The Dichotomous World.

My densest statement of “the problem”, with minimum technical language, is as follows:

We CLASSIFY all that exists in the world in binary chops. That is, things are repeatedly subdivided [this] <> [not-this]. This is necessary for efficient organisation of sets of things in our world. (In properly scientific contexts, the analytic clarity is fundamental to defining and testing objective knowledge both logically and empirically.)

This is a good thing.

However if we also IDENTIFY individuals and things in the world according to these convenient classes, our language and discourse emphasises these “cuts” and crowds out the common aspects. (Current received wisdom in serious matters of everyday life is that we should attempt to be as scientifically objective as possible. Identifying individuals in natural language according to distinct classes. It’s a recipe for polarisation.)

This is a bad thing.

Slightly more elaborated with some technical terms and examples:

All taxonomic classifications of what exists in the world (ie ontology) are binary. That is, things are classified [this] <> [not-this] as many cuts as your Aristotelian knife permits. This “classical” objective model is what Wordsworth (and the romantic movement generally) feared when he wrote “we murder to dissect”.

This “cladistic taxonomy” is good, useful, efficient and necessary for organising clades (types, sets of things) in the world, the arrangements of our world.

BUT it is very dangerous for identifying individuals of those sets. It focusses on their differences, tends to dichotomise and polarise, crowd out the common ground. Now this too can be useful and effective if it’s a campaign, a battle, you’re fighting – temporarily, hopefully. But if all we do is identify people and things by their interest group – even self-identified ones like LGBTI / green / flat-earthers, you name it – we are setting ourselves up for one long series of wars rather than actually living life.

We need to find language that untangles the classification / identification confusion in common parlance. BUT “scientific” objective language has become the norm, the expectation of all walks of life, not just science itself. (Think WMD Dossier!)

People object to science not because they are anti-science “fruit loops” (another clade) but because this dichotomous scientific language has infected the whole of life. (See poets). Many people whose life’s work has grappled with finding alternative models and languages have been so frustrated they’ve gone on to become fruit loops.

Who knows, I may be one 😉

[Hat tip to Myles Power and his tweets dissecting an undoubted fruit-loop for inspiring this post.]

[Post Note: WMD?

Most successful …. until trust was destroyed by “fake” attempt to objectify reasons for military action. Just sayin’]

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