Quaker Universalist Conversations

False dichotomies

An excerpt from Chapter Five of Stephen Jay Gould’s Time’s Arrow, Time’s Cycle: Myth and Metaphor in the Discovery of Geological Time (1987).

Iceberg “We often try to cram our complex world into the confines of what human reason can grasp, by collapsing the hyperspace of true conceptual complexity into a single line, and then labeling the ends of the line with names construed as polar opposites—so that all richness reduces to a single dimension and contrast of supposed opposites. All these dichotomies are false (or incomplete) because they can capture but a fraction of actual diversity….” (191)