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The Art of Comparison

February 28, 2021 at 7:30 pm - 10:30 pm EST

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Fellow Interintellect Maybe Gray explores the world of comparison that is so often hidden within the ways we think about ourselves, others

Certainty and clarity are incredibly rare phenomena. In a wide variety of contexts we are all forced to make do without clear objective guides for understanding concepts.

In the absence of objective information we compare ourselves to others in order to form our own self-concepts, engage in self-evaluation and develop self-esteem. Without this act of comparison we do not know who we are or how to feel about ourselves.

In the absence of objective information we compare people to each other in order to create functional concepts of who they are and make decisions about how to act in our relationships with them. Our foundational social concepts – gender, status, normality, conformity, intelligence, etc. – all inherently involve comparison. Without these comparisons we struggle to create meaningful relationships or understand unspoken social rules.

In the absence of objective information we compare ideas to each other to determine what we believe to be true about the world around us. Concepts like “good” and “bad”, “right” and “wrong”, “true” and “false”, “us” and “them” implicitly rely on comparison. Without these concepts we struggle to choose between ideas or navigate the world.

If we are not careful, we can make important mistakes in the acts of comparison we may not even notice ourselves engaged in. There are logical elements that must be present in a comparison for it to be functional. Even when these logical elements are present and structured correctly, our comparisons can be lopsided, unfair or misleading when our critical analysis is not equally applied to each subject of the comparison.

If we are artful, we can lovingly craft the comparisons we make so that they carry great meaning and convey valuable insights about ourselves, others, ideas, and the world. In this salon we will explore questions like:

  • What are the most loadbearing comparisons in our own models of ourselves, others, ideas, and the world, and how can we ensure they are made artfully?
  • What does it take for a comparison to be meaningful, useful, and honest?
  • How can we hold ourselves to the standard of being meaningful, useful and honest in the comparisons we make throughout our own intellectual lives?
  • Are there familiar comparisons in social, political, and intellectual contexts which fail to live up to the standard of being meaningful, useful and honest?
  • How is comparison built into human psychology, for better and for worse?
  • Is comparison really the “thief of joy” or can it be harnessed as a tool for compassion and connection?

– ii Salon Host Maybe Gray


Good to read or watch pre-Salon:



Time zones:

  • 4:30 pm in San Fransisco
  • 7:30 pm in New York
  • 6 am in Mumbai
  • 8:30 am Singapore
  • 11:30 am in Sydney

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Maybe Gray
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