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On the Nature of Premature Generalizations

by Lee Duane FitzSimmons

While generalization is one of the more important steps of any type of intellectual process that involves classification, clarification, and elucidation, it is often performed far too early within the overall process. There are many reasons why this rush to judgment occurs. First, there are the commonly used classification mechanisms that instantly place all newly gained information into the most convenient stereotypes. Next, there is the mental laziness that allows this type of reasoning to take hold within the psyche. This intellectual sleepiness is responsible for some of the greatest developmental shortcomings now present within the species. Both of these reasons will now be examined so that solutions can be created and subsequently put into practical use.

Stereotyping is a disease that has run rampant throughout civilization for thousands of years. It promotes a very primitive and crude form of peer acceptance that does not tolerate deviation from the status quo. It also promotes hatred and aids the agendas of warmongers who feed upon these types of negative energy. The antidote for stereotyping is education. If more true knowledge is allowed to circulate throughout the collective psyche of humanity, then the behavior of stereotyping can be kept in check more effectively and efficiently.

Eaters of Opium by Vasily Vereshchagin (1868)

However, a much larger reason for this great plague of premature generalization is the laziness of the intellect. This crisis of humanity has been one of the main reasons why the human condition has been stagnant for so many centuries. Laziness of the intellect also feeds the evil of dogmatic simplification. By quickly drawing conclusions and making very broad generalizations, the entire intellectual process is rendered inert.

Thus, an individual who has completed the analytical process prematurely does not tend to think about the subject any longer. The questions have been answered, and the mind is now free to dance playfully in the Dionysian realms of drunken lunacy. Because the worries of daily life take such a toll on many struggling individuals, there are many who prefer to remain ignorant, so they may be more able to relax. Therefore, the rewards of stereotypical thinking are so great that it is chosen by many in order to alleviate stress.

Although many justify this infantile form of logic as being a type of "common sense" in which the obvious answer is easily known, vital exceptions to the general rules are almost always overlooked. Within these exceptions, true evolution resides. By overgeneralizing and rushing to judgment, these evolutionary revolutions are either not perceived or met with severe skepticism. This failure of human cognition is the greatest danger of premature generalization.

Thus, in order to overcome this threat, it becomes necessary for each person to make sure that the entire analytical process is completed thoroughly by the intellect before any type of generalization is made. To complete the process too early is an extreme danger that allows for the continued existence of many of the detrimental flaws now prevalent within the basic structures of human civilization. However, the remedy is obvious; all that is required is self-reliant thought.

It really is that simple.

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Copyright 2013 by Lee Fitzsimmons