Dialectical diversions

Our understandings lay claim to the facts on the understanding that those facts can be characterised by their consistency – inferring that even as things can be seen to change over time, the nature of that change forms a pattern of consistencies underpinned by a natural lawfulness and immutable truth. However, it is our conceptualisations of fact, rather than the facts themselves, that require ‘their truth’ to be free of contradiction. Meanwhile, the everyday is replete with factual contradictions that we purposely overlook in favour of a perceived logical integrity – a logic we claim to inherit from a nature that apparently has no purpose in it. Likewise, life is seen to be a derivative of an unliving nature that is both changed and unchanged – a contradiction that remains embedded in the very stuff of our DNA, understood as the unliving stuff of life. Furthermore, quantum mechanics reveals that our world is built upon, indeed depends upon, a raft of stark factual anomalies.

Normally, we habilitate the factual contradictions by making them inter-personal – by supplementing our observations with theories and opinions by which we variously agree or disagree with one another. And the more we expect the truth to be either one thing or the other, the more those perspectives tend to polarise. So the paradoxes holding truths in contradiction get assimilated as factors of ideas in opposition. Then, by rationalising different points of view, we move to mould the facts and ideas into an intellectual consistency, albeit hypothetical – as if, from a synthesis of our contentions and disputations, truth might emerge to resolve contradiction and uphold our reasoning. Thereby we affirm, in applying that synthesis to our observations of reality, that the facts show us truths that cannot be inconsistent – one thing and another – lest we abandon sound reason in countenancing a nature that can be both mindless and aware, or an earth beneath our feet that is both round and flat.

Mike Laidler








– being natural,

‘nature’ redefined.








– being otherwise,

‘being’ redefined.

©Mike Laidler


Does nature give us a heart or do we give a heart to nature?  Does a genetic basis to our being mean that the genes can show us what we are like?  If we can find a genetic cause for the things we do, does it mean that the genes are doing it for us and the ‘doer’ doesn’t really change anything?  Is the fact of change identifiable beforehand in its precursors?  Does the attribution of change to its causes allow us to equate new facts to old?  Does a physical foundation to everything show us everything there is to see, or do we live in a universe of parallel realities – of planets and persons, objects and subjects, bodies and minds, causes and effects – in a universe becoming more than it was?

Then what about hearts and stones – what about the emergence of compassion amidst the consolidations of dust that makes up the fabric of ‘things in existence’?  How do the impersonal facts of nature become personal?  Are we compassionate because of our biological make-up, because it features first in biology, as biology – and does this explain the anomalous fact of compassion in nature?  Is nature pulling our heartstrings, or has a change come about through the person of the doer – a change that gives the push-pull of genes and environments something to work on – a change that becomes evident in the accompanying facts and causes, but only because they are accompanied, because the doer must first occasion the fact of the doing, seeing or feeling.

Mike Laidler