Philosophy Tuesday

This is a philosophical statement. It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

Beware the false dichotomy.

It is such an easy mental trap to fall into, whether on our own or baited by someone else.

Beware especially during this time of campaigns and campaigning.

For the false dichotomy hides in its veil of rationality and innocuousness, sneaking in and derailing actual thinking.*

It cuts short expansionary, complex, and holistic views and thinking. It eliminates options. It shuts down our brains.

A false dichotomy is any statement presenting two (or occasionally three) options as the only possible available in a given situation or argument or reality.

X, or Y. No continuum. It reduces the multitude of possibilities to simplistic, neatly constrained and contained results only.

A falsieD is easiest to see in the polarized wilds, for that is where they tend to be at their most extreme.

In the wild, they are apt to sound like, “Either we do (or don’t do) this thing, or the something really really bad and irreversible will happen.”

Or they will say, “You are either with us (ie, 100% agreement) or against us.”

Or they present to seemingly unrelated items as automatic and inherent opposites, “Arts vs the Sciences.”

It can even go so far as presenting humans as having to be either “Rational or Emotional.”

But it’s bogus.

Rarely is life that actually neatly wrapped up into discrete and so few boxes of outcomes, and even rarer still are the two boxes so diametrically opposed on the outcome scale.

When we get caught in the trap (or when we try to use this trap on others) we’re restricting our access to real creative solutions or outcomes. We make false enemies and have false battles between them.

It wastes time and it disconnects us from the possibilities that will lead to what it is we truly want.

And while it is most readily visible in the wilds, it can hit us much closer to home as well.

Anytime we are locked in feeling that we HAVE to act a certain way at work, in social situations, with our families, or with society at large, we could be caught in a false dichotomy trap.

I invite us all to be on the lookout for the false dichotomies in our lives, sussing out and calling out those that are presented to us in conversations or advertising or campaigning, and looking at our own certainties that guide our everyday lives.

The world is a rich place. There are thousands of possibilities and ways and opportunities.

It’s unfortunate when we don’t play with them all.


* – Turning it to thoughting at best…