Cube or Globe?

If a blind man had learned to distinguish a globe and a cube from one another through touch and then he gained sight later in life, would he be able to tell the two a part by sight without first feeling the objects?  My point in bringing this up is not to tell you what the answer is.  What this problem demonstrates to me is perspective and subjective experience and how it actually does dictate our reality in powerful ways, down to the neurological level.  How does this apply to life generally and how to live?  Put simply, try to put yourself in the other persons shoes, do not be quick to judge, and understand that we can never truly understand or feel what another person understands or feels.  Conversely, we should not take offense where someone seems to be unable to relate to an opinion or perspective we have, if anything the lack of understanding is not so important compared to if they try to relate and we all must show forgiving for what will inevitably remain in the gray areas.

Describing well the ambiguity that exists in communication between individuals is the chill man himself, Jack Johnson:

“But it’s all relative
Even if you don’t understand
Well it’s all understood
Especially when you don’t understand
Then it’s all just because
Even if we don’t understand
Then lets all just believe”

-It’s All Understood


2 thoughts on “Cube or Globe?

  1. It has come to my awareness that even outside of religion, faith is universally important. Like you said, we can never truly understand another’s difficulties. Even the attempt at empathy– trying to see the world through their eyes is ultimately an impossibility because we are subject to our own brand of bias. When it all comes down to it you just end up believing that things are hard for them and you offer what you can to help.
    But to take the conversation a step further, doesn’t it seem interesting that we even feel persuaded in the first place to convince other people about empathy? I, like you, feel for some reason that the world collectively fails to understand the meaning of empathy– perhaps my knowledge of the subject is primitive, but all day I see people hypocritically condemning others for absolutely no apparent reward.
    It is easy to maintain a misanthropic perspective when you look out the window and see all the impersonal jerks running around.
    And yet, true empathy discards the notion of misanthropy, because on some strange level we perceive that these people just don’t know any better. And then there is the whole notion of self-righteousness; some people assume that their universal care elevates them to some kind of demi-god status because unconditional empathy is a social scarcity. To those people I feel just as sorry; empathy requires humility because we accept that there is much that we don’t understand.
    That was a rant.
    In summation, the ability to perceive life through the eyes of another requires humility. I think about something I heard a long time ago, it is roughly paraphrased: “Every living creature on the face of the planet knows something you do not.”

  2. I agree that you can never truly understand someone else as if you were looking at the world from behind their eyes. There will always be a basic existential separateness between yourself and every other human being that cannot be bridged by the powers of the psyche, heart, mind, or whatever you want to call it – not even close. And it takes humility to admit that and function well with the gray areas and the areas of misunderstanding.

    I also believe, however, that there is a form of “good enough” understanding between two people. Even among all the people who try to relate, there are those who can do it well enough to form a functional and satisfying relationships and those who, for whatever reason, can’t. Some don’t know any better, some were severely traumatized in early childhood, etc. And I’m sure there are many other reasons why this is the case that I don’t yet have a clue about. But I have experienced both realities (“good enough” understanding and “not good enough” understanding) and studied them professionally for a few years now, and I think the distinction matters – quite a lot.

    When you believe that “good enough” understanding exists, that you deserve to have it in your life, and that you can offer it to other people, your life can become incredibly more satisfying, happy and successful. It also requires that you make some tough decisions about who you will trust, who you will be close to, and who you will not. That process sucks, but it is completely worth it.

    That doesn’t take away the sting of the truths that no one will ever “truly” be able to understand you and we are each completely alone within our own minds. But “good enough” understanding allows for some of the sweetest and most important parts of human life.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s