Kitchen logic 4: Generalizations

It is so easy to be entrapped in generalizations.

But before I touch this danger, I have to make clear that generalizations play important discursive role. I certainly do not oppose Aristotle. And I do not want to oppose myself either since memes are enabling shortcuts (generalizations) for our mental apparatus; and I do not hide that memetic theory represents one of cornerstones of my thoughts. But then there are different types of generalizations.

Saying that  each human (man) has a brain can not be generalized as: “A Man (generalization of a man) has a brain”. A community of humans (generalization) has no brain. They might share memes, if we take memetics as valid, but such a generalization has no brain. I use term Man and not sinonim Mankind with purpose. It is much easier to make flawed generalization by using Man than by using mankind for the reason that the difference between man and Man is obscured by faking similarity while mankind is already intuitively discerned from man. When saying Man we refer to a generalization of men that in most cases do not exist.

If we say that the average IQ of all men is 100, this does not mean that a (specific) man that has (by chance) IQ 100 is an externalization of a Man. If we say that 2% of men are politicians this does not mean that I am 2% politician. If we say that rational numbers are equal (each of them is a part of community that can take place in mathematical equations like any other), we can not say that number 2 is equal to number 3. There exist a special value (quality) that is unique to “all numbers” – but this value can not be attributed to any specific number.

What we encounter more and more in public discourses even in so called “liberal western world” are flawed generalizations of some features of men, that can in fact not be generalized. Man (generalization) and men certainly have interest to eat and drink and have a shelter, but on another side we can not attribute a democracy (for example) to Man, but only to specific group of men. And even to that group of man a meme “democracy” represent a generalization that each member of that group will and has to understand according to his or her specific interests. A politician will understand democracy differently than an owner of a small bakery or a pregnant women searching for a kindergarten. We can attribute to Man only those interests that we share with the rest of the living world (food, shelter, …), but all interests that are specific for humans, can only be attributed to individuals, to man, and not to Man.

Immediately when human interest of larger entity than one person are addressed, we face populism and totalitarian inclination.

This does not mean that larger entities like family, company, club, city, State, United nations… do not have their interests. Of course they do. They have to be understood as living creatures with all properties including interest. But there is not a single interest that any community of men can share with any specific man. If the highest value of humanity is man, thus homonism, then the highest possible crime is committed when a state, local community, religious entity, or any other group of men steals and uses this individual interest as if it is a common interest.

Andrej Drapal