Why Is This A Banana?

In today’s media landscape, you can throw a rock in any direction and hit something that’s partisan and biased.

Whether you believe that “Trump Is Literally Hitler,” or you call him “the god-emperor,” or you’re somewhere in between, there’s a site for you.

But even biased partisans occasionally get things right. For example, CNN wants you to know that a banana is a banana.

And I agree with CNN.

In other news, Hell froze over, there’s peace in the Middle East, and it rained frogs.

But still. A banana is a banana.

Did you ever wonder why a banana is a banana?

Why don’t we consider it two things instead of one? Why not think of it as a peel with a banana inside?

And why couldn’t a banana be a special kind of rabbit? It would be just like all other rabbits, except for being a yellow fruit that’s nothing like a rabbit.

The answer is that we can define words any way we want. We could think of a banana as either of those things. But it would be clumsy, confusing, and impractical.

That’s why a banana is just one thing, and is a fruit instead of a rabbit: it’s useful to think of it in the way that we do.

And that’s why humanity has the general concepts that it does. Millennia of human history have proven that they are useful for the normal purposes of life.

Of course, we’re free to re-define the word “banana” so it applies to anything that’s fruit-related. A banana could then be:

  • An actual banana
  • An apple
  • A tangerine
  • A bunch of grapes
  • A quart of orange juice
  • A fruit smoothie
  • A box of Froot Loops
  • A fruit delivery truck
  • Anything else related to fruit

But then if you asked for a banana, you’d never know what you were going to get.

Of course, such an objection would be made only by banana-phobes who are full of hate. There couldn’t be any other reason. Right?


Check out my book Why Sane People Believe Crazy Things: How Belief Can Help or Hurt Social Peace. Kirkus Reviews called it an “impressively nuanced analysis.”

About N.S. Palmer

N.S. Palmer is an American mathematician.
This entry was posted in Life, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Why Is This A Banana?

  1. J P says:

    If there is money to be made or power to be gained by messing with what is or is not a banana, then it all goes up for grabs.

    But out of curiosity, how do plantains figure into the picture? 😎

    Like

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