Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Humans Are Like Snowflakes

I can't recall if I've mentioned this before, but I prefer to think of humans as like snowflakes. All snowflakes are made of the same thing -- water. But each snowflake is shaped differently, so that no two flakes are precisely alike. In the same way, isn't it true enough that all humans share in a common human nature, but that no two of us manifest that nature in exactly the same way?

We all share something in common, and yet we are all unique. And therefore, I have often thought that many political ideologies misrepresent us, because they either over-emphasize our commonality, or they over-emphasize our individuality. They either pretend there are no significant differences between people -- and we can all be treated as interchangeable cogs in a social machine -- or they pretend there are no significant commonalities between people -- and we must be treated as rugged individualists who can at best barely tolerate living in a community. Where in either extreme is there realism?

That humans are unique individuals sharing in a common nature is not a paradox to me but merely a summary description of what seems most obvious about us.

8 comments:

Nita said...

I really liked what you wrote. Its clear that you like people. I do too..
I too think that we are all more alike that we realise. Our differences are superficial really but sufficient enough to make us all unique.

Patty said...

Sometimes you're quite flakey. Just like everyone.

Paul said...

I've noticed the older I get, the more I like people, Nita. Many years ago, I thought I might be happy as a hermit, but now I don't think that would be possible. I enjoy people too much.

The Gorilla Guys said...

Know what else is like snowflakes? The snow I'm looking at on my TV because my sat just went out. Damn.

amuirin said...

I'm melting, I'm melting....

Mahendra said...

Nice post!

Political ideologies are limited and constrained by the fact that they have to garner 'mass' support for their 'unique' ideology (mass and unique being in anti-thesis to each other).

This reminds me of the bipartisan American politics I had lamented about in my blog earlier.

And yes, it is not a paradox at all. After all, we're all Out of Africa, so there are tons and thousands of things common in all of us.

The elusive target is the 'realism' you allude to. That, I think, is the greatest politico-philosophical challenge of all times!

Paul said...

Gorilla Guys, Welcome to my blog! If your TV had to go on the blink for you to visit, then I'm siding with the TV -- glad to see you here!

Mahendra, that seems to me a very important point you make about all of us being out of Africa. It gives the lie to notions that the various races evolved independently of each other.

Mahendra Palsule said...

Don't tell me you haven't read my post: http://mahendrap.wordpress.com/2007/08/06/were-all-out-of-africa-2/.

Read the comments as well, for more clarifications.