For a while I’ve been collecting paradoxes. It seems that for any type of topic you dive into, you’ll encounter a set of fundamental paradoxes. A particular issue is rarely black and white. Rather, its consequences depend on what other factors are at play.
Not knowing exactly if something is good or bad, or which way a particular action or choice leads to is unsettling and frustrating when you are trying to make sense of the world.
As I understand it, Eastern cultures and philosophies are more comfortable with paradoxes. Yin-Yan, the icon of much eastern thinking, symbolizes how existence is a dynamic balancing of opposing, intertwined forces. The little dot in each of the forces, show how every truth contains a bit of its exact opposite. Paradoxes are simply a natural part of the way the world works. There’s no single, permanent truth.
My little collection of paradoxes confirms that even very basic questions and mechanisms are indeed rather messy, and I suppose the reason stands out is that most dialogue, argumentation and presentations in the media are clear-cut and absolute. Qualifying a statement by pointing out uncertainties takes time and it blurrs the seductively simple and sharp edge of unquestioning certainty.