Why do we as humans make lists ?
The best-selling author and philosopher Umberto Eco has some interesting ideas about why they’re so important to humans.
In this interview, Eco explained:
“The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order — not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists […].
The list is the mark of a highly advanced, cultivated society because a list allows us to question the essential definitions. The essential definition is primitive compared with the list.”
Making lists helps us to make sense of the world around us.
It’s a great way to create order and feel less overwhelmed.
What kind of lists do we usually make ?
According to Eco, the lists are not something new.
“Wherever you look in cultural history, you will find lists. In fact, there is a dizzying array: lists of saints, armies and medicinal plants, or of treasures and book titles. Think of the nature collections of the 16th century.”
Nowadays, when we struggle to express ourselves or when we need to remember something , we use lists.
15+ list ideas to get you started
If you don’t know where to start, here is a list of 15+ ideas:
Bonus: Lists for special occasions
- When considering a new project
Seth Godin advises you in this blog post to make three lists:
- A list of everything that has to be true for this to be a good project
- A list of all the skills you don’t have that would be important for this project to work (things you can learn, or hire)
- A list of everything you’re afraid of, or things that are essential and that are out of your control
- When you want to tackle any issue
The List of 100 is a powerful technique that you can use to “generate ideas, clarify your thoughts, uncover hidden problems or get solutions to any specific questions you’re interested in”.
Extra Bonus: the map used to write this article
I made a map within Idretis to prepare and write this article, and you can view it here: