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Critiques of Binary Thinking

February 28, 2010

Yes, I agree that humans tend to fall into binary thinking: us and them, good and bad, true and false, real and fake, and so on.

But not all thinking is binary, especially when it comes to social hierarchies. Medieval Europe was divided into a hierarchy according to which there were at least three key categories: royalty, nobility, and serfs. My college is divided into a rather complex social hierarchy, in which there are much more than three categories: president, board members, vice presidents, deans, division chairs, and so on.

Not all thinking is binary.

I love Mary Douglas, but not everything can be reduced to dirty and clean.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2010 8:18 pm

    Not all thinking is binary.

    So what you’re saying is… things are either binary or they’re not? ;)

  2. March 1, 2010 10:41 am

    To further this train of thought I would argue that dichotomous thinking hinders the thought processes of those that employ it often. This is because it oversimplifies our surroundings and leads to an elementary understanding of social problems.

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