The Sense We Make of Things
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The Sense We Make of Things • Posted: Nov 07, 2008 01:23:05Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

Making sense of the world we see before us is not an easy task. Most of us seek help at every turn.

Underlying any sense we do make of things are two cognitive processes. One, categories. And two, story or narrative. Categories allow us to break up the continuum of sensory input we experience. Story allows us to arrange those categorized chunks of sensory input into relationships that seem meaningful. People differ both on how many and what type of categories their minds readily employ and on their abilities to both fabricate and appreciate stories of useful or engaging content.

When people complain "Why can't he just talk in plain English?" they are really saying neither the categories or the narrative they are hearing make any sense. Conflicts arise when even serious discussion fails to align either the categories or narratives being employed. Relationships between people improve when both sides start to employ comparable categories and complementary narratives. Fear ensues when old categories and narratives fail to account for new developments. Disappointment results when even new categories and narratives fail to account for real world outcomes.

The world has not changed between what has been a Bush Presidency and what will be an Obama Presidency. What will change are the categories and narratives by which we will come to understand that world and our places in it. May that change prove to be both enlightening and substantively enriching for all of us.

Saturday, November 1st, 2008