Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

“Objective” “Reality” ?

Originally posted on April 30, 2016

I do not wish to quibble over the fact that our thinking refers to a past event, but I would note that two perfectly sincere people who in addition like each other remember the past differently, This happened not because it was in the past so much as the fact that remembering derives from mental processes that are so determined by a multiplicity of variables so as to almost ensure that any two people won’t remember exactly the same thing! This is so even if the memory refers to even only a moment earlier. Neither is probably insincere or lacking in assessment—or may I say, both could well be equally mentally agile—but rather the reason is that every sensory input has to get by "conditioned interpretation."

Indeed, what goes into “conditioned interpretation”? The term refers to the way the mind is set up by past experiences to interpret all experience. We still live in an era when most people don’t seem to fully recognize that what I saw or distinctly heard you say is “conditioned” bay all life experience, and the receptivity or set of perception is similarly conditioned—not only passively, but also by various sets of motivation. One set, for example, is the unconscious selection of what is perceived so that it fits in with expectations, political implications, etc. Indeed, this extends to all of life!

Compare memories with your kids. They may remember some things, but the details will differ. Some things they won’t remember at all. Maybe it was you who confabulated it. We let these different impressions slide in the desire to maintain relationships, be courteous, and also it’s not clear if you or they faltered in their memory. Everybody does this. It’s the far end of a dynamic called “confabulation,” an unconscious human tendency to make up stuff, fill in gaps. This dynamic happens all the time to all people at a low level. We overlook it because most of the time it doesn’t matter much.

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