I’ve come to a grand conclusion that there is exactly one ongoing debate in the world. Don’t ask me what I’ve been smoking.
This debate gets reframed to suit different contexts. The ebullient young students debate on “Determinism vs Free Will“. The mature social scientists and academics call it “Nature vs Nurture“.
If neither rings a bell to you, these are debates that attempt to explain our realities. I say “attempt” because much of our understanding of the world is through the languages we invented ourselves. So as much as English— the language I chiefly think and write in, explains the world to me, it also obscures the things it has failed to identify. Words can only explain events in a linear fashion. But, in the complex world, linear events are rare. Language both liberates and traps us in this ongoing debate.
These debates try to explain events at the individual, societal and universal level.
Why are you good at painting? Is it because you inherited artistic genes from someone perched high up in your family tree? Or, is it because you practise painting more than the average Joe?
Why aren’t enough women into coding? Is it because women’s biology determines what they are interested in? Or, is it because patriarchy nurtures the vocation they eventually get interested in?
Why is the earth the only planet in the solar system that supports life? Is it because an unknown force pre-determined its existence? (Something we call God)? Or is it because earth is one incredible outcome of a random chain of events?
Call me a reductionist, but I’m the type of rationalist who suffers from finding absolute reasons to explain events. I need some method to tackle the madness behind the complex world.
How much you know about the world limits your reasoning capabilities. It’s insulting to rationalists to be told that there are other forces at play beyond their knowledge. To them, everything that happens boils down to a couple of known weighted factors that can be measured and predicted.
You might not have debated about it, or have even acknowledged the existence of other perspectives, yet many of you will readily attribute a specific set of reasons to why things are the way they are. This is important because this is how you and I derive identity. And identity is often far from the Absolute Truth. It is even far from yourself.
Oh! I can paint because I was born with this skill.
You see most women prefer spending an hour at Victoria’s Secret over learning tricks in CSS.
If it were not for god’s grace, how do you explain me surviving the hurricane that nearly killed everyone?
It has been hard to take a solid stand on this debate. One, as a true rationalist, I know there are many things that facts alone can’t explain. Two, if I do take a stand, it’ll most likely polarise me from other rationalists and strain even the scant social relations I have. So I have devised a convenient way of seeing things.
Reality is a story within a story like a Matryoshka Doll. As the future finds more things to explain the past, the reality of those who lived in the past is at best a delusion. So what one calls the Absolute Truth of one’s generation is the most successful delusion of their times.