Real life is never precise and neither is the world we live in.

Still, there’s a powerful temptation to believe that the search for #clarity must always trump the muddy experience of real life.

I’d like to suggest that this can make you crazy.

Like this:

Aristotle noticed that carpenters and mathematicians have entirely different interests in triangles.

Looks innocent enough, right?

On the perfectly-clear side, you can know a lot about triangles.

For instance, you can know that the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. Clearly.

If you're a mathematician.

But what if you're a carpenter?

Carpenters make triangles all the time, but they know that no triangle, in the physical world, can ever be a perfect, mathematically precise triangle.

You cannot cut perfectly straight lines with a circular saw… or even a laser.

Amusingly enough, this blurred boundary between mathematics and carpentry drove the Pythagoreans crazy.

Think about it:

* if I get some plywood and cut out a right triangle, two sides of which have a length of 1 foot, say, that would mean the length of the hypotenuse would, mathematically speaking, be the square root of 2.

Now, since the square root of 2 is an irrational number that goes on forever, you’d have to ask yourself whether that edge of the plywood goes on forever.

It doesn’t, of course.

Weird to think about, though... 

All you can do is — and here’s the 3d+ punchline — ➡️ get close enough.

Embrace the blur between theory and practice.

In the real world, getting close enough works out fine. Triangles, and everything we can know about them, are terrifically handy when it comes to building things in the physical world, but any expectation that the world can provide theoretically, mathematically perfect triangles will, over time, make you crazy.

So what’s the myth hypotenuse here? 

The Hero’s journey of ➡️ #Sceptik, is a structural solution based on the data we had available—primarily the works of logics and the tons of studies done after the first email was created.

It’s a terrifically useful way to understand structures in the real world (in your own life, for instance) but, like that plywood, can we expect that our lives will fit his theoretical model perfectly?

That’s the blurred boundary between Sceptik’s theoretical model and the lived experience exposed - it can help clarify.

But again, there’s a danger of letting the craving for clarity drive us crazy. 

So you must see the crazy clear line to finish somehow alive the journey.

When we lose track of that blurred character, theories become ideology—nothing but a set of totalitarian prescriptions. Like happening now in real systems which are unclear and unhealthy.

The moral of the story is that we’re all tigers, but we think we’re goats. 

This is a wonderful way to understand the discontinuities in life, to explain the blurred boundaries between who we think we might be, who we might still be without knowing it yet, and who we turn out to be in real life.

But if you turn this into some kind of theorem (like Pythagoras’s), the clear lines suddenly become sharp enough to cut itself to pieces: I mean, if we’re all tigers, there wouldn’t be anything to eat. No more goats.

Taken as mere theory, #IT becomes problematic. That’s one indication that a theoretical model is beginning to rub up against reality. 

The attempt to make boundaries utterly clear and concise lands you in trouble or, if you push it, can even get you crucified.

Hitting a boundary layer like this is a reminder to treat all as relational narratives and not algorithms, as signs pointing beyond themselves and not as maps, as ➡️ useful suggestions waiting for your own experiences to validate them and not as dogmas, the fossilization of thought. 

As frustrating as this can be, it’s a sign of mental health. Embracing the blurry boundaries in life turns out to be required for an authentic life, one that depends on recognizing the relative truths provided by clarity and ambiguity and how, across a blurred boundary, theory and practice can inform one another.

  • Pretty geeky stuff right?

Look around, #IT's all over the place now! 

😉 But thanks for reading along.