There was no room for the awkward in Aristotle’s logic.. But reality is full of it.

Oh true – I had forgotten about the Babylonians.  But I like stopping at ancient Greece for the continuity factor.  I think of it as bandwidth: The more parallel pieces of information, the more complete a picture can be made.  Or, the wider the hose, the more water can flow at once.

We have many strong ties to cultures more ancient than the Greek philosopher period – but none quite so strong.  There is less of a necessity for a revivalist movement for ancient Greece because we’re still living it.  The philosophers never stopped being taught someplace – it has always been a living way of thinking.

It’s a little hard though to place modern ideas of the scientific method to Aristotle though. I’m not so hard on him – the reason 2300+ years of Western ideas can be traced DIRECTLY to Aristotle is that his ideas were powerful enough to remain relevant in some way, shape or form for that long.  The same holds true for the ideas of Christianity, or Buddhism – who have similar continuities – they hit upon some great truths that continue to work for many people.

Even the modern Scientific Method would be nothing without Aristotle’s Logic.  it’s BASED upon it!

I wish we had followed Plato a little more instead, but his ideas are too “heady” for common people, whereas Aristotle could easily be translated into the common worlds of law and science where a certain level of precision is desired.  Since law and science are forever changing from generation to generation, never staying the same, Aristotlian logic is quite robust and useful.

However, a single flaw in it has carried through the millenia.

“The law of excluded middle” written in modern times as “negation as failure”.

A contradiction must be solved to true or not true.  Or false and not false.  Binary.

If there is a contradiction, it is wrong until it is eliminated.

The trouble with that – is that is NOT how the Universe works and other logic systems (including basic human experience) has room for “I don’t know” or for contradictions where two seemingly incompatible things are perfectly compatible with each other and exist simulatneously.

You can love and hate someone at the same time..  Or love and not care.  Seemingly opposite things that exist perfectly well within us.

This flaw carries through to everything, inclluding math and science, our currently most treasured methods of determining “This is True”.

It is the reason why we get so confused over something so simple as quantum superimposition.  Or the idea that there is “Good OR Evil” which is popular in our entertainment in the West.

Our superheros are a great example: Western superheros are Good and fight Bad.

Eastern superheros – their equivilants in Manga and Anime – are never quite so clean cut as our Superman and Batman.  We allow for a tortured past to explain their REASONS, but in the end, they are always good, or they have turned dark…. but never that awkward uncomfortable inbetween.

There was no room for the awkward in Aristotle’s logic..  But reality is full of it.  Acceptance of awkward as normal or uncertainty or imprecision is the key, rather than “right OR wrong”.

To me, that is one of the hardest hurdles of 2300 year old thinking we have to overcome.  A great system – very useful, but I believe it needs to be de-embedded from our thinking for further progress in humanity to go forth.  And it won’t be easy.


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