Thursday, April 28, 2005

Motivational stories or fables

Is there any theory on how and why motivational stories and anecdotes affect human minds and why they are created at all?
They are usually an account of a specific experience. They are narrow in scope and many a time cannot be generalized easily.
(Extrapolation - the boon of engineering and the bane of science - are fables an engineering approach to moral science :)) )
There are two parts to a fable - the story and the moral. The leap from one to the next is the most interesting aspect of a fable! For example, consider the story outlined in my previous post. (See below)

I can think of the following morals that I can draw from the story alone:

For man:
- Do not decide your course of action without complete knowledge of the situation.
- Mind your own business. Leave moths alone.
- Its high time biology found the way of way of forcing fluid from the body of the moth into its wings so that it would be ready for flight anytime during the moth's life cycle so that man can help a moth whenever he wants!
- Define "help" based on the definition of help of the person you are helping and not your own.
- Create moth simulations that allow man to help moths without harming them.
- Do not waste time gaping at moths.
- Beware of scissors!

For moth:
- Find other ways of cocoon-exit without hampering your flight.
- Its high time moths start studying the structure and physiology of moths.
- Beware of man!
- If a hole is made on one side of the cocoon, abandon exit from there and start making another hole.
- Learn artificial aviation (Create society, universities, and phd programs on artificial moth aviation which extends to artificial moth life itself. Start by experimenting with various other creatures e.g. the attempts of man to fly - frenetic algorithms,....)

Jokes apart, the leap from story to moral is indeed an absurd one (absurd as used by Albert Camus in "The Myth of Sisyphus"). The story usually has a sprinkling of pointers to the moral and thereby the story leads to the moral at the end. If the story were to be stripped to its bare-bones and then viewed distinctly from the derived moral, the absurd leap will be apparent.

A logical way to approach the fable would be to inquire whether the story really justifies or is enough proof for the moral. Indeed, in most cases I have found that it is not.
Just because a moth (a creature that is way behind in the evolutionary path and hence, if the theory of evolution is correct, inferior to us) struggles its head off to come out of a hole at its birth, why should we conclude that (even sometimes) struggle is good for human beings!!

What about morals without stories - aphorisms. Well, lets see it next time.



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