Linear of course, one might say as by first reaction. Let’s examine this issue in the way humans deal with ground elevations.
All cultures and languages have ways to describe landmarks, such as rivers, mountains, and hills.
Features inferior to some 1000 feet above ground are normally given the denomination ‘hill’ in English (‘Loma’ in Spanish, ‘Bukit in Malay, ‘Tepe’ in Turkish, to cite a few) compared to features taller than 1000 feet (‘mountain’ in English, ‘Berg’ in German, ‘Sierra’ in Spanish, ‘Dag‘ in Turkish, ‘Gunung’ in Malay). The differentiation honors shape and size, makes perfect sense and occurs on an apparent linear scale.
Let’s examine what happens when humans deal with extreme landscapes: flat lands and very high mountains.
One extreme example is Holland, where the highest natural elevation is a few hundred feet, and where the majority of the land lies within 15 feet above and below sea level.
Here we see that both the language and thinking have been reset, and that words such as the German ‘Berg’ have been adapted to characterize ground elevations of 10 feet. Which means that our mind can deal with a positive ground anomaly of 10 feet in the same way as it deals with a ground elevation of 10000 feet in other areas. Amazing. This might suggest perception could be processed on a logarithmic scale, after all.
Let’s look at the other end of the scale. Let’s look at big mountains. In Mexico and parts of South America the biggest mountain ranges are called ‘Sierra Madre.’ These mountains were obviously too big to be described on any logical scale, and can only be compared to the big Mama. It tells a story about what is big in Mexico, and who is really in charge of everything.
In the Himalayas, the highest mountains are seen as the realm of the Gods, and carry their names.
In summary: At the middle of the scale we think linear, toward the edges logarithmic and toward the infinite we use aphorisms that are deeply enshrined within our collective soul.
© 2004 by Franz L Kessler