One of the more pointed sort of matters I tend to ponder often is the idea of the bounded rationality of mankind, a subject that tends to come to mind for a wide variety of reasons often. At times the musing about the bounded rationality of mankind is no more than a recognition of the fact that like all human beings I am a person of my own quirks and irrationalities as well. We must all recognize the fact that we spring from a common humanity with unequal but by no means entirely incomparable capacity for reason as well as passion. Both reason and passion are matters of which we should feel a great deal of gratitude and praise, for passion without reason is bigoted and reason without passion is cruel and inhumane, and it is a balance between the two that allows us to preserve the best aspects of our capacity for intellect as well as our compassionate hearts. To be intelligent without humanity or compassionate without reason is not a desirable outcome for us.
The bounds of our rationality may be large, but they are not infinite, as much as we might wish that to be the case. Similar boundaries exist in other realms, such as this blog for example. As of right now, the ratio of blog views divided by the population of a nation varies over six orders of magnitude between the territory with the highest view ratio (the Falkland Islands) and the nation with a view ratio nearly 100 times lower than any other nation (China, leaving the next lowest nation, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the dust). Despite the wide boundaries that cover the space in between, there are boundaries nonetheless, as there is no nonzero space below China, as it is not possible to have a lower amount of views per population than one view in the largest population on the globe (India, the next most populous nation, has over 1000 blog views and is therefore far above China despite its own large population, and the United States, at tens of thousands of views, has one of the highest view ratios despite its massive population). This is not too distinct from the fact that light itself is contained in photos and that matter and energy are quanta that have discrete ranges and limits beyond which they cannot go if they are present at all, even if this range is very small.
As vanishingly small as the levels on the low end of the scale (the lowest possible view ratio, that held by China, is in the neighborhood of 10^-10, a very low number, while the highest is still rather small at 10^-4 at present). We all have a finite capacity of how many balls we can juggle at the same time, a finite number of how many communications and how much information we can sort through and determine the importance of at a single time. Part of being wise and discerning is knowing one’s limitations, and working on ways to succeed despite those limitations, whether they involve cooperation with others and a coordination of efforts, or whether they involve an allocation of scarce resources to do that which is most necessary and proper and to avoid that which can be harmful to one’s goals and objectives. Since everything we have (especially time, but also money) is within limits, we have to be conscious of those limits and do the best we can to work within the boundaries that we have, while we seek greater resources all the same (with the knowledge that no matter how great those resources are, they will never be infinite so long as we are human beings subject to the limits of this physical creation). Our longings may be infinite, but our resources are not.
So far the sort of boundaries I have been speaking of have been absolute boundaries that cannot be crossed. When we look at the question of boundaries that we ought not to cross for the sake of propriety or virtue, those boundaries are still more circumscribed. There are many things that it is possible to do that it is not just to do, or right to do, and a person who is decent and upright will put constraints on their own speech and action out of love and concern for other people, even if at times those constraints may seem unreasonable. It is only intolerable and troublesome when such constraints reach the point that it is not possible to behave in such a way that will not cause difficulties. At some point, it is all too easy for even blameless behavior to be taken in such a way as to make it impossible to avoid causing offense because someone is simply so sensitive that anything is too much. Such situations are regrettable, and as someone who has a fair amount of sensitivity myself, I tend to do my best (whether that best is good enough or not) to respect and honor the sensitivities of others. But everything has its limits, whether our limits to put up with others, or our limits to act in such a way as to respect someone else who is being unreasonable. Everything has its bounds, and it is easy for us to cross those boundaries, whatever our intentions, and however small those actions may be. Such is the life that we live, though.