Tag Archives: Yin and Yang


threeLast fall I kicked off a series of math-y posts with On the Count of Three, some thoughts about the groupings of three that occur around us, both naturally and in things we create. The idea of triplets is an obvious progression from the idea of binary opposition — quintessentially expressed in the metaphor of Yin and Yang.

Ever since that post, I’ve been noticing (and then noting) various instances of triplets. It really is a fundamental way reality expresses itself. (And more than just metaphorically — matter literally has three-ness!)

Here are some of the other triples I’ve noted…

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Transcendental Territory

transcendent mindLast time we considered the possibility that human consciousness somehow supervenes on the physical brain, that it only emerges under specific physical conditions. Perhaps, like laser light and microwaves, it requires the right equipment.

We also touched on how Church-Turing implies that, if human consciousness can be implemented with software, then the mind is necessarily an algorithm — an abstract mathematical object. But the human mind is presumed to be a natural physical object (or at least to emerge from one).

This time we’ll consider the effect of transcendence on all this.

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Beautiful Math

Take a moment to gaze at Euler’s Identity:

Eulers Identity

It has been called “exquisite” and likened to a “Shakespearean sonnet.” It has earned the titles “the most famous” and “the most beautiful” formula in all of mathematics, and, in a mere seven symbols, symbolizes much of its foundation.

Today we’re going to graze on it!

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On the Count of Three

threeThe seventh post I published here, Yin and Yang, introduced my fascination with the Yin-Yang idea of duality, that life is filled with pairs of opposites (left–right, day–night, black–white). Since then I’ve written a number of posts about some of those pairs.

In that first post I mentioned that life was also filled with threes (and some of the other numbers, but especially threes). As we look around, we see an awful lot of things that do come in triplets. Today I thought I’d finally get around to tripping on life’s triples.

Ready? Then: One,… Two,… Three,… Let’s go!

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BB #43 – Anti-Batman

Batman-0Some of those who take their comics seriously and think deep thoughts about them have remarked on the symbiotic relationship between super-heroes and super-villains. They do seem to form yet another Yin-Yang pair (and, as I’ve mentioned many times, we find such pairs many places in life). In fact, many see comics as nothing less than variations on the basic Yin-Yang of good and evil.

There are even those who suggest super-heroes create super-nemeses as necessary mirrors and justification for their existence. There is just enough truth to that to make it seem debatable, but the more common view is that both arise as natural symbols of basic good and evil.

So today’s question: Is the Batman responsible for the Joker (and others)?

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Replicator Redux

Earl Grey

Earl Grey. Hot!

I’ve written about the Yin-Yang of analog versus digital, a fundamental metaphor for how reality can be smooth or bumpy. I’ve applied the idea to numbers, where we see two types of infinity — countable (discrete, digital, bumpy) and uncountable (continuous, analog, smooth). There is also how chaos mathematics says that — the moment we round off those smooth numbers into bumpy ones — our ability to use them to calculate certain things is forever lost.

And I’ve also written about Star Trek replicators and transporters, as well as the monkey wrench of the hated holodeck. According to canon, all three use the same technology (which raises some contradictions for the holodeck).

Today, for Science Fiction Saturday, I want to tie it all together in another look at transporters and replicators!

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Digital & Analog Sports

Yin and Yang 2 (by MAMJODH on Flickr)I’ve written several times about the many places we see the idea of a Yin and Yang duality played out in the real world. Even the application of the Yin and Yang concept has a Yin (of true opposites) and a Yang (of thing and not-thing). For example, the opposite of light is not-light, but the opposite of positive is negative.

One of the true opposites is the idea of analog versus digital or, more generally, of continuous versus uneven. Recently I was thinking about the differences between various sports, and I realized there’s a connection to the “smooth or bumpy” distinction I wrote about a while back. Looked at in terms of play, some sports are essentially continuous while others are not.

It turns out that some sports are “analog” while others are “digital.”

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Smooth or Bumpy

vu metersLast time I wrote about analog recording and how it represents a physical chain of proportionate forces directly connecting the listener to the source of the sounds. In contrast, a digital recording is just numbers that encode the sounds in an abstract form. While it’s true that digital recordings can be more accurate, the numeric abstraction effectively disconnects listeners from the original sounds.

In the first month of this blog I wrote about analog and digital and mentioned they were mutually exclusive Yin and Yang pairs (a topic I wrote about even earlier — it was my seventh post).

Today I want to dig a little deeper into the idea of analog vs. digital!

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Johari Window

Johari-1One of the first blog articles I wrote concerned the idea of Yin and Yang. It’s a topic I’ve touched on several times since (and revisited in particular talking about men and women). I reference the concept so often, because I think the duality of opposing concepts is a fundamental truth about the universe.

It’s not the only truth, of course, but it’s a very useful way of seeing things and understanding them. We see duality everywhere! Sometimes it’s something versus the lack of something (heat/cold, light/dark, full/empty).  Sometimes it’s truly opposing pairs (north/south, positive/negative, male/female).

Today I’d like to expand on the concept and tell you about the Johari Window.

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Venus & Mars

A while back I wrote about Yin & Yang and how some opposites are truly opposing (positive and negative) while others are actually the presence and lack of a thing (light and dark, for example). In that article I cited men & women as being genuine opposing pairs, as you can’t consider either one the absence of the other.

That, understandably, generated some comments. Many would not choose to see women & men as being opposites at all, but as two variations on the theme of human. I think that is absolutely correct. Our two human sexes have far more in common than they do in opposition. (And note that gender is a different concept than sex. Gender is about how your mind works, about who you are; sex is about your genetic code.)

And yet… Anyone who lives in the real world knows that the “Mars & Venus” thing has some substance.
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