To build on what Jack and Henry have been saying, in Women, Fire, and
Dangerous Things, Lakoff actually dismantles the myth of objectivism which
holds that categories are defined by the common properties shared by their
members. Even color categories that we tend to think of as universal are not
that standard apparently. One of the objectivism premises that Lakoff
rejects is quote: Though is atomistic, in that it can be completely broken
down into simple "building blocks"-the symbols used in thought-which are
combined into complexes and manipulated by rule.
About 10 years ago I was exposed to a object oriented methodology called SBM
for Solution Based Modeling, that attempted to build on this notion that
people reason in terms of categories which are then supposed to be
equivalent to classes (in software terms) but classes are defined by the
common properties of their members and human generated categories are not.
SBM didn't make it into the mainstream but it does have some very
Finally, here's a joke I received today that I think illustrates our debate
On the question of multiple points of view...
A lesson in understanding,
"FOREST GUMP IN HEAVEN..."
Forrest Gump dies and goes to Heaven. He is met at the Pearly Gates by
St. Peter himself. The gates are closed, however, and Forrest
approaches the gatekeeper. St. Peter says "Well, Forrest, it's
certainly good to see you. We have heard so many good things about
you. I must inform you that the place is filling up fast, and we've
been giving an entrance quiz for everyone. The tests are short, but
you need to pass before you can get into Heaven."
Forrest responds "It sure is good to be here, St. Peter. I was looking
forward to this. Nobody ever told me about any entrance exam. Sure hope
the test ain't too hard; Life was a big enough test as it was."
St. Peter goes on, "I know, Forrest, but the test is only three
What days of the week begin with the letter T?
How many seconds are there in a year?
What is God's first name?"
Forrest goes away to think the questions over. He returns the next day
and goes up to St. Peter to try to answer the exam questions. St.Peter
waves him up and says "Now that you have had a chance to think the
questions over, tell me your answers".
Forrest says, "Well, the first one how many days of the week begin with
the letter "T?"
Shucks, that one's easy. That'd be Today and Tomorrow."
The Saint's eyes open wide and he exclaims "Forrest! That's not what I
was thinking, but.....you do have a point though, and I guess I didn't
specify, so I will give you credit for that answer. How about the next
How many seconds in a year? Now that one's harder" says Forrest, "but
I thought and thought about that and I guess the only answer can be
Astounded, St. Peter says "Twelve! Twelve! Forrest, how in Heaven's
name could you come up with twelve seconds in a year?"
Forest says "Aw, come on, St. Peter, there's gotta be twelve, January
second, February second, March second...."
Hold it" interrupts St. Peter. "I see where you're going with it. I see
your point, though that wasn't quite what I had in mind, but I'll give
you credit for that one too. Let's go on with the next and final
question. Can you tell me God's first name?"
Forrest replied, "Andy." When St. Peter asked how in the world he came
up with the name Andy, Forrest replied, "You know, St. Peter, that
song we sing in church: "Andy (and He) walks with me, Andy (and He)
talks with me."
The lesson: THERE IS ALWAYS ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW, and just because
another person doesn't see things the same way or understand the same
way that you do, does not mean that it's wrong.......
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