On the relevance and irrelevance of binary logic


Binary logic, formulated and inspired by Aristotle, says essentially that

If statement A is true, then the contrary statement B cannot be true, that everything has to be  either A or B, with no other possibility.

It is true that we cannot function normally in this world, let alone construct computers, without binary logic and the associated Boolean algebra.

However, is it important to be aware of the range and context where this is the case.

Many misunderstandings have arisen because of thinking ruled solely by binary logic in situations where it simply doesn’t and cannot work.

In such ordinary  matters as deciding whether a person is good or bad, whether the decision taken by a government is right or wrong, whether a person who committed a certain crime under certain circumstances should be declared guilty or not-guilty, whether a poem is great or trivial, etc. binary logic simply will not work.

Indeed, in many judgments relating to the human condition, and some questions regarding the unknown (why was the universe created?)  and perhaps unknowable  (what is our postmortem state?) there are no simple answers.

It would of course be rash to trivialize or give up logic and rational thinking because of this. It would be wise to recognize the power of binary logic, and unwise to regard it as the only correct and available tool in confronting all situations.

June 9, 2013

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About Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.
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