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Real Dichotomies: Some things have no point of negotiation.

November 15, 2009

Real Dichotomies: Some things have no point of negotiation.

We do not have to look far to find false dichotomies in this world: ‘With us or against us’; ‘Liberal or Conservative’; ‘Progressive or Reactionary’ and so forth. Yet it would be intellectually remiss if we were to assume that everything is in a state of flux where every answer is somehow defined as the most perverse interpretation of those words ‘the magic middle road.’ Whilst I am not going to start debating the value of Buddhism I will say I am yet to meet one who is willing to negotiate away every principle. They have the ‘4 Noble Truths’ and they have the ‘8 Fold Path’ as tenements to live by. I leave the rest to research at own leisure.

If Dichotomies are real absolutes to the exclusion of an opposite position then how are they determined? In mathematics it is simple: you start with denominator of 1 as being the basic building block then do things to it. In Logic Circuits it is the same principle. You start with the premise of Logic 1 or Logic Zero, do stuff to them and then apply what is called a Truth Test. We know that in the mathematics universe 1 plus 1 equals 2, 2 plus 2 equals 4 and so forth. We can also derive other information such what 2 plus 2 cannot equal. Hence we have our first logical Dichotomy. Whilst some existential philosophers may argue over rare anomalies the rest of the world needs this assumption of mathematical certainty to function. We can apply creative mathematics to our accounts so long as no one notices but if do so in the design of a Jumbo Jet then it will be noticed.

In society we have a similar issue of trying to make it function. Forget about functioning and just try to think about survival. There are many competing versions of absolutes vying for dominance. Not just moral absolutes but absolutes in all spheres from engineering standards to which side of the road to drive on. Some of these positions are arrived at via negotiation and other by the enforcement of rules and legislation. Yet it is moral dichotomies that cause the greatest controversy. Why? Because they are what determine the absolute principle upon what the society is based. They are the logical 1 or logic Zero upon which all other principles are derived.

People often confuse themselves over the word morality. They do not see a word but a concoction that if swallowed could lead to you becoming either Dr Jeckle or Mr Hyde. Some assume that they are in position of not having to swallow the formula and thus avoid and of the undesirable side effects. Nice try, but in doing you have merely switch to a new formula called: Nihilism, Anarchism or many of the other ‘isms’ that try to claim that they have no moral bounds. By virtue of exclusion we can only ever accept a new moral building block but never ‘no‘ moral building block. So unless you spend your entire life in a vegetative mental state you are going to be making moral choices based upon a moral structure that you built with basic moral building blocks that you selected. Even to take the pure rational viewpoint is to use the ideology of rationalism as your building block. Those that say ‘Science will provide us with all the answers to moral questions’ have already unscientifically decided that science is the moral building block. They have accepted the morality of scientism which should never be confused with actual Science. Hence Communism has Communist morality, Nazism has Nazi morality and even Satanists have Satanic morality.

Whilst people may postulate about what constitutes a moral decision as opposed to a rational decision they often miss the point that they are making a moral choice about whether something is in fact a moral choice.

Human Rights’ is an area that has many people fighting over what should and should not be included. Simply stating noble beliefs does not always solve the problem. The American declaration of independence contains some of the most noble words ever written yet it was not enough to make many of its signatories to give up owning slaves. Today the actual thought of any one owning slaves is considered to be universally repugnant. It is considered to be a real dichotomy because you cannot own a human as a slave and not own a person as a slave at the same time. The ownership of slaves is a real dichotomy because it is either correct or it is incorrect according the morality that you have adopted. Other dichotomies exist but such as: what constitutes a human and who should make that determination? Yet before people start making vague pronouncements they will never be free of eternal conflict in such a situation. You will be doing so based upon the morality that you have chosen using the moral building block that you have selected.

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