Gray-scale cognition and black-and-white decision-making
“Gray-scale cognition, black and white decision-making” is a popular phrase recently. I first heard Luo Zhenyu say it, and I don’t know who the inventor is. This sentence is very reasonable. We know that the world is not black and white, and there are many gray areas in it, so we must have gray-scale cognition. However, if you want to do something, it can’t be gray.
For example, the weather forecast says that the probability of rain today is 40%, which means that it may rain or it may not rain. This is gray-scale cognition. But in terms of action, you either have an umbrella or you don’t. You can’t carry a 40% umbrella. This is a black and white decision.
In fact, this saying has existed before. Mao Zedong once praised Deng Xiaoping: “Think round and square, both principled and highly flexible.”
“Think round and act square”, thinking is round and action is square. Isn’t this gray-scale cognition and black-and-white decision-making? Only those who have reached this level can entrust great things. So how to think round and square, how to grasp principles and flexibility? There is logic here.
Before talking about flexibility, you have to learn principle first. Not all cognition is grayscale.
Why should we talk about principles
There are some people in the world https://sysprogs.com/w/forums/users/lone14who are principled, and some people are not. There is a huge difference in the height of their personality. If you talk too much about principles, there may be disadvantages, such as doing things too rigidly, a bit pedantic, or even a little “stuck”; but if you don’t talk about principles, you have no advantages.
Only when you talk about principles can you be logical, you are reasonable, your words are worth listening to, your behavior is predictable, and others will cooperate with you. If a person has no principles and can do anything, then he must not be allowed to take on any important responsibilities. It is difficult for such a person to gain a foothold in society.
In principle, the most logical approach is to follow the example of mathematics. Mathematics talks about “axioms”, that is, facts that do not need to be proved, and are the starting point of logical derivation. For example, Euclid derived the entire plane geometry from the five most basic axioms. Mathematician Zheng Lejun believes that the principles of life should also form a reasonable logical system. It is best to start from a few basic principles to deduce the entire guide to action.
How do you find your own principles? The best way to do this is to keep asking yourself: Why do I think so? Keep asking until there is no why, and I believe it – that’s your principle.
For example, some people think that the government should help the poor through social welfare programs; some people think that everyone should be self-reliant and not rely on others. Then you have to ask, why do you think so? If one person’s answer is: This is what the government should have done, I think so. That level is a bit low.
A high-level answer goes like this: People are not isolated animals, they are full of connections. The improvement of the lives of the poor is not only good for themselves, but also for their relatives, friends and people around them. The improvement of the whole social environment is also good for those who pay taxes. Helping others is actually helping yourself.
This answer provides a lower logic, a more basic principle. Now we like to talk about the words “underlying logic” and “first principles”. In fact, we are asking what the axioms of your logic system are—that is, your principles.
Even if two people who talk about principles have conflicts, they can talk about what they believe in, and maybe they can reach a consensus on a certain level of principle. You are the Kuomintang, and I am the Communist Party. We have different political ideas, but you have to agree to resist Japan and save the country, right? Now my troops are going to fight the Japanese, why can’t you give me a hand? This is called seeking common ground while reserving differences.
Following the spirit of mathematics, the principles should be layered. The deeper the principles, the fewer, simpler, and more inviolable. Conversely, if a person regards everything as a principle, and only knows that I like this and don’t like that, and doesn’t know why I like it or why I don’t like it, then in fact, only willfulness remains.
Starting from the few principles at the bottom, review and judge your own decisions at any time, and your actions will be very determined. Others see you as very reliable, but you also have a sense of honor when you see yourself.
But having said that, can we use principles to guide all our actions and make every decision so logical? The answer is no.
gray scale cognition
The so-called gray-scale cognition means that some things in the real world are not black and white logic. I want to be healthy, so I take food safety seriously, so I don’t eat expired food, which is very logical. If there is a bottle of milk that says it expires on March 26th, and it is late at night on March 25th, in order not to waste it, should I drink it before midnight?
The expiration time cannot be an exact science. The nature of milk will not change drastically within one second from 11:59:59 to 0:00 in the middle of the night. If you really don’t want to waste it, it’s not a big problem to wait until tomorrow morning to drink it. The world is grayscale.
Let’s say you decide to quit drinking. Today is the 30th anniversary party of middle school graduation. The teacher I haven’t seen in 30 years wants to have a drink with you. Can you not drink? Drinking too much alcohol is harmful, but there are gray levels between not drinking and drinking too much. Even from a purely logical point of view, there is no clear dividing line.
Zheng Lejun gave a beautiful example of Jane. A scene from Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth asked Mr. Darcy when he fell in love with her, and Mr. Darcy replied: “I don’t know at what moment, at what place, or which image or sentence of yours made me fall in love with her.” For you. It was a long time ago, before I knew I was in love with you, I was in love with you.”
You see, falling in love with someone is not black and white. It is a continuous transition process from no love at all to definitely falling in love. This gray area is particularly difficult to make decisions.
For example, you are determined to eat less cookies in order to lose weight, but you really like to eat cookies. Do you think that eating only a small bite of biscuits can still affect the great cause of weight loss? Certainly not. What about another bite? It should be fine. The logical conclusion is that no matter how many cookies you’ve eaten today, one more bite won’t make a substantial difference. So how much should you eat?
Another example is the “Me Too” topic that was hotly discussed some time ago. What exactly constitutes sexual harassment? It’s okay to shake hands, but does it count as a touch on the shoulder?
To draw a line, logically does not support absolute line drawing. If you don’t draw the line, you have the opportunity to make progress. It’s okay to eat a small bite of biscuit, and it’s okay to eat another small bite, and you will gain weight after eating. If a handshake is okay, a shoulder touch is okay, you could end up being sexually harassed. How should this line be drawn?
black and white decision
The so-called black and white decision-making is to draw lines even if it is not logical. There is a cut-off score for university entrance exams. If you score 679, you can go to Tsinghua University, but if you score 678, you cannot. The difference between the two students is only one point, and this difference can be explained by chance. Maybe the student with a score of 678 has a higher standard. This is illogical, but there is no way. The university can only admit so many people, and there can only be such a line.
And things like eating biscuits, drinking alcohol, and sexual harassment are not strictly external requirements, they are all restraints on oneself, so what should we do? This key idea is called a “buffer”. When you draw a line, you need to reserve a buffer, as shown in Figure 6-2.
White on the left, black on the right, and gray in the middle. Your line should be drawn very far to the left, and a large gray area after the line is still relatively white – that area is the buffer zone. After the buffer zone, grays become darker.
Draw the line here, with the buffer, you have enough security. Even if you cross the line even a little bit, you are still safe. Your persistence, your principles, your discipline should be outside the buffer zone.
For example, eating biscuits, if eating three pieces a day is too much, and eating two pieces is ambiguous, then you should stipulate that you eat one piece a day. It’s perfectly safe to eat a biscuit, and crossing the line once in a while isn’t really a problem, but the existence of the line can make you feel guilty when you cross it.
Another example is sexual harassment in the workplace. We can draw a line like this. Except for the woman shaking hands, there should be no physical contact between men and women. The line is a bit harsh, but very safe. Slight cross-line behavior will not bring great harm to women, but it can bring great vigilance to men.
In fact, when merchants set the expiration time of food, they have already left a certain buffer zone. It is better to be too safe than to be a little dangerous. With that in mind, we shouldn’t pay too much attention to the expiration time.
This is a black and white decision. Black and white decision-making guarantees principledness. The next thing we are going to talk about is more advanced, let’s talk about “flexibility”.
principles and flexibility
If a person has no flexibility at all and refuses to give up an inch of land after drawing a line, it seems that it cannot be called gray-scale cognition or black-and-white decision-making, because it is no different from black-and-white cognition and black-and-white decision-making.
Confucius has a saying: “If you don’t follow the middle way, you will be crazy! The crazy will make progress, and the crazy will not do something.” What I understand is that if you can’t achieve the mean, then the two This kind of talent is not bad-and this “狷”, this “do not do something”, is a person with a particularly strong principle. However, we can also see from this passage of Confucius that he is very principled and not the most advanced talent. Bank of China, that is, the mean, is the most senior talent.
Many people understand “the mean” as adhering to principles, but they actually confuse the mean with “狷”. In my opinion, Zhongyong means “both principled and highly flexible”. To put it simply, the mean means to have a gray level of cognition, and it means to be able to bargain on the basis of principles.
For example, I think that social welfare should be increased, and you think that excessive welfare should be avoided. On the surface, we seem to be at odds with each other, but after sitting down and talking, I found that although you are opposed to excessive welfare, you actually agree to provide some welfare. At least, if soldiers are injured or disabled on the battlefield, the country can’t ignore it. ?
In this way, the difference between the two of us is not an essential issue, but a question of how to grasp the “degree”. This degree is a certain line in the gray area between you and me. Recognizing this, we have the possibility of bargaining, and we will not be in the same situation.
The basic national policy of the Ming Dynasty was absolutely not to compromise with foreign invaders. There was absolutely no such thing as peace or cession of land. Cheng Zu Zhu Di put the capital in Beijing, faced the threat from the north, and the emperor guarded the gate of the country, that is, he made it clear that he would not compromise on this line. But please note that the people who drew this line back then did not mean to set up a buffer zone—even if Beijing is under serious threat, at least the good country in the south is still there. This is a black and white decision under grayscale cognition. But in Zhu Youjian’s generation, there are only black and white decisions left, and gray-scale cognition is gone. Peace talks cannot be mentioned, withdrawal cannot be discussed, and there is no flexibility at all. Isn’t this digging a hole for yourself?
There are principles, but for a higher principle, I can bargain with you, that is still a principle. Putting the capital in Beijing is a matter of principle. What is the difference between that and no principle? There is an essential difference, but it is really hard to grasp. There is no unified algorithm in it, you can only make your own decisions, how can you say that the golden mean is so difficult?