Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Understand the Context

"I understand you": when you say this, what do you mean?

Does it mean I get the meaning? Actually this is a superficial level of understanding. The real understanding comes when you can place a meaning in the proper context. So, "I understand you" means that I am able to place what you say in proper context.In fact, an intelligent wife would prefer "I understand you" to "I love you". Anybody listening?

If that be so, then shouldn't we be practising 'placing meaning in proper context'?
You need not wait for an emotionally charged moment to practice this.
You should be able to practice this when you are carrying out mundane activities such as reading.


Consider this first sentence from GEB by Hofstadter (I could have picked up any sentence, but this is the book I am reading currently, so ...)

Frederick The Great, King of Prussia, came to power in 1740.

On reading this sentence perhaps you recalled who Frederick was? Or which area was once called Prussia? Perhaps, because you are reading this blog, you quickly check up the Wiki. And you are done. But that is not placing the sentence in context. That is just gathering particular information, not contextual information.

What about 1740? What was happening in Europe around 1740? What was happening around the world? What was happening in India?

Ah! Now you understand.

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