Speaking in Absolutes

Obi Won Kenobi states in Revenge of the Sith that “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.” To be honest, I don’t really understand what he means by this and much of the wisdom that this statement may hold seems to be contradicted by the fact that it’s an absolute statement. However, I agree that speaking in absolutes is problematic. For one, it’s generally lying. If I say that a hamburger is “the best hamburger I’ve ever had in my life,” there is a chance I am telling the truth, but that chance is slim. Have I done an extensive analysis of the gastronomical stimulation that every hamburger I’ve eaten has provided me with? No. Therefore, I cannot definitely say that any hamburger is truly the best hamburger I’ve ever had. Second of all, it’s cognitively lazy. The number of times I’ve stopped myself from saying that a movie is “the best movie ever” even though it is a movie clearly inferior to The Shawshank Redemption is astounding. Maybe for a moment, my brain genuinely believes that the movie I’ve just seen is the best; however, that’s only because it’s being too lazy to activate the ten more neurons necessary to tell me that it’s a piece of garbage compared to Shawshank. Third of all, speaking frequently in absolutes discredits those rare moments when the use of an absolute is warranted. If I am someone who frequently speaks in absolutes and claim that Avatar is the highest grossing film of all time, those around me may not believe me given the fact that I probably said the same thing about Shawshank. For these reasons, I try not to speak in absolutes despite the fact that it’s one way of expressing enthusiasm.

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