Analog Thinking In a Binary World


Binary Thinking in an Analog World


   You've probably noticed the two versions of the title. Which way is it supposed to be?

   That depends on how you want to look at it. One describes the problem. The other points to the solution.  

   If someone tries to tell you that there are just two kinds of people in this world, don't believe them. Whatever those "two kinds" may be, they are almost always just two extremes of a range of possibilities. There is only one kind of person, although we come in different models, styles, shapes and sizes. Any character trait has is opposite, but almost everyone falls somewhere in between. All traits of personalities are potentially present in each of us to some degree. Every genius is part idiot; every idiot is part genius.
   There are two ways of looking at anything. They are:

Binary: Either this or that (much the same as either this or not-this)
    e.g..    He is a bad man. They are friendly people. She is not a welder. Turn the radio off.
Analog: this compared to or in relation to that; or, more or less of this or that
    e..g.  Ryan is younger than Michelle. This stew needs more salt. Turn the radio down.

   Binary thinking is oppositional & impositional. Analog thinking is relational & integrational.

   Many characteristics, especially human ones, are not yes or no, on or off sorts of things. They cannot be represented in a definite, binary way, e.g. "good guy" or "bad guy," but comparatively, as a degree, fraction, percentage or proportion. The proportion is usually varying at that, depending upon circumstances or moods. So on the good/bad scale or any other measure of character such as introverted/extroverted or considerate/selfish,  the assessment  always ranges somewhere between no and yes; not definitely one or the other, but somewhere in between. If there are "just two kinds of people," they are both found within each and every one of us.

  This error of binary thinking occurs not only with regard to personality. It applies to our observations of the physical world as well. We tend to describe the physical world digitally as having fixed properties, but what happens in it is life itself, which is relational, creative and intentional, and changes everything. The "solid" stuff is only that which Life has built for itself somewhere along the line.  Yet we tend to favor looking at everything in a digitally rigid way. In fact, we tend to build our institutions and societies that way, and it usually leads to compartmentalization, segregation, exclusion and conflict.

We need to develop the habit of seeing from both sides, to find the truth that always lies somewhere in the middle.


 (to be continued . . .)



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