Gradient Scales

Gradient Scales Infinity valued logic and the resulting concept of gradient scales is the most significant advancement in the history of philosophy and a fiction writer's best friend.

Aristotle -- bless his pointed head -- gave Western civilization two-valued logic.

His Yes-No, Right-Wrong two valued logic system (a.k.a. Dialectic) for analyzing everything sent Western civilization down a 2,000 year path that eventually lead to the assumption that there is no "right" or "wrong", there is no truth and nothing can be know about anything anyway.

This path is well documented in a series of some 52 books published by Britannica called "The Great Conversation". It is a collection of the greatest minds in western civilization starting with Aristotle and ending with Freud and chronicles their struggles to define and understand the most basic concepts from; Love, Truth, and Beauty to Life, God, Man and the nature of the universe.

Aristotle’s dominance as a thinker and his idea of logic lead to the conclusion that life evolved from mud, man is merely a brew of chemicals and that the mind is just a bunch of random synaptic circuits.

I lean towards a different view of life, man, and the nature of the universe; much of which is articulated in the work of noted philosopher L. Ron Hubbard.

For starters, I find Hubbard’s Infinite Valued Logic System to be much more practical and usable than the two-valued logic system created by Aristotle.

To paraphrase Hubbard, although absolutes are unattainable in the physical universe however, they must be postulated.

Thus one can create an infinitely gradated scale between:

yes <---------------------------------------------> no

right <--------------------------------------------> wrong

survive <------------------------------------------> succumb

fiction <-------------------------------------------> non-fiction

And any other subject one wishes to understand. And all subjects (I believe) are best investigated through the use of such infinitely gradated scales.

Utilizing such a scale one can examine most anything. And one needs such a scale to examine and understand almost anything.

One even needs such a scale just to conduct daily life. How else does one decide if he should stay late at the office or go out with his friends (as a very simple example).

There might even be several gradient scales on which this decision should turn. It might take a bit of thinking to determine the appropriate scale -- but it would be well worth doing. One scale might be Job Security; with zero security on one end and infinite security on the other. Staying late might move ones security a little towards the infinite end of the scale. But what about rest and recreation, and maintaining ones relationships with friends, and what about the cost of the potential "night out"?

Rest and recreation, maintaining relationships, and cost represent just a small example of the various gradient scales that could be used to evaluate this situation.

Or one could attempt to use the "Ben Franklin" decision making methodology. But that system is based on the Aristotelian "two-valued" logic system and as such is fatally flawed. For those unfamiliar with Old Ben’s methodology; it goes something like this.

Take a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle and list on one side the positives and on the other the negatives. Aside from the inherent shortcomings of the two-valued approach (nothing is either completely positive or completely negative) none of the individual items are weighted and they should be.

For example, spending $50 for the night out might be a negative. But if one makes $10K a month then $50 isn’t much of a negative. However if one only makes $2,000 a month and he is already behind on the rent payment -- then blowing $50 on drinks is a much bigger negative. Hence, blowing $50 is neither inherently positive nor negative. It must be considered in context. And the best context is achieved by constructing a gradient scale.

One of the problems with man is that our language tends towards absolutes. We have the words "hate" and "love", "positive" and "negative". But we are very unclear about the infinite number of words that go in-between absolutes. So, people tend to speak in absolutes even though they really can’t think in those terms nor resolve life issues via absolutism.

You will find therefore, that I talk about and use gradient scales in my work as a writer, thinker, and teacher of the craft of writing fiction.

I use it, "because it works".


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