Grey Thinking

To an ideologue, Lyndon Johnson fits into some category or another. He's despicable, and his crimes cannot be made up for. His lies and his personal reputation make him unforgivable. Alternatively, by passing Civil Rights, maybe Lyndon Johnson is something of a dark hero - a flawed, Batman-like figure who we needed but couldn't appreciate in his time.

The truth is, of course, in between. He's all of these things. The problem lies with us, the categorizers. We want to place him somewhere and move on.

  • this might be somehow related to taxonomies and rhizome (connections are usually better than taxonomies) - trying to label something good/bad when it's both/none
  • black/white thinking vs grey thinking sometimes leads to everything having the same (grey) colour, vs everything being different shades of grey

I soon raised the question with myself, "What is the smallest or close to the smallest program I believe could think?" Clearly if the program were divided in two parts, then neither piece could think.

— Limits of computer applications - AI-I - Richard Hamming

  • this might be a wrong way to think about this specific problem though - the argument depends on binary categorisation (something either "is" or "isn't" thinking), where "thinking" is probably a gradient (Grey Thinking describes the mental model around this)