Thursday, June 23, 2011

Are there always exceptions to any rule?

Purple Orchids at Biltmore Greenhouse
Photo by Timothy K. Hamilton

Rule # 1:
There are exceptions to any rule. 
Many of us have heard that expression or statement.  Can that statement be trusted to be true?    If I can find a statement that contains no exceptions or alternatives or possible deviations, then I have disproved the rule, right?  If that rule is true, then it should always be true that there are exceptions to every rule.  What If I were to come up with an exception to the rule that "any rule has exceptions."?

Try this one:  Rule # 2 :
The only rule to which there are no exceptions is the rule that there always are exceptions to a rule. 
So obviously, Rule # 1 cannot be true.  A more likely truth is something less absolute, because there are few absolutes in life.  So here's a more accurate and true version of Rule #1:

Rule # 3:
There are sometimes exceptions to rules.
This seems more accurate, and allows for some "wiggle room" as well as reflecting some wisdom that has been passed down to us.

Moral of the story:  Absolutes in statements and generalizations rarely are true.  What we think and say shapes the way we see the world.  It might be wise to pay attention to any absolute statements we say, and to temper them somewhat.  Many a statement that is mostly true looses it's "truth" when stated as an absolute.

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