You may have heard the saying, “Assume makes an ass of u and me.” Even Webster’s Dictionary defines assumption in a negative way. Sadly, as evidenced on many forums and comment boards on the internet, the negative connotation seems to hold true far too often. But assumptions are simply theories and are not only the cornerstone of learning but also of dialogue. It is not the theory that makes asses out of men but the absoluteness that is placed upon those assumptions creating gospel and rhetoric. Once that has taken place dialogue and growth are shut down.
“No theory is good unless it permits, not rest, but the greatest work. No theory is good except on condition that one use it to go on beyond.” –Andr
As children we almost immediately begin to make assumptions based on our experiences and as the number of our experiences increase our assumptions expand. This practice continues, hopefully,for our lifetime. Yet all too often we can see the wrongness that happens when we turn our theories into absolute belief: Bigotry, Racism, Fanaticism – the list is long. All serve to limit our growth not only personally but as humankind.
“The wise man regulates his conduct by the theories both of religion and science. But he regards these theories not as statements of ultimate fact but as art-forms.” -J.B.S. Haldane
Personally I have worked diligently, and still do, to remove absolute language from my world view. I fail at times and allow my passions to cloud my vision. But the same absolute thinking causes the same destruction when we apply it to ourselves. I am guilty of this most of all and have yet to remove this stifling language from my internal dialogue. I can see, logically, how it keeps me “stuck” and damages my ability to grow but I believe the emotional aspect of this type of thinking is difficult to overcome.
Leaving ourselves open to create assumptions without attaching emotional absolutes is a mountain that must be climbed, I believe, if we are to evolve both as individuals and as the human race.
“Creating a new theory is not like destroying an old barn and erecting a skyscraper in its place. It is rather like climbing a mountain, gaining new and wider views, discovering unexpected connections between our starting points and its rich environment. But the point from which we started out still exists and can be seen, although it appears smaller and forms a tiny part of our broad view gained by the mastery of the obstacles on our adventurous way up.” -Albert Einstein