Grayness (was RE: JP Barlow, Ph.D, Social Engineering)

Michael Butler (
Tue, 24 Sep 1996 11:58:59 PST

Jeff Dee said:
Or does it simply mean 'acknowledging that there is a degree of
uncertainty in all ideas, and dealing with that rationally'?

I say:
Close. What I happen to prefer is the kind of mental resilience that
permits one to hold a bunch of truths constant while looking at the
world, remembering from time to time that "certainty" is a state of
mind, not matter.

The phrase "dealing with that rationally" is one I wouldn't use...
"dealing with that wisely" might be closer to my goal.
Categories are very useful. So is the ability to think outside
the box.

I think I understand why people get upset with the fuzzy
situational ethicists etc. running the US educational system. I begin
to think that what's happening is rather like the "new math" fiasco
made of the Bourbaki school back in my youth--superficial misleading
"teaching" being done by "teachers" who don't really understand the
material, leaving the students completely clueless about the "why"
and the deep structure.

Tragic but tough to prevent. I'm reminded of Stephenson's (sp?)
observation in _Diamond Age_ that the children of the first-gen
Vickys didn't come to a decision about social fabric, they were born
into a pattern--so they locked into it like the good little meat
machines they were. (sigh)

MMB, not representing OCV