Human experience is not a constant — it is not fixed or static.
When we experience new things — historically as civilizations and as individuals over the course of our lives — our understanding of what we experience evolves. New experiences often give rise to novel names. We name or label the novel to create a shared understanding.
“A name that can be named is not a constant name.”
—Tao Te Ching. Takuan Soho (Verse 1)
We need some concept of ‘what is fixed’ to bring about understanding.
While boundaries have both determinate and indeterminate aspects, we need a gateway in the boundary wall to allow for the spontaneous and fluid nature of human experience.
Problems of prejudice and dogmatic or ideological thinking arise from not being aware of the subtlety of experience and meaning-making.
Names and labels are creative ways we assign meaning to communicate our experiences of the world. Collectively, we might agree on boundaries within meaning-making, like a dictionary definition, to share a common understanding of a word. Without a determinate description, we would have no shared understanding; no metaphorical boundary.
The paradox lies in the uniqueness of personal experiences; no two people experience an event in exactly the same way.
Like the ever-changing contours of experience, the definitions we attach to labels such as 'gay,' 'straight,' 'trans,' or any other identities are subject to evolution. Recognizing this dynamic is crucial in navigating the complexities of identity. It fosters a more open-minded and understanding society.
The danger to human dignity that leads to prejudice, hatred, disregard, inflexibility, and apathy, is the belief that we can erect walls around identities without openings.
Language is an artifact, whereas our world is a natural organism.
Human beings are organisms interconnected with the world of natural differences and uniqueness.
When we are free to describe the subtlety of our experiences, we can breach the walls of ideological determinacy.