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

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