Questioning assumptions

 

Some stories seem unquestionably true.

I am a man. A Norwegian citizen. Of a certain age. A human being. An object in the world.

My culture – and most or all cultures – would say these are true, so I take them as obviously true.

And yet, if I take a closer look at them, what do I find? Are they as obviously true as they first appeared?

I am Norwegian. When I look, I find that is only true in the most conventional and pragmatic sense. Everything in me is actually from somewhere else. My body is made up of molecules from food grown all over the world. My feelings come from my ancestors, going back generations and thousands and millions of years. My thoughts come from my culture, which in turn is influenced by other cultures and comes out of the cultures of generations and generations of ancestors, long before there was anything called Norway. All of this – my body, mind, world view – has evolved through thousands of generations of humans, and millions of generations of ancestors who were not human, all made possible through billions of years of evolution of this universe going back to the Big Bang. And the awareness that all of this happens within and as, where does that come from? I don’t know. But I am pretty sure it cannot be limited to Norway. Also, what evidence do I have that I am Norwegian? Only stories – including memories – and a passport. When I look, I find that the statement “I am Norwegian” is not so obviously true after all. In fact, it is not true at all, apart from in the most practical and pragmatic ways.

When I explore those other apparently obvious truths, such as my age, that I am a human being, or an object in the world, I find the same. What initially seemed so obvious, is not obvious at all. In fact, it may be true only in the most conventional and pragmatic of ways.

Each of us have a great number of such assumptions, including universal – and sometimes culturally dependent – stories that says I need to be loved, people should be fair, I need to be alive and so on.

Why take a closer look at these stories? Is it only a diversion, entertainment, an intellectual game? It can be much more than that, if done with some sincerity.

The other question here is: What happens when I take these assumptions as true? Who am I without them? How do I live my life if I didn’t have these beliefs?

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  • questioning assumptions
    • underlying assumptions
      • why
    • what seems most obvious
      • i am …. (human, norwegian etc)
      • the word is…. (real, out there)

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