Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mistakes People Make

It is a typical human mistake to finish reading a book (be it about medicine, or physics, or the human brain, or what-have-you) that the reader finds compelling; it may even appear to contain the “end all” of information on that particular subject.

Almost always, the mistake is the end all part.

That book or essay or whatever, however well written, however solid may seem the information contained, it is but a “chapter” in Mortimer Adler’s “Great Conversation” that has been going on across generations for all of human history.

The “lumpers” and “splitters” among us may try to combine or divide things concerning a given subject so as to make it more easily understandable, or to try to explain its evolution over the eons, but those efforts are merely potential aids.

Another mistake we humans have made through the ages, and occasionally continue to make to this day, is to burn or otherwise try to expunge books, essays, etc. because one finds the information in them somehow objectionable; usually, but not always, according to the local mores or beliefs of the time. When this has happened, valuable contributions to the Great Conversation have sometimes been lost forever.

The Greeks, the Romans, Europeans, other civilizations, have tried to do this from time to time throughout the centuries. It is a human mistake! One does not have to accept anyone’s assertions about anything, but it is a mistake to try to eliminate them.