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"When the Only Tool You Have Is a Hammer, All Problems Begin to Resemble Nails.” (Abraham Maslow) How Might This Apply to Ways of Knowing, as Tools, in the Pursuit of Knowledge?

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"When the only tool you have is a hammer, all problems begin to resemble nails.” (Abraham Maslow)
How might this apply to ways of knowing, as tools, in the pursuit of knowledge? Have you ever wondered why and how your logic becomes restricted once confronting a problem? Abraham Maslow once stated “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail”, which I believe could be understood as a statement questioning the method diverse human beings follow to execute any of their tasks. In this essay, integrating the functions of human intuition, language vs. sense perception and reasoning in contrast with mathematics, ethics and emotions, will help providing an answer for “To what extent should we trust our fundamental skills into resolving all types of complications”. Further more, by staying in correlation with Maslow’s statement, we should come to conclusion that a human being isn’t always conscious of his actions and that it takes high self-control and creativity when in need of solving a problem.

As far as I can see, encountering a problem that necessitates an approval and a

final decision to be made usually requires the usage of intuition. In other words, the process in the making of a decision cannot start before a problem has actually been set. The type of problem worth being investigated, must have first been lead by an intuition, which subsequently triggers the last decision; the ratification of a solution.
Individuals may not always find the best resolution, but they trust and have faith in it, which supports the point made: an intuition leads a decision-making. For example, successful men such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, did not achieve their fortune by any random chance. All their life, they had to speculate in order to make choices – close to the idea of completely random gambling except that intuition took part in the game. In order to make sense, it is important to visualize the meaning given in this paragraph. Believe it or not, it takes a certain type of strategy in order to hammer a nail

into something, because factors like the angle, placement and length of the nail must be taken into consideration when hammering it. But, this strategy may differ in many people: Considering intuition as your hand, the hammer as your resolution and the nail as the problem – the hand is used to place the nail and take care of the hammer, meaning that it is intuition that sets and controls the way to handle a problem.

Nevertheless, some may argue that proofs – methods already drawn to us – are

sufficient in order to acknowledge problems. For instance: mathematics has long been an area of knowledge solving great mysteries. Isaac Newton, one of the most recognized people in the world of science, has enriched life by his brilliant discoveries with the help of mathematics. He enabled us to understand concepts that are nowadays used all the time. For example, his invention/discovery of calculus, which I tend to have a lot of interest in, can be applied in any engineering, economics and many other professions. Even though mathematics is a broad topic, the critical thinking required stays consistent, but may be used differently in the way the problem is approached. Intuition may therefore be contradicted by the power of numbers – even multiple times – which means that, mathematics is a shape shifter. A hammer may be the easiest tool to use when the problem is a nail, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t use a rock or even a screwdriver to pin the nail. It simply might take more time and a different approach; this is what mathematics is all about.

When ‘The World’ becomes a topic of interest, two ways of knowing must be

contrasted against each other in this essay: language vs. sense perception, where language defines the world and sense perception makes you understand it. Language, in most cases communications and plans, does not end a situation, nor execute a

task. It just sets up an ‘environment’ where solving problems becomes a certain eased up priority. On the other hand, sense perceptions act completely in the opposite way. It is the trigger that takes action to finish the puzzle. War requires malicious tactics in order to defeat an enemy. Tactics that requires privacy and good communication, but this does not mean that everything will go as planned. Since the first day being taught martial arts by my wise trainer, I am aware of my surroundings at all time and have been developing my senses to another level since then. If ever a soldier, this will be a benefit because I would be able to anticipate a new strategy if the tactics have been miscalculated. Therefore, a cohesion of both language and sense perception, enables the formation of a hybrid way of knowing that can easily be put into juxtaposition with
Maslow’s Hammer quote. Together they form the ultimate hammer: a nail remover on one side and the smashing cylinder shape on the other. This also means that even if a problem is not taken care of properly, it may very well be fixed. The moral of the story is that through language and sense perception joined as one, our capture of knowledge would be less pixelated.

Ethics however, could be contradictory to that previous opinion. Depending on

your culture and the educational system you have been put in, a confrontation with another population may cause a ‘waving of hammers’ lead by an acclamation of whether who is ‘right’. If we look at certain painful and controversial situations happening all around the world, as for example the conflicts between the Israelis and the Palestinians, India and Pakistan, or even more related to myself, the Flemish and the Walloons. No matter what anyone thinks, both sides claim they are ethically ‘right’ and that the other side victimizes them, which is ethically ‘wrong’. Born and living in

the Flemish part of Belgium, but raised by a Walloon/French family is particularly interesting for myself to analyze and judge who I am. I see these types of world conflicts as an ambiguous and divided ‘Yin and Yang’ because it is impossible for me to chose which party I belong to. Factors lean from one side to the other. Now, if one supposedly would have to leave the planet at this very moment, do you think the other party would end up becoming more jubilant? Well, I am not very sure because successful relationships never exists without any altercations, just like how shadows would not exist without light. The most reasonable resolution that could take place would be for both sides to drop their ‘hammers’, and stop treating their adversaries as
‘nails’.

At last, but not least, approaching and examining the aspects of ‘reasoning’ in

problem solving, will clarify and illuminate why our mindset isn’t the stable supercomputer we see it as. Controversially, it is easily disrupted by all kinds of
‘Trojans’. The point being made is that, even though it is what makes us who we are, the brain isn’t always reliable. It can be played by tricks, which would then affect your behavior towards your reasoning. The human race is a very special species. We are wild animals that are presumably educated and well trained. But is it always possible to train a wild animal to become an obedient pet? Maybe through generations of training, but in the end it will still have the killer instinct hidden deep inside. Taking for example the movie ‘Rambo’, it is a minor hyperbole/allegory to what a human can become through brainwashing. Depriving a man from food, sleep and a comfortable environment will break through his moral values and turn him into the callous species

he always was. This means that no matter, ‘who’ you are to him, he’ll see you as ‘what’ you are to him; a prey or a nail waiting to be pinned down.

Baruch Spinoza once stated something that really marked me by its

truthfulness: “Only a stronger emotion can overcome another one. My task is clear: I need to learn how to transform my reason into passion”1. Emotion can be lost by a

manipulation of your reason, but if you are able to transform reason into passion, you will see yourself as a stronger individual mentally. Therefore resist any urges to end a problem when your thought isn’t right; being reflective instead of acting upon reflexes.
Having a hammer in one hand and a nail in the other doesn’t mean that you need to pin straight away.

It is important to understand what the human being is capable of turning into

when his behavior is confronted by some sort of problems. The reason being that the thought process can become dubious and enigmatic making the actions sometimes alarming. Looking at my martial arts trainer and hearing his stories through my head, I realize how he portrays my arguments meticulously. Without being too biased, I know how he thinks and solve his problems. By interconnecting his intuition with his sense perceptions and reasoning, he is able to convert his ethical background into a fastidious passion that he expresses through his language; martial arts. The flow he displays in his aura reflects a master in problem solving, all through the fundamental skills that makes him a ‘sensei’.

Yalom, Irvin. The Spinoza Problem. Trans. Sylvette Gleize. Galaade Editions ed. !
N.p.: Basic Books, 2012. Print.

Bibliography
Maslow, Abraham H. The Psychology of Science: A Reconnaissance. N.p.: n.p., 1966. Print.

Yalom, Irvin. The Spinoza Problem. Trans. Sylvette Gleize. Galaade Editions ed. N.p.: Basic Books,
2012. Print.…...

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