The Thing in Itself

I've been reading a bit of 18th century philosophy, in specific Immanuel Kant. He thought about 'The Thing in Itself”. A simplified version goes like this. You are standing in a forest looking at a tree. It is beautiful or is it? Kant points out that characteristic like beauty is a characteristic we humans assign to the tree. If we leave we take that evaluation with us. Even the tree is tall is a personal evaluation based on our own size. Your companion says, 'I've seen taller.” This accounts for why different people have different opinions.

 

The native characteristics of the tree do not change when it is unobserved. The actual height of the tree is the same no matter what measuring system we use, whether we are observing it or not.

 

This is important to writers. It opens a door. Our antagonist can be a good person who's point of view is different from the protagonist. This is a much more interesting way of presenting conflict. Everything isn't right or wrong, sometimes it is right and right or wrong and wrong.

 

In the real world, its useful to try to understand someone who disagrees with you. That will reduce your emotional response. I think that understanding is much better than creating drama from an immature need to be right. Congress are you listening?