Confusion and What to Do About It


We don’t like confusion

The world is a mixture of confusing and not confusing

We seek to avoid confusion

Some of the confusion can be dissipated by thinking about it clearly.  

Not all, but some.


There are two classes of things to think about.  Things that are still confusing. And things that are no longer confusing.  This is a spectrum. But you can say there are areas of life that have been reduced to well-defined games and puzzles and areas of life that are not yet that clearly defined.  In the first area, the job is to win the game or solve the puzzle. In the second area either you could say there is no job and no game, or that the job or the game is to invent a game – to transform confusion into a well-defined, solvable puzzle.


So the members of the human race who are engaged in cognitive projects splits up roughly into two teams, depending upon which task they are shouldering.  One team is of those working to manipulate that which has already been clarified.  The other is that team which is still seeking to understand the still confused.  They are not adversaries but collaborators although sometimes (see below) they may get adversarial.  This btw is a confusion it is easy to fall into – the white and black players in chess from one point of view are adversaries, but if you take a step back you can see they are co-operating in the shared enterprise of playing chess.

Anyway, two groups.

We can call the first: the puzzle solvers, and the second the confusion peerers.

These two approaches end up expressing themselves in different ways.

At worse this can lead to mutual miscomprehension or even contempt.


The way of looking at things and the tools of intellectual management and interpersonal human relationship for someone who manipulates the already clarified is different when compared to that of the person who is preoccupied with peering into confusion.

To give an example: the confusion-peerer will always look to a fellow person’s error and ascribe it to mistaking what is confusing for what is clear. In contrast, the puzzle-solver, the person who looks at the already-clarified will think that those who make mistakes have simply failed to calculate correctly, to solve the puzzle correctly.  So while to the confusion-peerers the fundamental human error is lack of imagination, for the manipulators the fundamental human error is carelessness or laziness.

Ideally these two groups will both recognize that they are engaged in the same joint human enterprise and suspicion is unnecessary. Rather a spirit of natural goodwill and co-operation ought to come naturally as it does to those engaged in collaborating on an important worthwhile task.

However as civilization becomes more complicated the extremes of each group are ever further from each other.

So it is important to always try and clarify the evolving situation in a way that will be comprehensible by BOTH parties.

And in general as the human civilization becomes more ramified and specialized the jobs of communicator and bridge builders will become ever more critical.


My writing is from both sides of the human divide – it is simultaneously a clarification of the nature of the confusion-non-confusion relationship and an imagination of the depth of gap between the confusion and the non-confusion.  How confusing that gap is! That there could be two and not one!

At its extreme imaginative discourse is rhapsodizing.

At its extreme manipulative discourse is inhuman data flow.

One could argue that they are the same in being non-linguistic states of being: but one is high and one is low.


One thought on “Confusion and What to Do About It

  1. A wonderful rumination about some important subjects. It’s impossible in a short space either for you to develop your ideas adequately or for me to reply adequately, but this kind of thinking is what the world needs right now.

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