Monday, August 4, 2008


"Grok" is a coined word that Robert Heinlein used in Stranger in a Strange Land. It means to understand something at a truly fundamentally deep level. You say you grok it.

Well I don't know if any of us really grok all that much. I know that I'm always adjusting my understanding of things as I learn more and sometimes I have to adjust things I thought I knew pretty drastically when I discover that what I thought I knew is just not true.

In a sense grok is arguably a synonym for truth. If something is really true then you grok it. But I also believe in existential doubt, sort of a final reservation of doubt so that you don't lock down on something so hard that you no longer can listen.

I believe lots of things so completely that the content of my existential doubt is pretty small. I believe that right and wrong are at base objective concepts and that they are not generally situational. I believe that toleration is not a fundamental value if it means we are to tolerate the intolerable. But where to draw the line is a pretty fundamental question.

The libertarian concept that one's right to throw one's fist ends where my nose begins is something I agree with. Also I always liked Heinlein's stress on TANSTAAFL! — There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

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