Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Drawing Lines_______ _______ _______ _______

This is a multiple part discussion on how we draw lines concerning any number of life's most contentious issues. Project your most passionate issue(s) onto this argument for maximal effectiveness. It will be most easily seen and understood by drawing the letters of the alphabet across a piece of paper.

By drawing lines (especially on the most difficult issues), there is a paradox which crops up with reckless abandon when analyzed rationally and objectively. O.K., take your piece of paper with the letters of the alphabet written across it. It is not difficult to imagine there being 26 people each with a slightly different viewpoint regarding any given matter on a spectrum represented by the letters A through Z. Slightly different in that, though each is certain as to the veracity of his view, he must realistically concede at least a small amount in order to come across somewhat humble and understanding. In this way, his view will likely be agreed upon by those who differ very little in their views.

Meaning, person A will be sufficiently in agreement with person B on any given principle, person B will be sufficiently in agreement with persons A and C on any given principle, person C will be sufficiently in agreement with persons B and D on any given principle, all the way through person Z such that those next to each other anywhere along this spectrum are in general agreement concerning any given principle. This is the inevitable paradox created when one attempts to intertwine discontinuities with continuities.*

As such, suppose person A might be considered a “bleeding-heart liberal" whereas person Z might be considered a “die-hard conservative". Is there anything person A will agree with person Z about aside from their contempt for one another perhaps? Hell no! But if each person agrees with his “neighbors” on either side of himself, amongst whom does this opposition arise? This is essentially what is known as the barber paradox! It can not arise but it must! Or if you prefer, it must arise but it can not!

People instinctively like to draw absolute lines which in turn create this paradox because just about every issue, especially the most difficult ones, brook no discontinuous solutions. They beg for and seem to require continuous ones. There is no discrete point at which any person on either side of himself becomes disagreeable. Yet person A and person Z will undoubtedly disagree on everything!

The answer to this “riddle”, if you will, seems to be either nobody should be in agreement or everybody should be in agreement! But if nobody is in agreement, how in bloody hell could anybody know who is “absolutely” right assuming anybody even is? On the other hand, if everybody is in agreement, it seems everybody can be right in spite of opposing views! HUH? Might it be wise to not care who is right as if rightness were anything more than an illusion created and projected by the ego?

Perhaps one should not let dogma drive his affairs? Stop trying to be right all the time! Many out there will now feel justified in accusing ME of being arrogant and self-contradicting to imply that I am right about nobody being right. I humbly concede that SO DO I!

Other examples of this type of paradox:

Assume the same kind of spectrum as before. Have the left side represent the idea that God will be gracious and merciful to everybody and hence “save” us all and the right side represent the idea that God will only “save” the cream of the crop, if there are any. Imagine, and this is not at all difficult, that people all over the world harbor views spanning this spectrum in a continuous fashion. What might God actually do? How could we ever know this side of death? This is the same problem as before. There is essentially an unbroken “chain of agreement” amongst nearby neighbors along this entire spectrum yet there will undoubtedly be disagreement amongst outsiders. (see next entry for clarification)

Suppose person B agrees with persons A and C and person D agrees with persons C and E. But suppose person A lacks sufficient concordance with persons D and E to agree. Do you see the problem? Apparently, unless an absolute is absolutely absolute, this paradox is unavoidable. But rarely if ever do people see anything as absolutely absolute because there always seem to be at least a few valid exceptions. But a few valid exceptions will only ever beget a few more valid exceptions. Where then must this inclusion of exceptions end? Presumably wherever somebody arbitrarily declares it must end. Will all these “somebodies” be in agreement with one another? Of course not! Who is right then?

*please see blog post entitled “More Uncertainty!” with following link:

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