On Being "Positively Unreasonable"


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A Pecha Kucha Night Greenville presentation I gave about "positive unreasonableness" (based on the famous G.B. Shaw quote about all progress depending on the "unreasonable man").

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On Being "Positively Unreasonable"

  1. 1. Does this look like a happy man? A man satisfied with his world?Not Satisfied With Some people in the audience might His World recognize his face. This is George Bernard Shaw, a very famous Irish playwright. He may be more famous, though, for some remarkable quotes from his plays, his other writing, and his public speaking.
  2. 2. Possibly the most famous is. "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world, the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.""Unreasonable" All of these people refused to adapt to People their worlds and instead changed the world around them. They were all "unreasonable".
  3. 3. ...but so were these people. They didnt like their world, either, and sought to change it, but very few people wold call their changes "progress". So whats the difference? What makes one group of unreasonable people "bad" and the other "good"?So Were These Guys
  4. 4. I think of it more as positive and negative. Good and bad have moral connotations and, though there is common ground in most moral codes,Positive/Negative there are enough differences to make Is Important things that are "good" in one "bad" in (or Light/Dark If another. You Prefer) My current definition of positive unreasonableness is adapting the world for the most benefit to the most people, but even with that definition, we have to be careful. Darth here, after all, argued that he was bringing peace to the galaxy - the most benefit to the most people. So there has to be more to it.
  5. 5. Humility is a beginning, although possibly not the only one. Humility allows us to understand that we dont know everything.Learning Once we realize that, we learn toTo Listen listen to the people around us. Thats all good, but so far seems pretty "reasonable".
  6. 6. The "unreasonable" part comes from understanding when not to listen. Reason (logic - which is different from "being reasonable") leads us to the understanding that if we dont know everything, neither does anyone else. In turn, we realize that if we have a great idea, we dont have to listen to other people who say it cant be done. Learning They might not know what theyreWhen Not To talking about. Listen
  7. 7. So the key to unreasonableness seems to be knowing how to weigh who or what we should listen to IGNORING against what we should ignore.LISTENING This can be a difficult balance to achieve. Still, theres more to it. We want to achieve progress.
  8. 8. While looking for examples of "unreasonable" people, I came across this guy. Some people would say he was "unreasonable" and he certainly changed the world - most peopleHave You would say in a positive way.Seen This If you dont recognize the face, its Man? Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I would argue that he achieved progress.
  9. 9. But maybe this guy was more unreasonable? If you werent a child of the 80s, you might not recognize him, either. Thats Falco, who sang "Rock Me, Amadeus". The songs not the unreasonable part, though. Falco once claimed the ghost of Mozart spoke to him and guided his music. He even claimed that he had an entire new album...Or This, Uh... Guy? written, but was waiting for the spirit of Wolfgang to tell him when to release it. That seems more unreasonable, but Id argue he contributed a lot less to the progress of the world, even though I think, "Rock Me, Amadeus" is a pretty cool song. But is it progress? That brings us to the question -
  10. 10. Shaw was the socialist/atheist. Chesterton was the capitalist/Christian. Both of them had ideas that were considered radically "unreasonable" in their day. So which ones would lead to progress? Which of them was(On Second "positively unreasonable"?Thought, AskSomeone Else What is "unreasonable" in the senseIf You DidntUnderstand that Shaw meant?The LastSlide) If it seems like Im coming up with more questions than answers here, you should probably go back to the part about realizing what we dont know.
  11. 11. To figure that out, we have to judge the motives of the people doing the talking around us. Where is the reaction coming from? When it comes to "unreasonable" ideas, most negative reactions come from fear. It may not be obvious fear, and that person may not even realize their own fears. We still have to listen, though - to everyone - and then choose what to ignore.Whats The Motive?
  12. 12. We have to listen because sometimes people have a valid point. They may have solid, logical reasons that this idea, this path, is not the right one to pursue. These are usually not the people basing their reactions in fear - or any other emotion - but, somewhat ironically, in reason - not the copout of "being reasonable" - but actual reason - logic - thought.Highly Illogical
  13. 13. Just be careful. Sometimes arguments can be dressed up to appear logical, but arent coming from reason or logic.Spot the difference? And sometimes logic may steer us away from our course, but every "unreasonable" thing we do doesnt have to be logical. There are great things in this world that logic would have said, before they were created, had no reason for being. Thats Whack
  14. 14. So back to Shaw, and what bing "unreasonable" lead to for him. G.B. Shaw was a kid who hated school, the son of an alcoholic father and a mother who left them when he was 15. He overcame stagefright and a stammer by standing on a soapbox at Speakers Corner and telling the world his unreasonable ideas.G.B, Shaw, The Early Years
  15. 15. He was very nearly tried for treason during World War I just for stating his unpopular thoughts about his society at the time. He couldnt get his plays produced anywhere because they were just too different. But he didnt stop. He knew when not to listen. He recovered - became hugely famous and wealthy - and respected.I Havent Seen One Of These His plays were produced in on Pawn Stars Yet numerous theaters in the UK and North America - and he went on to win the Nobel Prize for literature in 1925. He was probably glad he didnt listen.