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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Lessons in Thinking for One's Self, No. 3

Part of learning to think for one's self necessitates acquiring yet another important skill: The fine art of Listening.

Why learn to listen? If our ears work fine there shouldn't be a problem, right? Perhaps if we lived in a perfect world, devoid of selfishness, subtlety and deceit. Since we don't it's best you pay attention. History is replete with examples of misunderstanding and the resultant chaos that followed.

Now, as to learning the fine art of Listening, first know that there are many aspects to consider. Call them nuances, if you will. Here then is an abbreviated list:

     Word Stress
     Word Usage
     Cultural Reference
     Historical Reference
     the popular Double Entendre
     Sarcasm - both Constructive & Destructive

...and the list goes on. The point is, as Miyamoto Musashi wrote:

"...to learn my Strategy...Know the Ways of all Professions"

This is especially true of Language & Understanding, for without these, there are no "Professions" beyond Hunter/Gatherer.

Let's look at one example before closing this lesson. Let's consider "Word Stress". In any given statement, it's true meaning and/or intent will change, often considerably, depending on which word is stressed. Consider the following sentence...

"I didn't say he killed his wife"

Stress the "I" and the speaker claims he didn't say... to imply someone else said some hapless [or not] Joe killed his wife.

Stress "Didn't" and it changes to a simple denial of having made the statement, "He killed his wife."

But stress "Kill" and now the statement implies "He" did [perhaps] something else to his wife. Perhaps the enigmatic "He" simply slapped his wife, which is a far cry from actually killing her.

But you get the point -- or should. Placing stress, or emphasis on a different word with each recitation will change the sentence's meaning. Again, often considerably.

Now you understand -- or should -- the importance of listening to what is being said. In fact, it's clear there's more to consider than just "What" is said, but we must -- and I can't stress that word enough -- MUST also consider "How" it is said.

There's more to come, rest assured. But for previous lessons, follow the links

Lesson No. 1
Lesson No. 2

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