Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Nobody who isn't Indian can understand Indians

This kind of logical claptrap is claimed repeatedly by practically every slice of humanity you can imagine.

Women say it to men, blacks to whites, Chinese to Westerners, Indians to Westerners.

It's a form of exceptionalism--my category is so exceptional you can't possibly understand it, you with your pathetic tiny experience of life.

But in order to claim that a member of group B can't understand a member of group A, that group B person is assuming that he understands group B well enough to know what they can and cannot know--exactly the crime he's accusing group B of when they speak about group A. Unless he feels that his group--group B--is superior to group A, such that group B understands both groups but group A only understands itself.

Either way it's a local trap. You can't tell someone else they can't understand you without assuming that you do understand them--so well that you can read their minds and know exactly what they do and don't understand.

It's arrogance pretending to be humility.

It's also splitterism. That is, people tend to be splitters or lumpers--splitters focus on differences, lumpers on similarities. So splitters see every culture, both genders, all races, as each being totally unique--lumpers, the opposite. Of course both extremes mask the confused muddle that's the truth.

Here's a physical analogy.

All of our organs are homologous with the other gender's organs. Homology means coming from the same source. Thus men's testicles and women's ovaries are homologous, coming from the same place in the embryo. Likewise bat wings, our arms and hands, whale's flippers, and fishes' pectoral fins are homologous.

And likewise every unique feature of every culture almost certainly has something like it in other cultures.

For example, in rice farming village cultures harmony is more important than justice, because it takes a whole village to cultivate rice. Whereas in wheat farming regions justice is more important than harmony because I don't need your help to farm wheat for the most part. But rice farmers certainly understand the concept of justice, and wheat farmers certainly understand the concept of harmony. They just prioritize them differently.

Every flame in my hearth is at least a glowing ember in yours.

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