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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Social Animal: #13--Metis

Metis: Part of us is rational and the other part unconscious. The French Enlightenment, with its insistence on the power of rational thought, and British Enlightenment, with its insistence on the power of the unconscious social sense, brought this duality to the fore. Think of Mr. Spock as the example of the French Enlightenment team’s hero and Homer Simpson as the British Enlightenment’s hero—operating primarily on impulses and emotions. Now, instead of thinking of them on different teams, consider how they’d be as roommates—the odd couple. What’s more, our memories are very inaccurate; however, we think they’re precise. Memory happens by reweaving bits of data from various segments of the brain. Each time we remember, we reweave things even if slightly differently and then put back that newly altered memory back into the vault. Moreover, our unconscious intuition is better at solving bigger, more complex problems, but the conscious is better at solving smaller and/or linear problems with less variables. The trick is not to rush to judgment. Rather, “wander” around or hold off judging, especially in complex situations, to allow the unconscious to talk sense into the conscious and vice versa. It’s a necessary dialog.

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