Nonduality and either/or thinking


Science is the attempt to make the chaotic diversity of our sense-experience correspond to a logically uniform system of thought…The sense-experiences are the given subject-matter. But the theory that shall interpret them is manmande…hypothetical, never completely final, subject to question and doubt.” – Albert Einstein.

The world we have made as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far creates problems we cannot solve at the same level at which we created them” – Albert Einstein

The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” – Einstein

Nonduality may be a very important term for our time. Since most of our logic systems and most of our knowledge are based on either/or binary thinking one way to move towards a balance may be to recognize the phenomena of nonduality in our systems.

“The term nondual is a literal translation of the Sanskrit term advaita, (meaning not two). That is, things remain distinct while not being separate.”…”Nondualism may be viewed as the belief that dualism or dichotomy are illusory phenomena.” (from Wikipedia)

The nonduality of matter and energy. Matter = energy = matter

Einstein was well-versed in philosophy and I can’t help but to wonder if he was aware of this term. I am inclined to believe that he used nondual thinking in his theory of matter and energy. When Einstein came up with E=mc2 he basically explained that matter is energy in another state. Or more specifically, how matter reverts back to energy when you place it at the speed of light.

In pedestrian terms, matter and energy are just two states of energy- just like water, has the states of liquid, solid and a gas. This may be hard to understand when you’re trained to think of everything through either/or thinking. Through either/or thinking you usually get stuck in arguments like: “Well, is it matter or is it energy?”

Multiple states and process
The belief that conceptual duality, nonduality, pluralism and holism are mirrors of the cycle of convergence-divergence. In other words, one process may be incomplete without the other. Together, these tendencies form a cycle. That cycle is just one of many others.

Challenging thingness

Everything is changing – but our human tendency is to attempt to trap everything into boxes, into words, into documents, into static states. Our tendency is to interpret processes as static, one or two-dimensional ‘things’. This is another form of reductionism. The same way we attempt to explain the entirety of life with a single frame of time. Or our tendency to explain the entirety of human experience with a few cells or genes.

Of course, static thinking has functional value but it also has anti-functional value and degrees of value in between. Static thinking may help us in one way but it may hinder and ‘trap’ us in other ways. We need to be aware of this changing dynamic. All elements of life are part of ever-expanding and ever-changing processes – we can deny this – but we do it with high risk.

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” -Einstein


Wikipedia: Either/Or fallacy >>

Wikipedia “nondualism” >>

Wikipedia “monism” >>

Wikipedia “reductionsm” >>

Wikipedia “pluralism” >>


Einstein quotes >>
-Daniel Montano
Keyword: Daniel Montano, Dan Montano, user experience design, information architect

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2 thoughts on “Nonduality and either/or thinking

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