Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Perplexing Matter

If four cars come to a four-way stop simultaneously*, which one has right-of-way? This perfectly illustrates why a single perspective can not provide “absolute” truth. Each driver will look to his right and claim that that particular car has right-of-way. Trouble is, all 4 are to the right of somebody. It seems all of them have right-of-way. Or perhaps none of them? HUH?

*Strictly speaking, the idea of simultaneity is problematic. There is actually only 1 perspective from which the cars arrive simultaneously due to the finite speed of light. The order of each car's arrival thus depends on any given observer's position relative to each of the four stop signs. In this case, it is impossible for all 4 drivers to agree on the order of arrival, this of course precluding all of them from agreeing on a simultaneous arrival. This muddies things up further! Let's see how.....

If one were to imagine a traffic cop stationed in the middle of this intersection and it appears to him that all 4 cars arrive simultaneously, how will this appear to each car's driver? It will appear to be and actually will be erroneous. Reason being, since each car's driver is closest to his respective stop sign, he actually does get to the intersection before the others because their light, and hence their actual arrival events, are slightly delayed due to light's finite speed.

If one were to analogize a bit, a nice corollary can be made to the way we view conflict. Whereas each person instinctively views a given conflict from his perspective, could it be that each perspective might be right even though there is contradiction as is illustrated in the "stop-sign stalemate"? In this way the "traffic cop", who determines the simultaneous arrival of all 4 cars, can objectively declare a stalemate in determining who has right-of-way.

Extrapolate this onto many arguments and I believe this same principle holds true. Whereas each side of a conflict passionately believes its argument is right, maybe they are both right as might be viewed by an unbiased judge (perhaps it requires a bit of naive dreaming to even imagine there being a genuinely unbiased judge)? In which case we have a stalemate. What might be the best course of action then?

To realize that quite possibly NOBODY has THE RIGHT ANSWER! But we cannot seem to accept this wisdom. For we are far too identified with pride and ego to acquiesce. As such, we must fight all the while claiming God and/or principle is on our side! But as I've just pointed out, maybe there is no "rightful" winner. Maybe it is in actuality nothing but a stalemate?

And here I leave you with the perfect pretext for almost all conflict and argument: the purported right/wrong dichotomy. It simply must be conjured up.....to provide moral justification for it.

See link below for further discussion on the right/wrong dichotomy:

How About Illegalizing Indoctrination

No comments:

Post a Comment