after all,
learn something new.

We humans have always been attracted by the utopian qualities of
intellectual, rigid formalism. It looks so "foolproof" ...at least in the
short-run. The domain of the absolute has, it appears to me, always been
deadly either through the offices of repressive restriction or simple
boredom.

Think about this... the most safe and secure, the most unstressed, risk-free
individuals living in our culture MAY be those in the intensive care of a
long-term coma ward... It's not a certain thing, it's arguable, it's a
thought.

Uncertainty has alway marked a thing as "Living" a living creature,
living ecology, or living system. Where prediction becomes unnecessary and
probability meaningless there is very little, if any, "life".

So, I like uncertainty. I can't depend upon it, but it seems better to me
than the alternative.

Of course, there can be "too much" uncertainty too. That's Chaos, and that's
another concept.

-henry


  • Maybe reply: Numo Jaeger and Michael Miller: "Re: Uncertainty..."
  • Maybe reply: henry: "Re: Uncertainty..."