Sunday, February 12, 2006

Life as an abstraction.

Our lives are lived fully but it's in the nature of the mind to only remember the major points. If we had all of our past available all of the time we most probably wouldn't be able to function. So memory records it all but only the major parts tend to be available. A typical day is remembered in the short and medium term for us to refer back to but as the days go on the ordinary things become less and less important and is more or less forgotten. After a week or so we don't need to know what we had for lunch on any particular day - unless it happens to be important for some particular reason. Over the months more and more of the ordinary things are forgotten and only the more important go into long term memory. What I did at ten a.m. last Tuesday isn't sigificant to me - although it may have been at the time. What I did the first week of last month has already been relegated to the unimportant and forgotten. The important items like I booked an international flight is preserved in short, medium and long term memory - it's useful, I need to keep refering back to it. The process of sorting through and only saving the salient parts is automatic. The reduction of a lifetime of activities is an abstraction. So we abstract out a long line of memories to becomes an abstraction of an abstraction of an abstraction. When we look back over our lives we see only the abstracted parts and that forms what we call our history - our life. Government statistics are a good example of abstractions. The major points of interest of our lives, to the government are what they need to run the country. Births, deaths, road fatalities, revenue/taxes and expenses - to mention a few. Our entire lives become a few numbers in a computer. We are abstracted down to a few points and that's it. But in our own minds we regard our history as an accurate record. When it's seen that this history is only a very thin slice of what actually happened, and a biased one at that, then it's significance is little more than a dream especially after self realization and it's known there isn't and never was an individual entity occupying the body - in control of things.

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