Dead Wrong (A Tolerance for Ambiguity)
What is your level of tolerance for ambiguity?Ambiguity is a clunky, uncomfortable word, IMHO.Ambiguity means "open to more than one interpretation"Too vague?We all know the "Glass half empty VS Glass half full" scenario.AMBIGUITY, in this case, can be solved.If you began with a full glass of water, it is now "half-empty".If you began with an empty glass, it is now "half-full."Easy peasy.But that's not my question. What was my question?What is your level of tolerance for ambiguity?DO YOU INSIST ON ONLY ONE interpretation?Seeing the world as Black OR White ignores all the grayness in between.We have been brainwashed since childhood that everything in our world is EITHER / OR. (Note: funny enough, the Nelson Mandela quote is a basic statement too.)Black / White True / False Up / Down Life / Death etc.In a Court of Law, you must swear 3 things to give testimony.1. To tell the Truth2. The Whole Truth3. Nothing but the TruthWhy?To eliminate AMBIGUITY.The LAW cannot abide more than one final verdict/interpretation.The Judge and/or the Jury give an opinion (VERDICT)eliminating all alternative ways of seeing the facts.Judges, Courts, and Jury verdicts CAN BE IN ERROR. (O.J. Trial)Reality is mostly gray and open to opinions, bias, prejudice, intolerance.How you think, observe, and opinionate is largely the answer to the question: How much ambiguity can you tolerate?When I was one of Jehovah's Witnesses, I was taught there was only ONE WAY of interpreting Scripture: OUR WAY.I wasted 20 years of my life intolerant of ambiguity.This is why I daily ask myself over and over:HOW MUCH AMBIGUITY can I tolerate?What is at stake?I would assert it is impossible to make real choices, sane decisions, by being intolerant of the gray area.Is it easier? Yes. But, when you are wrong with matters of life and death, you are DEAD WRONG.
@Terry Walstrom - interesting question and interesting thread.
I would answer by saying that it very much depends on the context and on the topic about which there is ambiguity.
For instance, there is ambiguity among Christians about the nature of God (is He a Trinity or not). Doesn't matter to me - JWs, Catholics and others argue this crap all the time and no harm comes of it. Harmless nonsense that I don't have to be a part of.
Nothing is black or white (Nelson Mandela) - well, Mandela at one point in his life thought some things were black and white. Mandela was found guilty of planning, preparing or enabling terrorist acts against the admittedly unfair South African government of the time. However, no matter, he completed a lengthy prison sentence, saw the error of his ways and was rehabilitated back into society, never to offend again.
I gotta say that some things are black and white. Legally, I should be allowed to defend myself in my own home using any means possible against armed trespassers. If I defended myself using a knife, baseball bat or legally registered firearm I shouldn't have to worry about guaranteeing the safety and life of the armed intruder. Black and white.
This is why the issue of FRAMING a context for argument is the wheelhouse of the rhetoriticians.
Propaganda is largely a matter of framing which issues will be discussed and which are marginalized or ignored.
Jehovah's Witnesses put human salvation on the back burner by framing it in terms of an end result of SANCTIFYING the "Jehovah" brand name.
The Governing Body pretends to sidestep interpretation of Scripture by framing the issue in terms of OBEDIENCE and LOYALTY to God's duly appointed "slave."
The Matador and the bull.
Mostly, the bullshit.
Everyone utilizes black and white thinking to some degree.
If you step off the roof of a ten story building without something to defy gravity, you will fall to the ground.
If you are shot through the heart, you will bleed.
All airplanes in our atmosphere eventually land.
2 + 2 = 4
If you do not know the Japanese language, you will not be able to speak it.
If you don't breathe, you will die.
The claim “absolute truth does not exist” is either absolutely true or it’s not. But, of course, it can’t be absolutely true, since that would create a contradiction:
Since it cannot be absolutely true, without making the statement false, we must concede that there are some cases in which the proposition “absolute truth does not exist” must be false…in which case, we’re back to affirming the existence of absolute truth; or as you put it "black and white thinking."
This is an example of an absolute truth known apart from the empirical and scientific testing.
That's the problem with organized religion like the JWS, in that they strongly repel ambiguity ....... we are right, they are wrong and this pertains to not only to Christian theology but as well secularism. therefore we are the righteous ones.
........and being that Jehovah is going to evaluate your righteousness come the day of judgment of Armageddon, your best bet is to stick with us, his earthly chosen organization.
Perry - That is a silly semantic trick. It's like that game where you choose a number, double it, add another number, multiply it by something else etc etc and the result is always the same. It's only impressive if you don't understand algebra.
Your version depends on equivocation about the word 'absolute'.
Interesting OP Terry.
I read a science fiction story that asserted that humans have black and white thinking because we have two hands. On the one hand it is this, on the other hand it is that, quite literally. On another planet where people had eight arms and hands they were not at all black and white in their thinking. I thought it was a fun idea.
There is a trap.
Language creates it.
We use our senses to explore real things and our imagination
mocks up sensory sketches of those things--detailed sketches--so we can label our environs. Very useful when communicating with words.
There is--that trap, however.
We can confuse our sketch with the real thing.
My sketch and your sketch maybe don't quite match.
The innocent party may look like the guilty party and vice verse.
Semiotics is actually a rough sketch of reality USED like a police sketch artist does, to apprehend the suspect.
(We can all say "chair" and be confident. But there are thousands of different kinds--each distinctly different--within that concept).
The potential breakdown comes when we must INTERPRET.
"In 1972, when she was 22 years old, Vesna Vulović was working on a flight that was over the (now) Czech Republic when a bomb explosion in the baggage compartment caused the plane to break apart. The bomb was claimed by a Croat that was a member of a nationalist group, but no official confirmation has been made.
Vesna was the only survivor. She fell freely, without a parachute, from a height of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet). The impact got her many severe injuries (fractured skull and vertebrae, as well as broken legs). She also became partially paralyzed and went into a coma for almost a month. She fully recovered from these injuries though and switched to a desk job with the same airline.
Unlike many others who have been through such experiences, she hasn’t developed a fear of flying and has no issues watching movies with plane crashes.
In 1985, she was awarded the Guinness Record title for the highest fall without a parachute."
I cite the above example not to rebut your reasoning, only to represent the nature of "grayness" in outcome possible in black and white reasonableness.
As a former Jehovah's Witness, I make much more room for Black Swan events, singularities, and grant the wide berth to "impossibility" without going (I hope) too far in the process.
Religious thinking--when it is most confident in absolutes--is most (potentially) destructive.
The glass-half-full half-empty scenario is said to REPRESENT
Optimism vs Pessimism but it really is only partially true.
That is a convenient opportunity for analogy and doesn't
NECESSARILY mean anything even remotely connected to our
expectations about life in general.
The same amount of water cannot MEAN (essentially) anything connected to life in general by way of a sign or omen.
We FORCE interpretations.
Eisegesis and Exegesis are exercises of the mind both artificial
When employed with care, interpretation is one tool among many.
The Holy books are only what somebody INSISTS they are.
Bibles and Korans and such take on numinous power only if semiotic mumbo jumbo stuffs the turkey with glow-in-the-dark dressing...and a willing (prepared consciousness) is hungry and indiscriminate for the feast.
"Everything "is" and "isn't" at the same time"
"Opposites are identical in nature,yet different in degree"
If you are shot through the heart, you will bleed.
Not if you have been dead for 24 hours. Your blood would have congealed. An ambiguous statement. You should have said, while alive, if you are shot through the heart, you will bleed.