Why is it we understand things better in comparisons?

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As human beings we are aware of time, and we think in terms of past present and future. I have become very interested in the idea of human intention. We have the ability to recognize patterns from past experiences and understand cause and effect; therefor we often modify our environment with intention to reach a desired result. However, despite our ability to change or manipulate our environment with intention, we also change things we are unaware of. Sometimes these accidents or byproducts of our intended actions are interesting and wonderful. Sometimes they are dangerous, like how the extinction of one animal will effect the whole food chain. However, one thing is the same, they are unpredictable. They say it is a good human quality to be able to adjust to the changes in ones plan and to continue without feeling as though the intention has been compromised. If an actor misses a few lines in a play, it’s best to simply, “go on with the show.” Perhaps we even incorporate the accident into the plan, including it as part of our intention, bringing attention to it and making it intentional. Thus we are going back and changing again what we have changed, but was not an intentional change. An example might be using a pair of scissors to cut a strait line and for some reason the paper doesn’t cut but is bent and ripped in an undesired way. There are many options; new paper, re-cut the bent paper, call it art, see it as a sign you were not meant to cut the paper at all and do something else. All of these options having interesting meaning, and I am particularly interested in the last. Seeing unexpected results as signs from a greater ‘one’ is one way in which we explain the unexpected and the unknown. Despite our scientific minds and our amazing ability to predict and explain how the world works, there still remains the unknown. Our attempt to find answers can be seen in all kinds of fascinated things like, magic, metaphysics, fate, astrology, Christianity and much more. These answers imply the existence of another reality, something intangible that has the ability to effect the tangible world. I think this creates a fascinating result for each individual. Every person is two things, a body and a soul. The soul is eternal and the body is temporary. The relationship between these two aspects of the individual in terms of intention is what I find intriguing.

In the act of thinking about issues of the human body, I could not help finding myself in binary oppositions. I was defining things in twos. Such as boy and girl, heaven and earth, chaos and harmony left and right. Thus I see all of the work I do with the body about balance and symmetry. However, just like with the body there is the flip side of the coin. While we do have left and right symmetry, but we are not symmetrical top and bottom nor front to back. Yet we choose to focus on the aspects of symmetry in the body, beautiful people have symmetrical faces. Perhaps it is our desire to find pattern and therefor be able to predict our environment. We can understand the mirror effect of the symmetry in our bodies, and choose to focus on it in the individual. In order to understand the other parts of the body, we must have two people and compare. Why is it we understand things better in comparisons?

So, what am I going to do this semester? I am going to start by researching archaeology. I think this is a human activity which is based on some of the ideas I find interesting. Man is studying the remains of his own past and placing it in an elevated position. The activity of going back into the earth to carefully remove and restore items that have lost their function and now are visual evidence or records of past intentions. In addition man is using his body as a tool while searching. It is thinking of the body as a tool, a vessel, or pet with which we are able to realize our ideas that I will study.


  1. An introduction to Archaeology by Lesley and Roy Adkins
  2. Chaos and Harmony, Perspectives on the Scientific Revolutions of the Twentieth Century by Trinh Xuan Thuan
  3. A User’s Guide to the Brain by John J. Ratey, M.D.