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Thought and Language

Humans are not logical, humans think by making generalizations about observable patterns, and such generalizations need not be comprehensive; that is to say it is implicit that the generalizations are not intended to necessarily cover all cases.

Frequently, this means that humans hold to lore that while useful, might not be correct. But its usefulness extends beyond its value as an approximation, or a rule of thumb: it is useful because human languages makes it concise to communicate to other humans.

Generalization and Analogy

Fundamentally, patterns and generalizations are concise to communicate in human language because human language is based on the same principles - generalizations and analogies that are not intended to be either comprehensive in scope, or literal in application. For example:

"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree ..."

Humans will accept exceptions to rules, while maintaining that the rule still holds worth:

"... but he was definitely the black sheep of the family."

The same flexibility exists in all human languages and in almost all disciplines, short of some mathematics and philosophy - purely abstract universes that do not deal with the real world.

Even physics, chemistry and especially biology and linguistics have shorthands that are universally used in spite of being rife with exceptions and addenda: newtonian physics and thermodynamics were the building blocks of 19th century engineering, and yet they only apply well within particular limitations of scale - demonstrably they are not useless, but neither are they "right".

Limitations

That language is structured for communicative brevity rather than for precision is a hint that most thought works in the same manner, but it goes further than this.

There is a limit to the dynamic complexity of a system that a human can turn in their minds and correctly predict outcomes for in a fixed period of time. Given that humans are biological creatures operating in a complex and ever-changing world, generalizations are therefore crucial to survival, as a means to predict outcomes.

This extends even into hard sciences and other academic disciplines: there is no point modeling molecular fluid dynamics at a boundary layer when you only need to boil a pot of water.


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