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Arbitrariness

As I get older, I more and more recognize (or suspect) the arbitrariness of social norms, laws, property rights, languages, standards of beauty, etc. So many patterns and decisions are clearly random, or grew out of historical accident by selection effect and consensus. They seem to be carved in stone. But if a chance fluctuation or mutation had gone another way many generations ago, they could have turned out completely different. Even the universal laws of Nature, such as the physical constants that show up in the equations for gravity and electromagnetism and nuclear forces, might have taken on their current values during fluctuations early in the cosmos. Maybe they could have been otherwise?

So whenever my eyes linger on a lovely face, or a hilarious incongruity makes me laugh until my eyes water, I really need to pop up a level and recall how fortunate we all are that such wonderful pleasures exist. And if my gall rises at an ad hoc clause in the tax code, I should shrug it off as just an unlucky roll of the evolutionary dice. Next time may be better!

(cf. OnConventions (2000-01-01), AntiAnthropism (2000-05-26), CoincidentalTaxonomy (2001-10-19), DepartmentOfRed (2002-01-09), FourthGradeTwerp (2003-02-01), Roses by Other Names (2004-02-01), ...) - ^z - 2013-02-17

I like this!