Innovating the way we think: Binary logic the “either / or” fallacy


Binary logic usually splits inquiry into two columns:

• Black vs. White
• Right vs. Wrong
• Good vs. Bad
• Pro vs. Con
• Option “A” or Option “B”
• True or False
• “you’re either, with us or against us”

I see this binary logic in a lot of places. I see in in the college level textbooks, in philosophy, ideology, religion, business, politics, critical thinking, media, science etc.

This type of “high contrast” thinking usually ignores the “gray’s” between the black and white.

This type of thinking may be forcing and suffocating our thinking into two boxes. It may limit our questions, our explorations, our imagination, our creativity, it may limit our answers, and our analysis.

Binary thinking may construct a wall of opposition between dialectical and complimentary entities.

Binary logic may be a recipe for a closed thought system, extremist ideologies, closed dogmatic systems, misunderstandings, manipulation, misinterpretation, generalization, stereotypes and many other social factors that may contribute to social problems.

As innovators we may want to open up our cognitive system to identify other analytical systems besides binary logic.

We can do this by continuously reminding ourselves of:
– time
– continuous change (of all systems)
– relativity of frameworks
– perspective
– cultural factors
– relativity of perception
– difference in context
– …

Once we “graduate” from binary thought we can continue opening our thought and getting out of more boxes that are continuously formed within our macro systems.

Opening our thought system is a life-long process – we never reach a point when we are “done” or where we reach “perfection”. Perfection may not exist. I think there is no thinking nirvana, no thouht “elightment” goal.

The goal may be simply the continuous struggle towards the ever-elusive clear thinking.

Our commitment to continuously change the way we think, to continuously challenge the “cognitive boxes” is essential to human survival, human “evolution” and our continuos adaptation.

This posting is based on writing from my unpublished book Thought: A Multispective Overview. -©2006 Daniel Montano


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