Monday, September 29, 2014

On humans and hierarchies

There’s been this sort of interesting idea kicking around in my head that essentially the only judgments humans can make without needing a cultural reference to back it up is whether a thing is good or bad. Indeed whether a thing is good or bad is often what many descriptions boil down to. A critical review my expound on the myriad factors involved in a work, but ultimately these factors fall upon a dividing line of good or bad.

Once we get to comparative judgment our tools only become slightly more complex: we place objects as greater or lesser than their peers. We might organize one object as more in one aspect and less in another, but the result is still the same. This cup is larger than that cup. This cup is more orange than that cup.

It is through this means that humans create hierarchies or structures of existence. It’s a habit that is as close to universal as behaviors come, and can be seen across time and place and across subject, whether it’s a manga placing its characters on a number line of relative strength or Catholicism determining the importance of angels by their distance from god or a bored student arranging her writing utensils from order of shortest to longest.

Why is this so important to humans? Are we destined to be the universe’s organizers, to find and categorize all living or nonliving things? The irony is palpable, as all things are merely extensions of one continuous object.

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