Factors Improving Survival

Among the many faculties that determine, which individual is among the fittest that survive, the ability to recognize similarities is of high prominence. The ability to think in analogies is to recognize that a present impression is similar to an impression that the organism has encountered previously, and this faculty is the basis both for the memory and the ability to learn. No wonder then that our culture lays a great emphasis on similarities. In fact, our abstract, rational thinking is based on a picture of the universal unit, which is devoid of any properties and similar to replicates of its own shape. We base our rational thinking on the idea of the unit, denoted as “1”, and we live in the idealized world, where every sum is made up of 1s. We decree that it is rational to believe that the basic building block of our concepts is of one of unit properties. This idea may be pleasing to the neurology, and makes thinking a simple matter of dealing with uniform units, yet we may be forced by insight to improve on it.

Our ability to focus on a specific thing of interest is good for survival. Pointing out one specific instance of something is good if we want to hunt it down and eat or impregnate it, but as always, this advantage has also its drawbacks. By single-mindedly neglecting the surroundings of the target object we gain survival advantages, so we promote this technique as a superb tool of thinking rationally. We save the trouble of having to decide, which of the aspects of the mental picture the important one is, but we incur the costs of not training decisions, and generally domesticate our thinking into believing that a well-founded logical picture of the world is free of conflicting, even contradictory results of evaluations.

We can very well distinguish between objective and subjective. One is outside and factual; the other is personal, intimate and not so easy to communicate. So we use the mental techniques of contrasting, and differentiate between what is the foreground and what is the background. No communication can be understood unless it relates to its specific background; yet in a rational discourse it is a cultural taboo to switch between that what is clear, circumscribed, defined and that what is the subjective background, the insinuation, and the debatable. Only the poets have the liberty to use the connotations freely, by others we usually see in the infusion of background information a sign of a troubled mind. We are trained – and used - to believe that a mind works correctly, if it restricts its public communications to elements of the foreground. Yet, poets are a part of Nature.

Small children, even animals, are able to distinguish between bigger and smaller, more or less, quiet or loud, bright or dim. This faculty of discrimination can be observed by far earlier than the ability to make additions. A child can distinguish between extents or amounts that we describe by 2,3,5 (size dolls, heaps of chocolate, etc.) far earlier that it can figure out that 2+3=5. The ability to use the logical relations {<|=|>} is at the disposal of a child of some 24-36 months, but we believe formal logic begins with its education in the marvels of the logical relations within the set of logical sentences that are based on the operator {+} within the domain of {=}. Somehow, we have come to look down on the simple ability to discern on size – or extent, or intensity, etc. – as a low-level, proletarian thing that every moron can do and which is not thinking at all.

These are but a few of the neurological artifacts of our brain that influence our thinking. We shall now look into ways to counterbalance the illusions that they create in our view of the world.

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