The mind’s only limit is structure
By Joshua Elmore/The Guardsman
The philosopher Immanuel Kant says that our view of the world is developed by experiences with it. Johann Herder then said that there are set variations of experience based on the universal characteristics and limits of the human mind.
This means that interpreting the world around you is based on the collection of general experiences we all share. What we experience comes from the external world in a relatively standardized fashion (for instance, our environment is relatively predictable; objects fall down, not up.)
Because we can predict things, we have a fairly standard way of interacting with the world. In other words, our actions as humans, while varied, are actually very similar.
Most cultures have a standardized school curriculum that promotes the ideas they deem important for their people. Standardizing an already anatomically and genetically standardized species raises some interesting questions.
No doubt a standard understanding of the world makes for a much easier process for communicating with others; it’s like speaking the same language.
But what does that mean for developing new ideas?
If there were 10,000 schools of thought, then humanity would have a much broader perspective on the universe.
As it is hard enough to have developed the relatively few ideologies taught to our species, are those few ideologies what contribute to Herder’s limits of the human mind?
There are a variety of unique aspects to the human character, and like all other things on Earth, nothing is exactly same.
We spend an immense amount of time passing on our beliefs to younger generations, shaping their direction and effectively boxing in their perspective, which mirrors or at least resembles that of those teaching.
While we are all born differently, we spend 18-plus years participating in long, strenuous and mandatory educations.
I am not belittling education; obviously as a student, I believe learning is important. How else would I be able to critically think on this subject?
Still, has attending class made me more or less likely to be able to truly work outside of convention and established thought to contribute to anything more than a step further in thought?
Albert Einstein dropped out of school as a teenager. Years later, with no advanced degree, he developed the theory of relativity, a fundamental theory in physics.
The more our understanding of the world becomes homogenized, the better humans can communicate. But such an approach will surely slow the progression of novel ideas.
We must find a comfortable middle ground where communications between ideologies are simply understood while allowing the concepts behind them to diversify. This way, we might just work around the limit of mind Herder spoke of.