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Recently, I was listening to someone talk about some complicated topics in philosophy. Some who were listening along with me did not understand the intricacies of the speaker’s argument while I did only because I had already read a lot about something similar. I found myself appreciating the speaker’s strength in weaving the argument more than I might have done had I been listening to it alone in my room. That’s when it occurred “What am I doing?” After spending days thinking about it, these are my thoughts on what it means to appreciate someone or something.

As of now, I cannot claim all forms of Appreciation have this problem. I hope you can get a sense of what kind of appreciations I am talking about as you read along. I also avoid the question “Why do different people appreciate different objects? Or in its raw form “Why do people have different favorite color?” as I feel these questions are way too large in scope

Fundamental requirement
What is the most fundamental aspect of appreciation? Something if you remove, you are rendered unable to appreciate.
                      “I understand / know the object being appreciated”
I choose this statement as the fundamental pre-requisite because if you do not understand the object for eg., music, painting, experience you will have no frame of reference to appreciate. Have you ever called your friend to a concert or a museum or a sports event and heard them refuse saying “I don’t know enough to appreciate it. I am not coming.” This is the back door through which our ego sneaks in sometimes. A jazz music fan who does not “appreciate” Heavy Metal will almost never consider attending a heavy metal concert. This is a vague way of saying “I don’t understand it. I am unable to appreciate it. So, I am not coming.” While the object of appreciation might be music, it does look like the jazz fan is the more important subject discussed here.

In a similar manner, when a heavy metal fan does attend a heavy metal concert and says “That was the best metal performance I saw” he vaguely means “I understand heavy metal music. I am able to appreciate it.” Again, the emphasis seems to be more on the metal fan than the band who performed.

Breaking down appreciation
This is my version of fundamental messages being conveyed through appreciation in the order of necessity.

When someone says “I appreciate xx.” Or “xx is really good” they mean
             1. “I understand and know xx and what it means.
             2. I have already had experiences similar to xx or xx exactly.
             3. Of all the similar, related experiences I have had I like this xx more or the most.

If a person expresses the appreciation to primarily express the 3rd part of the breakdown, I guess that is the usual or intended form of appreciation. However, there is a chance especially when others present do not understand xx, people express appreciation primarily to emphasize the 1stpart of the breakdown and sometimes the 2nd part. This is where I feel appreciation is used to boost one’s ego more than for any other purpose. Next time you really appreciate something, try to develop awareness as to what exactly are you trying to communicate by your appreciation. Of course, do what you will with the awareness but be aware.  

This post first appeared on Thoughts & Ideas - Old And New !, please read the originial post: here

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