It was a number of years ago that the book you see pictured here on the right caught my eye. I was wandering around a bookstore, as book-lovers do, seeing what there was to see (and possibly buy). This may surprise you, but I’ve always enjoyed a good debate, so the book’s topic seemed attractive and a nice change of pace from baseball and science books or SF novels.
Plus: Aristotle, Lincoln and Homer Simpson! Who could resist that? A glance at a few of the pages showed an easy and breezy open writing style that went down nicely, and the bits I read were quite intriguing. I snagged it thinking it would be right up my alley, and that I’d enjoy it thoroughly.
I never got more than a third of the way through it!
I think, I think.
A bit more than three years ago I began this blog intending to write about matters of existence and consciousness (and science and computing). Since then I’ve tried on other hats, stories from my past and present, opinions and views about society, even the occasional post above movies or TV. But those meatier topics — the ones the blog is named for — still attract me.
There are three problems, though. Firstly, other sites specialize in that sort of thing and do it very well. Secondly, they aren’t topics that attract visitors — my meaty posts get even fewer reads than my less weighty posts. And thirdly, I may not be as good as explaining things as I would like to be.
That said, sometimes I just can’t help myself, so here we go again.
Last time I talked about opposing pairs: Yin and Yang, light and dark, north and south. I mentioned that some pairs are true opposites of each other (for example, north and south), whereas other pairs are actually a thing and the lack of that thing (for example, light and dark). Such pairs are only opposites in the sense that an empty cup is the opposite of a full cup.
However in both cases, the opposites stand for opposing ideas; two poles of polarity, and it is polarization that I address today. Specifically I want to discuss a way of thinking that helps avoid it.
It’s easy to divide the world into sides. Many sayings begin with, “There’s two kinds of…” It seems easier to break things down into opposing points of view than to consider a variety of views. It seems easier to compare features between two things than twenty. Our court system has two sides and so does our political system (despite many attempts to create a viable third party).