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Why Do We Seek One Ring To Rule Them All?

 29. August 2017

yesterday i mused about explanation privileging, where one always reaches for one ring to rule them all in their explanations of behavior. this morning i am thinking about the reasons that happens.

don’t be alarmed, i’m not gonna suggest there’s just one reason for it every time it happens, i’m circular, every argument is circular, true enough, but i’m not that circular. it takes more than one step. :)

one reason it happens is biology. there are huge biological reasons why strategies such as “always think real hard” are contraindicated. in “thinking fast and slow,” we’re given dozens of cases where humans rapid-fire decision-making and get situationally poor answers.

hahneman’s explanation is connected to heidegger’s concept of thrownness via evolution. we are thrown (biologically) into a world where we must act, and often enough, we must act quickly. the alternative is death. so our brains are, naturally, built with that in mind. explanation-privileging is a shortcut, and we value shortcuts a very great deal.

another reason? i, we, prefer to use the best tool we got. when i have a remedy Y that i am good at, i want to use it as often as i can. i’ve a friend who’s a great teacher. good w/words, passion, explanation. she reaches for the “teaching” weapon, tho, first thing every time. it hampers her effectiveness as a coach, in my view. sometimes people don’t want to be a student. they want something else.

explanation privileging is also part of the ordinary abstraction-seeking that healthy human minds do. the great value of abstraction is that you have to know less to use it. if i have one rule, that’s patently easier than if i have 50.

the problem with being a fox rather a hedgehog is that you have to constantly be watching every damned thing. easy to see the attraction from there of a monist approach. explanation-privileging dramatically reduces the # of things i must consider.

i notice, as i puzzle this out, i am throwing out lots of “reasonable” factors. but of course, there are tons of unreasonable ones, too. some days, i’m severely hungover, and my explanations of others’ behavior tend in, well, the same shameful despairing direction as my heart. it’s not reasonable of me to think of everyone else as feeling the same as i do. it provides no benefit at all. it just is what happens.

there are a million variants on the unreasonable reasons we privilege explanations. anger. grief. mommy issues. stepped in a puddle, and so on. it’s a mistake, i think, to think of oneself and others as always being reasonable at all. many times i am not. many.

another factor i see is a kind of overweening fondness for intellectual purity. i speak here not of actual value provided, that is, we already have discussed the real merits of abstraction. rather, i’m talking about an unreasonable over-valuing of those merits.

some folks like to have one ring to rule them all at a level far beyond reasonable. they seem driven to intellectual purity. desperate, even, is a word i would use. i am always riven with twinned feelings of pity and disgust in such settings. i get very dickish.

so. given all these, and i’m sure more, justifications or explanations or drives towards explanation-privileging, how does one resist?

i say that like i know. i don’t. i think i know sometimes how i resist it in some situations. :)

maybe later i muse on the tricks i use to avoid monism in my explanations and my remedies, on those occasions i manage to.