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Towards the Dynamic Art of Partial Comprehension

Shadows, shades of gray and wabi sabi
comprehension as impermanence and mindlessness
Probabilistic worldview
Partial comprehension
Imperfect comprehension
Requisite incomprehension
Comprehensive patterning of comprehension and (im)perfection

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Annex B of Living with Incomprehension and Uncertainty: re-cognizing the varieties of non-comprehension and misunderstanding (2012)


Shared binary commitment: Curiously, and as illustrated by Catholic commentary on the Galileo Affair (main paper), science and religion share a profound commitment to binary logic. This takes the form of truth/falsehood, right/wrong, correct/incorrect, believer/nonbeliever, etc -- as variously interpreted. Shades of gray are condemned. This commitment is evident in the military operations they variously reinforce -- in the distinction between friend/enemy, or victory/defeat, and the very nature of launching missiles against targets. As profit/loss, the latter pattern permeates commercial marketing and foreign policy, as previously discussed (Us and Them: Relating to Challenging Others, 2009; Enhancing Sustainable Development Strategies through Avoidance of Military Metaphors, 1998).

Ironically this logic is applied by religion to science and by science to religion -- with little evident capacity to reframe their relationship fruitfully. For religion, unbelief in divinity is highly questionable as a form of incomprehension, and even worthy of the severest condemnation. For science, such belief is a manifestation of incomprehension of the truth of evidence-based methodology, and similarly worthy of the severest condemnation.

Aesthetic subtlety: Equally curious is the manner in which each of these values aesthetic dimensions, somehow distinct from the binary preoccupations. Religions reinforce the significance of their insight through artistic expression, whether in painting, architecture or music. Beauty and elegance are variously celebrated by the sciences, notably the natural sciences. The military celebrate their values through music, pomp and ceremony. Strategies may be valued as elegant. In the case of the military, a curious insight into (in)comprehension is achieved by Chris Hedges (War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, 2002), most recently in the aesthetic coherence of the attitudes of combat soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan -- in relation to the killing of 16 Afghan women and children by a US soldier who "cracked" (Murder Is Not an Anomaly in War,, 19 March 2012).

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