There is a
school of thought that proposes that, as humans, we are bound by a 'phenomenon'
called Cognitive Closure. In summary, it is said that we are naïve to assume
that the human mind is capable of comprehending all things and that there are
bound to be some universal explanations that will forever evade us, no matter
how hard we try to find the answers.
It is not a
terribly hard pill to swallow. Just as your favourite dog will probably never
grasp Einstein’s model of the universe, there may well be laws and/or constants
and/or explanations (whatever you choose to call them) that are just too
complex for the human mind to compute. That is not to say that they (the
answers) don’t exist: only that they will always remain beyond our reach.
Examples (may) include the origins of the universe and the separation (or
non-separation) of mind and body.
are various ways that one could deal with this school of thought, presuming that
you accept it. You could say, from the start, that a problem is too complex and
that it is, therefore, a waste of time pursuing an answer … or, you could
acknowledge that, if there is a limit to human understanding, we don’t yet know
where it is and that we should keep pushing for answers until we discover the
limit through trying.
I am going
to make two submissions.
The first is
that the two “ways of dealing with this” are observable in attitudes, here on
News24 (and elsewhere). In many debates, there are people who have given up trying, because
they assume concepts to be too difficult, and there are those who are keeping
up-to-date and trying to expand their minds, roughly in correspondence with the
latest scientific developments. The latter crowd normally attempts to offer explanations
and/or arguments, whilst the former crowd normally offers up only excuses for
why they don’t want to try and think about what the latter has said.
submission is around which is the healthier attitude and, of course, this is my
personal opinion, open to debate. You see, I am of the view that we should keep
pushing the boundaries, until our limitations present themselves. We should not
be closing our own cognitions, simply because we assume a limit to (somewhere)
exist. This is because, translated, to me, it sounds very much like “it’s too
difficult, so, I’m not going to even try”. You are losing the game by default
and, if everyone had adopted this attitude, I’d venture to say that we’d be
centuries behind the scientific development that we see today. It should not be
us that sets ourselves limitations … if anything, it should be the actual
limitations (if any) that hold us back.
So, what’s the point of
saying all of this? Well, not a hell of a lot … I’ve noticed that, once people
have accepted personal limitations, it’s often very difficult for them to pull themselves
out of it. However, there may be one or two of you with niggling doubts, where
you have read this and thought that you have, perhaps, set yourself Cognitive
Closures, in which you would not forever like to be bound. Perhaps, you put off
reading that book, because a trusted friend told you that it stretched the mind
too far and bordered on speculation … that it was not worth reading? Perhaps,
the difficult subject matter put you off, because you knew it would contradict
an easy (outdated, even cherished) answer that you had already accepted? Well, I’d say read the
book … take the course … watch the video. I’ve no idea where our limits lie,
but, neither do you. Whether near or far, either way, what harm will come to
you by exploring them?