Duality

Golf is Deceptively Simple and Endlessly Complicated.  It satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect.  It is at the same time rewarding and maddening - it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.
Arnold Palmer, The Essence of Golf

 

   The above quote illustrates that there is a duality even to golf.  Ever watch a Disney movie?  There is always a villain.  The last one I watched before writing this is called Enchanted.  It's starts with a beautiful girl waiting for her prince happily singing with her animal friends.  Shortly afterwards you see the inevitable villain, an evil Queen who is determined to prevent the Prince from finding someone so that she will keep the throne.  Disney movies are for children most of the time anyway.  One would think that they would try and keep out scary evil monsters and just have happy songs and beautiful people loving each other.  The fact is that if they did that no one would go to see their movies.  If a Disney movie started with the happy ending there'd be nothing anyone would want to watch unless there was some threat to that happy ending.  Entertainment appears to require a villain to be entertaining.  We want a happy ending, we want true love to triumph but we don't want to watch a show unless there is some villain who threatens to prevent that happy ending.  This one of the many bizarre dualities of this universe.

     Love and caring are two of the most beautiful things in the universe.  To take care of someone there has to be a need to be taken care of.  The kindness of giving charity requires that there is a need for that charity.  The kindness of tending to the sick requires that there be sickness.  Protecting those we love from harm requires that their be the potential for harm to befall them.  The potential for evil and suffering must be there for the potential for good and happiness to be there.  This is the inherent duality of the universe.  According to religion we can escape this duality after death if we obey the laws of the religion and live in eternal bliss in heaven.   The problem with this is if there is no pain in heaven there is no caring in heaven, there is no love.  What is there to do in a place where nothing needs to be done?  What purpose is there to existence there? 

   In the Model Universe web page I create a model universe similar to our own in which organisms can either cooperate with each other or take advantage of each other.  These opposing choices are an example of a duality in the Universe.  The planet we live on exhibits duality.  It has deserts with no water and oceans that are water.  It has ice caps that are cold and an equator that is hot.  Weather is a great example of the duality of our universe.   I went on vacation to a beautiful tropical island swam in the beautiful clear blue water by the beach and then enjoyed resting under the shade of palm trees.  A few hours later I was evacuated from the island because of the approach of a tropical storm to our hotel in Puerto Rico.  The inconvenience to me was just a few days without electrical power and nothing to do.  However the same storm killed thousands of people elsewhere and left rotting dead bodies all over Haiti and survivors desperate for food.  Weather that can be beautiful and warm and make islands in the Caribbean into tropical paradises can also make them into hell.  In December 2004 the paradises near the Indian Ocean were hit by a tsunami caused by an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra.   The title of the New York Post was Paradise Lost and it showed a man weeping with the hand of his dead child grasped in his handThe warmth of the sun that creates paradise fuels the hurricanes that destroy it.  The volcanic forces of the ring of fire that raised Sumatra above the water created the tsunami that killed vast numbers of people there.

    I have a vegetable and flower garden and I notice that there are so many diseases that attack what I try and grow.  Recently beautiful flowers I had planted from seed were attacked and died and the beauty was replaced by a grotesque repulsive ugliness, there is a duality even with flowers.   Roses that have beautiful flowers have thorns which cut us. 

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   They are a vivid example of the duality of the universe.  Seagulls are a beautiful bird that hover by the ocean and that always seemed to me friendly peaceful birds. 

One day I heard a talk about birds in which I was told that seagulls are more dangerous to other birds than hawks are.  I learned that they'll gang up on other birds and fly after them until they drop from exhaustion and then attack them.  This to me is another example of the duality of the Universe, a beautiful graceful gliding bird that to me gave the impression of peace, is a predator.  The lowly caterpillar becomes a butterfly.  That is a duality within a single creature. 

Many of us recoil at the thought of the vampire bat, a bat who will attack animals and humans and suck their blood.

  The vampire bat has another side to his nature though, he is altruistic to other vampire bats.  Vampire bats, for example, share blood with other hungry bats by regurgitating it.  For a vampire bat that's a nice thing to do.

  In addition to nature, the duality of our planet can be seen in the welfare of the people living in it.  It has people who are free and people who are enslaved, people who are well fed and people who are hungry, people who enjoy good health and people who suffer from sickness, people who are young and people who are old.  Although at any given time there is a duality the overall welfare of mankind fluctuates with time.  Solomon Zeitlin in his book Who Crucified Jesus wrote:

     History is an ever-flowing river of events, in which the forces of good and evil struggle for supremacy.  It zigzags through time, winding in and out, submerged during moments of darkness, only to emerge into daylight in happier places.  Names of men and places change, scenes of conflict and individuals vary, but the eternal struggle under new names continues unabated.

    We take for granted that, that a dual world where good and evil are intertwined  is the natural state of things but why is this the natural state of things?  Why isn't earth a planet where the climate is great everywhere, and where everyone is healthy and well fed,, where youth is perpetual and everyone is good?  Most religions teach that heaven is this way but why isn't the world this way?   Since we've mentioned heaven lets imagine what heaven is like.  Nothing bad is supposed to ever happen there.  Everyone is just happy.  What do they do up there?  They don't have to do anything, all one's needs are provided.  Is that a place you want to be?   It must be a very boring place.  According to the Koran heaven is full of beautiful women.  Hmm, I thought beautiful women exist here on earth.  I imagine heaven as a beautiful field with butterflies and mountains and my long lost relatives and friends.  Wait a minute that sounds like earth.

   I imagine hell as a place with bugs that sting and snakes and disease.  Wait a minute, that sounds like earth too.  What if earth is heaven?  What if it is hell also.  What if heaven can't exist without the possibility of hell and vice versa.

     Can we create heaven on earth.  Jamie Glazov wrote that:

the 20th Century tragically revealed in mass pools of human blood, the effort to create paradise on earth always spawns the flames of hell.

    It seems that for there to be birth and new life there has to be death.   Otherwise earth would quickly be overcrowded.  For people to die so that there can be youth, there has to be aging.    For there to be discovery there has to be ignorance.     There can be no doctors that cure disease if there is no disease, their can be no valor or adventure if there is no danger, no kindness and compassion if there is no suffering. For there to be courage there has to be fear.  For their to be loss there has to be possession.  For there to be betrayal there has to be trust.  Evil can't exist without the possibility of good and vice versa.   There is no mountain without a valley and no valley without a mountain.  It may be death is like the flat version of existence and life is the version with the mountains and the valleys.  There has to be the contrast of the mountain for the valley to exist and vice versa.  It may be all the beautiful things in the world that exist, in fact everything that exists requires contrast.  When we feel bad about the negative in our lives or in our minds it may be helpful to consider it as the price of the good.

   The other day I saw the movie Ice Princess and it was exciting to watch the beauty and grace of the skating in the movie, and being into this duality philosophy it occurred to me that the slippery ice that we fall on in winter is what makes possible this beautiful glorious gliding on ice. 

   There is a tour of the Oval office given by President Bush which can be viewed on the internet.  In the tour he discusses the presidential seal.

   In the seal the eagle is clutching olive branches which represent peace in one talon and arrows in the other.  President Bush when he gave the tour said you need a lot of arrows to keep the peace.  That is part of the duality of the universe.

   There is general agreement that atom bombs are bad, yet when the atom bomb was used in Hiroshima Americans didn't think that way.  Jeff Jacoby wrote:

    In Goodbye, Darkness, his memoir of the war in the Pacific, where he had fought (and been severely wounded) as a young Marine, the famed historian William Manchester expressed the prevailing reaction among Americans to news of Hiroshima's destruction. "You think of the lives which would have been lost in an invasion of Japan's home islands a staggering number of Americans but millions more of Japanese and you thank God for the atomic bomb."

   Even the Japanese saw good in the atom bomb.  Jeff Jacoby wrote:

The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, though horrific, was "a golden opportunity given by heaven for Japan to end the war," said Hisatsune Sakomizu, the chief cabinet secretary in the Tokyo government.


Those heartfelt words of gratitude "Thank God for the atomic bomb" later became the title of a celebrated essay by the literary critic Paul Fussel, another veteran of the war. Like everyone else at the time, he regarded the bomb as a blessed reprieve from a death sentence. When he and his comrades learned what the atomic bomb had done to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, "we broke down and cried with relief and joy," Fussel recollected. "We were going to live. We were going to grow to adulthood after all."

   The free will that we have enables us to be good but also enables us to be bad.  Part of what makes a person a wonderful person is that they voluntarily make choices to be good.  They voluntarily make sacrifices for others.  If it wasn't voluntary they would just be automatons carrying out a task, not good people.  Free will enables us to choose to forgive or not forgive, to love or not to love.  If we didn't have that choice there would be no such thing as love.

    Most species are divided into the duality of male and female.  There is a duality to romantic love males and females feel toward each other.  Recently I heard a song from the Operetta the New Moon that talks about the duality of passion.  Here are the relevant lyrics

Softly as in a morning sunrise,
the light of love comes stealing into a newborn day
Flaming with all the glow of sunrise
a burning kiss is sealing the vow that all betray
for the passions that thrill, love, and lift you high to heaven
are the passions that kill, love, and let you fall to hell
so ends the story;

Softly as in a evening sunset
the light that gave you glory
Will take it all away!

    It seems that what makes it possible for us to be all the good things that we can be, necessitates that their be the potential for all the bad things that we can be.  This may explain why history, as described by Solomon Zeitlin is an eternal struggle between good and evil.

   It may be that the more good we do the more potential there is for evil.  Lets say for example a doctor invents a cure for a disease and as a result the population of the earth explodes.  Now there are many more people who can die when the next plague comes around which is a greater evil than if only a few die.   The more beautiful we make the world the more terrible it will be if that beauty is destroyed.  Another aspect of the medical analogy is that the more a doctor extends peoples lives the more people who live with the aches and pains of old age.  This raises the question of whether everything we do is futile.  Does everything we do ultimately lead to as many problems as it does good?  Since we can't do a good deed if there isn't a need or pain to alleviate does that mean the Universe will always create those needs and that pain so that good can exist.  If that were true there would be no reason to try and do good.  The inventors of the atom bomb invented it in order to save lives and stop World War II and stop Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.  Iran is close to mass producing nuclear weapons.  The technology they developed in order to do good may result in the mass murder of millions.  That may be because it is impossible to make the world a better place.  I certainly don't want to believe this but I don't have an answer for these questions.

    An unexpected place I encountered philosophical statements about the duality of the Universe was a teen movie called "A Walk to Remember". The girl is a believing Christian who asks a boy why he doesn't believe in God. He says "There's too much bad in the world" and she says "Without suffering, there'd be no compassion".  He then says "Tell that to the ones who suffer." Does the fact that without suffering there'd be no compassion mean we should have faith in God?  To me all it means is that for there to be the beautiful things in life like compassion there have to be the ugly things in life like suffering.  It means that if I were to believe in God I'd have to believe in the Devil.  In fact most if not all religions that believe in God do believe in the devil.

    There are many who argue that criminal behavior is a result of a criminal's environment.  This implies that if we make the world a better place, people will be less likely to make evil choices.  If that were true the potential for evil could be considered to be reduced.  We all know that slums are breeding grounds for crime.  If we could improve the situation of the people in slums by paying more welfare it seems reasonable that they would be less likely to commit a crime.  There are many who argue that the contrary is true and the more money that is poured into welfare the more crime there is.  In the welfare world single mothers have babies from multiple men and collect welfare for each one without giving them a healthy home environment.  One of the highest predictors of criminal behavior is if a child was raised in a single household.  While these women have many children many of whom turn to crime other families who support them struggle even to support one child.  I met a couple in this situation.  The husband said how he saw welfare women on buses mistreating their children when he couldn't afford having a second child.

    Self feeding cycles to a better world have existed in the world but have never engulfed the entire world.  Just as vicious cycles toward evil don't last forever vicious cycles towards good don't seem to either.  Most of the evil empires of the past that were once strong and growing and increasing in strength eventually fell. 

   The duality of the Universe can be seen in the consequences of our actions.  When we develop a cure for a disease an antibiotic resistance bacteria arises that resists our cure.  We give out more charity and welfare and corruption increases that funnels the welfare for corrupt purposes.  America's scientists developed nuclear weapons to stop Nazi Germany and Japan and they did stop war with Japan as well deterred conflict between superpowers for a long time, but now nuclear weapons are proliferating and threaten to lead to terrible catastrophe. 

   Jules Verne wrote a science fiction story called the War of the Worlds in which aliens come to earth and start destroying everything and man can do nothing to stop them but they eventually are killed by bacteria.  Jules Verne realized that there is a positive side to bacteria.  In reality it may be that a new form of bacteria or virus saves the earth from Man and his nuclear weapons.

   It seems that any technological advance that mankind makes can be used for good or evil and so has a dual nature.  One example of that is the internet. The internet is fascinating because the large number of computers that interact over the internet are in many ways like communicating human beings in society.  The viruses that exist on the web are in  many ways similar to the viruses that attack living things.  The internet has made it easy to find and purchase things we want.  It has also made it easier for criminals to steal our credit card numbers. Shimon Peres, former prime minister of Israel believed that the internet would allow communication to break down walls of hate and bring peace and love to everyone.  It may be that to some extent it has but it has also become a method of spreading hate propaganda as well as a method of communication for terrorist organizations. 

   Internet chat rooms and dating services make it easier to meet people and many marriages have resulted from online dating services.  On the other hand it also has been a factor in breaking up marriages.  Marriages have broken up because of affairs that started via the internet.  One outrageous example I read of this was when a man bought his wife a computer and she used it to flirt with men online, met someone online with it and left him.  I've also read about relationships that have been destroyed became the man downloaded pornography on the internet instead of spending time being affectionate to his wife.  The internet that helps singles find each other also helps sexual predators lure prey.  In one particularly horrible example a Palestinian Muslim women lured an Israeli boy to his death by pretending she was in love with him.

   Ultrasonography is an ultrasound-based diagnostic medical imaging technique is one of the most widely used diagnostic tools in modern medicine. It is also used by many to determine if a fetus is male or female for the purpose of killing the fetus if it is female.  According to authors of the documentary "China's Stolen Children." as many as 40 million baby girls have been selectively aborted creating a gender gap that has left millions of men with little hope of finding wives.

   We all our doomed to die yet once we are gone our children live on and once they are gone their children live on.  Although living things die life has lasted billions of years.  It may be that life is not immortal and that some day we will annihilate all life on this planet with nuclear weapons.  It may be that there is no other life in the rest of the universe or even if there is, it may be that all life is doomed eventually to self destruct.  If life arose once from the inanimate world, it can arise again.  It may be that after life self destructs it will be reborn anew and the cycle will repeat.

    It would be ironic if life is doomed to self destruct.  Life is designed to survive.  Those species best adapted to their environment are selected for.  The problem is that one way species survive is by destroying the competition or devouring other life and in that may lie the cause of the future destruction of life.  It may be the very thing that helps species survive is what kills them in the end.

    The majority of us want to live but there sometimes comes a time in old age when people want to die.  At that point it the more ethical choice may not be to try and keep them alive.  As we get older our aches and pains grow and at some point life isn't worth all that pain.  I had a grandfather who loved life but after his wife passed away and his medical problems got worse he looked forward to dying.

Relativity and Duality

    The duality of things may be partly a result of the requirement of existence that things be relative.  Something can only be big relative to something else, something can only move relative to something else.  A mountain is only a mountain if it is higher than something else.  A good deed is only a good deed if we have the choice not to do it and could have chosen an evil path instead.

Duality of Morality

     Is a gun bad?  There are many who argue for gun control who believe it is.  Is violence always bad.  The pacifists believe that is the case..  Yet if we take the philosophical stance that everything has an equal potential for good and bad then we can argue that sometimes guns are good and sometimes violence is good.

Issue Those Who Argue that It's Bad Argument That It's Bad Argument That It's Good Those Who Argue That It's Good
Guns Coalition To Stop Gun Violence. Gun's kill people.  If there were less guns less people would be killed by criminals or madmen.

 

It's not guns that kill people, people kill people.  Gun's protect people against criminals.  Guns protect people's freedom.  If you outlaw guns only outlaws will have guns.

------------------------Articles Making Related Arguments

Lets Make America A Sad Free Zone by Ann Coulter

 

American Rifle Association
Violence Quakers

Buddhists

Violence hurts and kills people and so is bad Violence sometimes is necessary to stop bad people from killing good people  
Torture   No one should be made to suffer. Torture might extract information that might save many people  

 

The argument that these things are always good or always bad leads to immoral behavior in my opinion.  The most moral policies depend on the most accurate view of the truth.  If you don't defend yourself because you have pacifist beliefs you are being immoral.  If you oppose keeping guns away from the criminally insane you are immoral as well.

 

Should We Stop Trying?:

   If there will always be the potential for evil no matter what we do why make the effort to make things better?  I think the keyword here is potential.  It may be that by doing good we increase the potential harm that evil can do, but clearly it is ridiculous to refrain from making something beautiful because it may be destroyed some day.   Just because an antibiotic resistant organism will arise that can resist the antibiotics that we invent doesn't mean we shouldn't invent it.  It does do good before it becomes ineffective.

    It is discouraging to think that there will always be evil because duality is a prerequisite for existence.  Yet we can look at the positive side of duality as well.  The mountain that arises out of the valley gives us the opportunity to conquer the mountain.  Whatever weaknesses we have and challenges we face are an opportunity to overcome them.

    Everything that appears negative makes possible a positive opposite.  Our character is all the stronger for whatever weakness or vulnerabilities we have to overcome.

Duality in Physics:

     There is a wave particle duality in which light part of the time behaves as if it is a particle and part of the time behaves as if it is a wave.   An article in the San Francisco Chronicle (10/4/04) discussed the duality of matter and antimatter:

In a sense, matter and antimatter are the yin and yang of reality: Every type of subatomic particle has its antimatter counterpart. But when matter and antimatter collide, they annihilate each other in an immense burst of energy.

     The duality partner of the electron is the positron, the duality partner of the proton is the anti-proton.

Washington State physicist Kelvin Lynn,  is enthusiastic about antimatter because he believes it could propel futuristic space rockets.

"I think," he said, "we need to get off this planet, because I'm afraid we're going to destroy it."

Ironically the dual uses of antimatter as rocket fuel and as a weapon may make it the weapon that destroys the earth as well as propels people into space so that they survive to fight another day.

Duality and Existence:

    There is a recurring theme in my previous discussion and that is that for things to exist there often needs to be the possibility for their opposite to have the potential of existing.    Lets consider the possibility that it is true in the case of nothingness.  Is it true that for nothing to exist something has to exist as well?  What is nothing?  How big is nothing?   How long does nothing exist?  If space was made of nothing how big is space, infinitely big?  What is distance if there is nothing?  These questions make it clear that it's very hard to understand what nothing is.  Space is probably not nothing.  According to the theory of relativity gravity is the curvature of spacetime.  How can space curve if it is nothing?  An object with a given velocity travels from one position to another in a given time through space.  Something is different between those two positions in space.  That something can't be nothing. 

    According to quantum theory tiny particle-anti-particle pairs pop out of a vacumn, travel for short distances and then disappear again on tiny time scales.  Nothingness can become something apparently and the something it becomes has a dual nature.   Maybe there is a duality and equilibrium between nothingness and somethingness.  Maybe nothingness can't exist without the existence of somethingness.

 

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