I’m a cis-male, white, Canadian, Discordian, electrician, Vancouverite, and a socialist. I’m also a person. All those labels are approximations. When you picture me, your concept of me becomes more accurate with each new label. But we all know it’s not accurate. To know someone in any significant way you have to get past those descriptors and talk to them. As humans, we love to define our ‘clan’ as opposed to the ‘others’. Then we can make assumptions about what the ‘other’ believes. Historically it’s blatant in the religious, racial, political, and cultural spheres (not to mention dangerous). It’s where all the unpleasant prejudices come from; the ‘other’ does this terrible thing and that silly practice. We lump them all together. We pigeon hole them. This isn’t simply a flaw in our clan like behaviour, it’s fundamental to our understanding of the world.
We describe the world using words. We can be more accurate if we use math and physics to describe it. A ball is thrown on earth and it follows a parabolic path which can be calculated accurately. We can do this because we understand Newtonian motion and gravity. Why does this work? The objects have mass and inertia which means gravity will affect them and they will continue to move until acted upon. But why? Why do they do that and not something else? The ancient Greek concept, while clearly wrong, illustrates my point succinctly. They said the ball “wanted” to fall towards the ground. Everything has a sort of will to act in a manner that matches what we observe through physics. That’s a silly idea, but we haven’t replaced it with anything. Gravity itself doesn’t explain why it acts, simply that it does.
There is a reason things happen as they do, a singular reason everything happens: the universe. As I stated elsewhere, everything we’ve thought up is our creation, including physics. The universe is as it is and it does as it does. You can’t define something without defining what it isn’t, so a singular, all encompassing entity is undefinable. You cannot understand the universe on the scale required to understand why it is. So we partition this singularity into sections that we can understand using linguistics. We pigeon hole it.
It’s a gross oversimplification of the boundlessly complex universe. And we do the same to the boundlessly complex human psyche. We have to though. It’s the only possible way for us to understand anything outside of ourselves. It’s practical; it’s efficient. It also makes it easier to hurt our fellow hominids.