Archive for April 2nd, 2008

Two kinds of people

Posted on April 2, 2008. Filed under: Culture, Musings, Philosophy |

people.gif There are many sayings that start out with the words: “There are two kinds of people in the world,” and go on to say, usually “Those who -X-, and those who -Y-“. (“X” and “Y” stand for any two contrasting characteristics).

A lot of these are meant to be humorous. For example, I posted a joke some time ago that has a little different take on the form: “There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who know binary, and those who don’t.”

And others; some of which stretch the parameters:

There are three kinds of people in the world: those who can count and those who can’t.

There are two kinds of people, those who finish what they start and so on …

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide the world into two kinds of people, and those who don’t – Robert Benchley (This last is quoted by Book Browse, a book finder’s site which has an interesting genre classification system [a topic dear to my heart]).

And one more, stretching that last one even further: There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who think you can reduce all people into two categories (they are called managers) and those who think categorizing all the people in the world into two categories is absurd (they are called philosophers—by managers).

Lest you begin to wonder whether there is a point to this post, I’ll get to it. Oh, wait, first, one more before the main one (this really does bring me to what I plan to write about today, honest!): There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who let the chips fall where they may, and those who like to arrange them in neat little piles.


So, with all these “two kinds of people” going through my head, I had to stop and think when I read this quote, from one of my favorite authors, Rita Mae Brown: “…There are two opposing points of view, and they can never be reconciled…The first is you take people as they are. Sure, you have laws to curb the worst excesses, but you go about your business and other people go about theirs. The other point of view is that humans are evil and must be controlled, watched, hammered. The real problem there is the definition of evil changes according to who is in power. However, they always claim they are following old laws or God’s word or decency…The twain shall never meet…” from Puss ‘n Cahoots: A Mrs. Murphy mystery by Rita Mae Brown, pg. 183


The “two points of view” or “kinds of people” described here seem to me to fuel the debate between those who feel they know what’s best for others, and those who may or may not know, but believe that others views are their own business. I tend to side with the latter point of view. I don’t necessarily agree with Brown’s character that the opposing point of view is that people are “evil”, but it certainly appears many think we do need to be controlled. I was stuck by the notion that the definition of what is “evil” depends upon who is in power. It seems impossible to maintain a consistent system of universal values if that’s true.

I have no objection to anything anyone wishes to believe, however I do decline offers to let me know why their beliefs are the right ones, and mine are not. Some of those wishing to share this information include religious observers, philosophers, and scientists. Whatever they may think they can “prove” to me whether by empirical evidence or through faith, they seem to forget—or not want to acknowledge—that we are each individuals, with a belief system tailored to each AS an individual. If we’re reasonably competent adults, we are probably intelligent enough to examine existence, draw our own conclusions—perhaps with input from advisers, friends, family and literature—and discover our own world view as we go. As another of my favorite mystery writers (Sue Grafton) says “…if I can’t keep an open mind, I’d better keep my mouth shut, too!”.

I think Ms. Brown’s quote sums up the opposing factions quite well, and wanted to share it with you. Do you agree about the two “kinds”? Thanks for reading, and peace to you.


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