Is the world crooked?
Is the world crooked?
Robert H Thouless says in his work,
“A word, can not only indicate a fact, but can also suggest an emotional attitude towards it. Such suggestion of an emotional attitude does go beyond mere factual description because our approvals and disapprovals are individual— they belong to ourselves and not to the objects we approve or disapprove of.”
“……………When we turn to politics and international questions, we are still further from straight scientific thinking. Such words as 'progress', 'liberty', 'democratic', 'totalitarian', 'reactionary', 'liberal', 'freedom', 'national honour', are used in national and international political thinking, but they carry more of emotional than of any other meaning………..”
“……..Some philosophers have maintained that all such words as 'vicious', 'bad', 'good', 'beautiful', and 'ugly' only indicate the speaker's own emotional reactions towards certain actions and things, and not properties of those actions and things themselves………..”
Other forms of crooked thinking are: Extreme position, Diversion, "The exception proves the rule", 'irrelevant objection', presenting one's own view as the mean between two extremes,etc.,
Presenting one's own view as the mean between two extremes is called by logicians 'the fallacy of the undistributed middle'. It has this name because the term common to both premises, the 'middle term' B, does not cover the whole class (of beliefs in things we wish to be true) in either of the premises.
“……………….The habit of using words with no clear meaning but with only a general tendency in some direction is another crooked thinking ……………”
The way in which the ignoring of continuous variation leads to crooked argumentation; For example,
“…………Our use of the two sharply contrasted terms 'sane' of ourselves and our neighbours, and 'insane' of the unfortunate persons confined in mental hospitals, leads us to forget the continuity between them. The essential difference between the sane and insane is, however, simply the degree to which they are able to adapt themselves to their environments. This power of successful adaptation varies quite continuously from one individual to another; no one has it perfectly and probably no one has quite lost it. We could make a continuous row of people progressively less well adapted, with the sanest of ourselves at one end and the most insane inhabitants of mental hospitals at the other. Any argument, therefore, which begins in some such way as follows: "A man must be either sane or insane, and an insane person is absolutely incapable of reasonable thought..." is a dangerous piece of crooked thinking, since it ignores this fact of continuity……………….”
“ The psychological fact of suggestion is the fact that if statements are made again and again in a confident manner, without argument or proof, then their hearers will tend to believe them quite independently of their soundness and of the presence or absence of evidence for their truth. More particularly will his hearers tend to accept the suggestions of a speaker if he has what we may call 'prestige'—the acknowledged dignity of authority possessed by Cabinet Ministers, bishops, prize-fighters, successful authors, and other famous men.
An orator using the method of suggestion relies, then, on three things: (1) repeated affirmation, (2) a confident, insistent method of speaking, and (3) prestige.”
“Pre -digested thinking, The majority of men, however, will have none of these complications. They feel that they have mastered the matter when they can reduce such a complicated body of knowledge to a simple formula with all the qualifications, distinctions, and uncertainties left out.”
We tend to think wrongly not so much because we do not know the laws of logic as because there are obstacles in our own minds which make us unwilling to think straight on certain subjects. These are our 'prejudices'
The author describes thirty eight dishonest tricks which are commonly used and the methods of overcoming them.
“For the mind everything is crooked, not because everything is crooked – the way the mind looks, anything that penetrates the medium of the mind becomes crooked. Just as you put a straight thing into water, a straight staff, and suddenly you see the medium of the water has done something; it is no more straight. You bring it out of the water; it is again straight. Put it in again...
And you know that the staff remains straight even in water, but your eyes still say that it is not straight. A hundred times you can bring it out and put it in. Even if you know well that the staff remains straight, the medium will again give you the false information that it is no more straight.
You have known many many times that the misery is created by the mind, but again you fall a victim. Mind creates misery. It cannot create anything else because it cannot encounter reality. It can only
Dream – that is the only capacity for the mind. It can only dream. And dreams cannot fulfill, because whenever they come against the reality they are shattered. You live in a house of glass, you cannot face reality. Whenever reality comes your house is shattered, and many houses you have lived in are shattered. You carry their ruins in the mind, the anguish that resulted. And that has made you very sour, very bitter.
Taste anybody and you will taste him bitter. And that is the experience of others about you also: everybody tastes bitter. Come closer and everything goes bitter; remain distant, everything looks beautiful. Come closer, everything goes bitter – because when you come closer, minds penetrate each other and everything is crooked, then nothing is straight.
This has to be realized as your experience, not as a theory from me. Experienced, it becomes a truth – and then many things start changing, then you drop the mind. And when the mind drops, all worlds disappear. When the mind drops, objects disappear; then they are no more objects. Then you don’t know where you end and where things start, then there are no boundaries. Boundaries disappear.”
Don’t ask why the pine trees
in the front of the garden
are gnarled and crooked.
they are born with
is right there inside them.
“It is a very significant statement. You see the tree -- a pine tree or any tree which is not straight for any reason. Circumstances may not have allowed it to be straight, or perhaps the gardener did not want it to be straight, but in the innermost being of the tree the possibility of being straight is still there.
This is exactly the case with you all. Whatever you have become, however far you have gone from your natural potential, it does not matter. Your buddha remains within you. Your straightness remains within you. You can come back home any moment you decide with totality and utter urgency. Nothing can prevent you.”
Mulla Nasruddin’s son was entered into the school. The teacher was talking about geography and she talked and explained the shape of the earth and everything. And then she asked Mulla Nasruddin’s son,
”What is the shape of the earth?”
He remained silent, so just to provoke his answer she said,
”Is it flat?”
The son said, ”No.”
She became more hopeful; she said,
”Then is it a globe, round-shaped?”
Nasruddin’s son said, ”No.”
Then she was surprised. She said,
”Only two are the possibilities: either it is flat or it is global, and
you say no to both. So what is your idea?”
The son said, ”My Dad said it is crooked!”
1. STRAIGHT AND CROOKED THINKING - ROBERT H. THOULESS ( READER IN
EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE)
3. Hsin Hsin Ming: The Book of Nothing - Osho