Forget About The Known Unknowns, It’s The Unknown Unknowns That Get You Every Time

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There’s an old adage that stipulates “generals are always fighting the last war.” This says more about the stultifying effects of age and experience than it does about military acumen.

As we live our lives, we accumulate knowledge. We use this knowledge to provide convenient short-cuts when we make decisions. That’s a good thing.

But those short-cuts assume a certain kind of status quo that cannot exist. That’s a bad thing.

Since we’re on the subject of old adages, there’s one from ancient Greece which warns “you can never step foot in the same river twice.”

At first that makes no sense. Why, just about any GPS will lead you to the same river time and time again. You can even dip your toe in each and every occasion.

Ah, but is it really the same river? Has not the water you touched that very first instance traveled far down the river and probably emptied itself into some larger body of water?

You see, a river is like time. It is constantly moving. The only way to make it stand still is to Continue Reading “Forget About The Known Unknowns, It’s The Unknown Unknowns That Get You Every Time”

Are You an Instigator, a Skeptic, or Merely Somebody Else’s Tool?

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They say the world is made up of two types of people. They’re wrong. The world consists of three types of people, but two of those types get all the press.

Journalists like to frame issues in a binary fashion – one side against another. That’s simple. It’s black and white. It’s A versus B. Reporters don’t do this because they can’t handle the complexity of multiple opposing points of view. They structure their stories as a duel between competing interests because readers find those stories easiest to digest. The audience finds such pairings quite familiar. Literature is replete with examples: Ahab vs. Moby Dick, Sherlock Holmes vs. Professor Moriarty, and Bambi vs. Godzilla, to name a few.

It’s not just drama. Philosophy often has an attraction to complimentary combinations. We see this most markedly in the Taoist notion of “dualistic-monism” as expressed in the Continue Reading “Are You an Instigator, a Skeptic, or Merely Somebody Else’s Tool?”

You Can’t Go Home Again… Or Can You?

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20160806_130542“δὶς ἐς τὸν αὐτὸν ποταμὸν οὐκ ἂν ἐμβαίης.”

Heraclitus of Ephesus (535 BC – 475 BC) said this. He’s also the guy who introduced the term “Logos,” meaning “order” and “knowledge.” It’s more commonly referred to as “logic” and, together with Ethos and Pathos, represents one of the three modes of persuasion identified by Aristotle in Rhetoric (350 BC).

Oh, yeah, if you’re like me and can’t read Greek, Heraclitus’s quote translates to: “You could not step twice into the same river.” And therein lies our tale.

Oddly, I found inspiration for this Commentary while researching for my upcoming book Continue Reading “You Can’t Go Home Again… Or Can You?”

Mary Anne was Wrong! The Truth Behind Character and Destiny

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Pondering the meaning of character one evening, I stumbled upon the much quoted citation from George Eliot (whose real name was Mary Anne Evans) in her 1176484_94344918_novel_character_royalty_free_stock_xchng_300masterpiece The Mill on the Floss (1860): “Character is Destiny.” Curiosity getting the better of me, and knowing the exertion would prove effortless, I dug deeper to discover the full context of the quote. It revealed a wonderful irony. It also led to a deeper mystery.

Here’s what Mary Anne wrote:

“Character,” says Novalis, in one of his questionable aphorisms – “Character is Destiny.”

First, let’s get to the beautiful piece of irony. Ol’ Mary Anne apparently didn’t even like Continue Reading “Mary Anne was Wrong! The Truth Behind Character and Destiny”