Humans undergo a basic learning sequence while interacting with ourself, others, and our environment. The basic sequence involves communication between the conscious and subconscious minds.
1. We recognize attributes via sensory input and perception.
2. We assign an identifying label to the group of attributes.
3. We equate the label with the specific list of attributes.
4. We assign a dichotomic value based on personal experience.
5. We equate the assigned value with the identifying label.
Example: A dog
1. This thing is furry, has a unique smell, moves around a lot, has a tail that wags, has a wet nose, barks, and is very soft.
2. This small, furry being that wags its tail, smells, moves about, is soft, barks, and has a wet nose is called a Dog.
3. A dog is anything that is furry, has this unique smell, moves around, has a tail that wags, a wet nose, barks, and has soft fur.
4. My personal experience is that a dog is friendly and provided safe companionship. My experience with a dog was positive.
5. Dogs = Good
This is the general method by which we processes reality as we learn. First, we equate an object's qualities with a name. Next, we evaluate the object based on personal experience, the experience of others, or through some type of information (education) about the object. Lastly, we equate the label with the value.
There are some inherent problems with the accuracy of this system. Using critical thinking, we might examine the logic of each of the five steps.
Step 1: Is our sensory perception of the attributes accurate? Is our inventory of the object's qualities complete? Our accuracy is limited to the accuracy of our five senses, which we know from Critical Thinking is extremely inaccurate and incomplete.
Step 2: The accuracy of the label is determined by the accuracy and completeness of our sensory perception (which is limited).
Step 3: If the list of attributes is incomplete or inaccurate, or, if the label is not correct, then we are dealing with an innacurate picture of reality.
Step 4: We use our education, our knowledge about other people's experiences, and most importantly, our own experiences with the object to assign a value to the object. But, is our experience the only possible one? In most cases, there could be millions of possibilities of experience and variations of perception, but we are often completely confident our personal experiences are the only possible, or most likely experiences to occur. What if the dog in the example above mauled you? How would that change your evaluations of dogs?
Step 5: We believe we have a complete, or at least substantial understanding of an object, whenever the object itself is being viewed by a highly subjective mind with a very limited ability to perceive reality accurately and completely. Next we take that incomplete understanding of an object and equate it to a very limited scope of experience without considering that our own experiences are also highly subjective.
The end result is a very incomplete view of reality with a high level of confidence that reality as we understand it is both complete and accurate.