Certainty is Not Biologically Justifiable. I’m Sure About That.

Pattie’s comment to my last post springs from our musings about Mystery on the one hand and, on the other, the up- and down-sides of Certainty.

For an advance hint of which side I favor, let me describe a cartoon I saw in the office of one of a (battalion of) therapists I’ve consulted over the millenia.

Visual:  Person with head in a vice.
Caption:  “The way I look at it, what I lose in freedom I gain in security.”

Certainty conveys self-command, confidence, and power.  (Doesn’t that sound enticing?  It does to me – so let me hurry up and add:)  Certainty also results in a narrowing of vision, an excluding of possibilities and options and choice.  It further seems that, operationally speaking, certainty requires a vigilance that I find tiring to contemplate.

What’s more, there is a ton of compelling data to support neuroscientist Robert Burton’s forthright assertion that “[c]ertainty . . . is not a biologically justifiable state of mind.”

Now I like knowing stuff as much as (probably more than) the next gal.  A lot can be known, with a fair degree of certainty.  Still, when conversing with cats, it seems more prudent to assume the unknown.

Take Oscar the Cat.

Gerontologist David Dosa, M.D., has written an engaging little book called Making Rounds With Oscar.  Oscar is one of several cats living at a senior facility in Providence, R.I.  Dr. Dosa reports that Oscar, and Oscar only, has cultivated an unerring sense of when residents enter the final dying process – at which time he invariably commences vigil.  His diagnostic powers are so solid that Dr. Dosa has come to rely on him for when to reassure family-members that they may safely take a break from the loved one’s side, and when to recommend that they remain for the final passing.

It’s a touching story for many reasons.  Not the least of which is that despite Dr. Dosa’s status as an M.D. – a subspecies well known for their enjoyment of certainty – he nevertheless acknowledges the ultimate mystery he finds at the bottom of Oscar’s uncanny abilities.

I put my money on Mystery, in most things but especially where conversing with Bugs is concerned.  I want to persuade you, too, to make that investment with me.  In this pervasively opinionated, corrosively divisive atmosphere on which we’re choking these days, I want your company.  In most things, but especially where Bugs is concerned.  My argument in favor will be forthcoming, next post.

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About nadbugs

Anita loves cats. This must be because she, too, has had nine lives. She’s been dancing since she could walk, she was a commercial artist and advertising producer, she earned a third-degree black belt in Aikido, she is a drummer with the Afrique Aya Dance Company, she is an attorney, and she’s a meditator and a devoted student of Nonviolent Communication. She also spent one lifetime sidelined with a devastating back injury in 1992. Since then – FELDENKRAIS METHOD® to the rescue. The FELDENKRAIS METHOD is all about dreaming concretely – thinking intelligently and independently by way of a gracious and kind physicality. The work affords all who study it a process by which to reach, with movement, into the mind and the heart, to make nine lives into one whole being.
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One Response to Certainty is Not Biologically Justifiable. I’m Sure About That.

  1. Pingback: Knowing What We Don’t Know | catself

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