iSoul In the beginning is reality.

Tag Archives: Story

Million-dollar parable

You’re broke. You don’t have enough the pay the rent at the end of the month. If your car breaks down, you can’t afford to have it fixed. Your bank account is almost empty. You’re at the end of your rope.

Then an old friend stops by, someone you knew in school who happens to be very wealthy. He says he heard you’ve been having a hard time so he went to your bank and deposited a million dollars in your name. You can hardly believe it. You thank him and he leaves.

Then you start wondering, Is this for real? So you go down to the bank and ask for your balance. The clerk gives you a slip of paper with the balance and, sure enough, it says there’s a million dollars there. You take that slip of paper home and keep it with you. Sometimes you take it out and read it to remind you this is for real.

It starts to sink in and you tell others what happened. You think of all the things you can do with the money now. You can take your family on a vacation. You can pay for your kids to go to college. You can even give some money away.

You keep in touch with this old friend — after all, friends like this are good to have. You thank him every time you meet. You tell others about this friend’s generosity and how you didn’t earn a penny of it. You’re very thankful that your life has turned around.

This changes your life but it didn’t have to. You could have told your old friend, I appreciate your concern but I believe in earning my own way in this world — I don’t want to be dependent on anyone else. Thanks but no thanks.

Or you could have gone down to the bank and told them, There’s been a mistake — take that million dollars off the account. You don’t want it, you don’t need it, you’re not going to keep it.

Either way, the gift is for you. The million dollars is put on your account. Your finances are secure — unless you reject this gift. And if you keep it, your life will be changed.

Histories and stories

If all entities were completely identical, they could not be distinguished from each other so there would be only one entity.  If all things were completely unique, they could not be identified so there would be no knowledge.  Since neither of these extremes is the case, we conclude that entities contain sufficient similarity to be classified and sufficient differences to be identified.

Classification calls out similarities among entities and groups them together.  Identification calls out differences among entities and separates them from each other.  Entities in some classes will have much in common and differences will be few or low-level.  Entities in other classes will have some properties in common but differences will be many or high-level.  Call the former kind of class homogenous classes and call the latter kind of class heterogeneous classes.  Broadly speaking, histories are about heterogeneous classes and sciences are about homogeneous classes.

The greater the heterogeneity of a class, the greater the difficulty is in making a prediction about members of the class that are yet to be identified.  Predictability in this case comes down to the question of whether a class is homogeneous or heterogeneous.  It may be doubted whether there are any absolutely heterogeneous classes because in order to be a class, there must be some commonality.  However, one could also say that there are no absolutely homogeneous classes because in order for the class to have identifiable members, there must be some heterogeneity.

Lawlike propositions concerning homogeneous classes that make successful predictions about members of the class not yet identified constitute scientific theories.  There are two basic kinds of such theories, depending on whether or not the predictions are about individual members of a class or about aggregate properties of members of a class.  The former are natural sciences and the latter are statistical sciences.

“Storylike” propositions are storylines or the like that connect members of heterogeneous classes.  These differ from lawlike propositions in that they focus on differences rather than similarities.  The criterion for a successful storylike proposition is meaningfulness.  They connect diverse entities in a meaningful way.  The more meaningful a proposition is, the more successful it is.  One way to determine meaningfulness is via how many and how varied are the entities that are connected.  The greatest storylike proposition would connect the most diverse entities; indeed it would connect the whole universe in one storyline.

There are two kinds of histories depending on whether individual members of classes are connected or whether aggregate groups of members are connected.  The former are individual histories and the latter are aggregate histories.  Social, political, and economic histories are types of aggregate histories and biographical histories are types of individual histories.

Are histories and sciences dichotomous or is there a way to combine them together?  They are essentially different and so should not be expected to be integrated into one.  However, they may be compatible so that the lawlike propositions of sciences do not interfere with the storylike propositions of histories and vice versa.  In fact, it should be a criterion of success that lawlike propositions are compatible with histories and storylike propositions are compatible with sciences.  However, if there is incompatibility, one should not be allowed to dominate the other, as has happened with sciences dominating histories.  This puts too much of a premium on similarity at the expense of diversity.

2009

It Could Happen

NEW YORK, 2024 JUL 14. President of the Nations Jack Lever gave his State of the World speech to the United Nations today. President Lever began by listing his accomplishments in the past year. These included making the United Nations’ currency, the Uno, the sovereign currency of every country. Switzerland, the last hold-out, turned over it’s franc in May. He also stated that world unemployment was at the same level it was before the World Depression of 2010-2018. While he acknowledged that the world economy still needed redistribution of wealth, he said that much progress had been made.

President Lever then outlined the challenges he sees ahead. First was ending the epidemics that spread during the World Depression. Next was having the World Curriculum that was completed last year instituted in the schools of every nation. Third was bringing unity to the religions of the world.

He stressed the importance of the third goal even though the first two might seem more pressing. “The goal of world unity will not be achieved without religions reconciliation,” he said to the delegates who gave him a standing ovation. He went on to say “Each of the great religions of the world must become unified before world religions can unite.” President Lever said that as a Christian he was particularly interested in the unity of the Christian Church. “In the spirit of Constantine the Great, I am calling all church leaders to an ecumenical council of reconciliation.” he said.

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