Furthest Right

The literal-minded

I’ve been looking for this type of description for some time:

Pride of place in the Philogelos goes to the “egg-heads”, who are the subject of almost half the jokes for their literal-minded scholasticism (“An egg-head doctor was seeing a patient. ‘Doctor’, he said, ‘when I get up in the morning I feel dizzy for 20 minutes.’ ‘Get up 20 minutes later, then’”).

After the “egg-heads”, various ethnic jokes come a close second. In a series of gags reminiscent of modern Irish or Polish jokes, the residents of three Greek towns – Abdera, Kyme and Sidon – are ridiculed for their “how many Abderites does it take to change a light bulb?” style of stupidity. Why these three places in particular, we have no idea. But their inhabitants are portrayed as being as literal-minded as the egg-heads, and even more obtuse.

“An Abderite saw a eunuch talking to a woman and asked if she was his wife. When he replied that eunuchs can’t have wives, the Abderite asked, ‘So is she your daughter then?’”

The Times

We might try to laugh this off as ancient silliness until we realize that it applies today.

Literal-minded = confuses the ostensible, or how reality is sampled by human categories, with the real.

The real is organic, or made of billions of small factors working together to create a whole.

The literal is like assuming that a name controls something: if we call a squirrel a pit bull, it still will not attack.

We see plenty of literal-mindedness in society today, and to me it seems like the byproduct of people having no idea how reality works, because to them living means buying things in stores.

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