ANTITHESIS, SYNTHESIS, PARADOX - THE VALUE OF ARGUMENT
OCTOBER 3rd 2009
Many have maintained, with G.K.Chesterton, that by seeking the heart of
paradox, we can find a higher truth. In the same way, the polarisation
of opinion in the modern world as conflicts reach critical levels may,
contrary to what many suppose, lead to agreement. To get there, we may
have to listen carefully to those we disagree with, accept the
experience that engenders their opinion, and find a reality in which
apparently irreconcilable facts can all be true because the nature of
the underlying reality surpasses the supposed one.
Take for example the arguments for and against 'organic' agriculture on
the one hand and the intensive, controlled appliance of modern science
and economy of scale to maximise output of produce on the other. There
is disagreement on the facts, on the interpretation of the facts, and
on the result of any future outcome even if the aforementioned were to
be agreed on.
Another good example would be orthodox and alternative medicine, such
Religions are in a category apart, in that they are based squarely on
tradition. Their claim to validity is based on the historic survival of
the culture that has adopted them. Science can change the interpetation
of its peer-reviewed experimental results whenever observation so
Prizes awarded today included:
Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson for
showing that cows with names give more milk than unnamed cows.
Modern Science tells us that is
ridiculous, but I am sure you will have guessed that cows who have been
given names are in the charge of those whose animal husbandry is
superior in most or every respect to others. The cows give more
milk bcause the farmers give them and their environment more attention.
An enquiry amongst the farmers in question would reveal that they would
agree. Giving cows names is an indication they know them and recognise
them and would detect any change in their demeanour. The animals also
respond to personal attention and possibly to their names. Such care
would be reflected in all aspects of management and the cumulative
result would be seen in the milk yield as well as general physical and
mental health of the animals.
In the Steiner method of agriculture, blind statistical analysis of the
grapes from Steiner Method vineyards and of the wine made from them
shows a consistent superiorty of the method in achieving results.
Steiner's methods include the abandonment of intensive methods and
chemical fertilisers, see http://www.biodynamics.com/biodynamics.html.
It also uses the phases of the moon as a guide to the timing of certain
operations, as do many other traditional agricultural practioners.
Scientists say: Why should the moon make a blind bit of difference? It
could, probably not for the reasons those who follow its phases think,
but because it provides a regulatory timetable which controls the
activity of agricultural workers better than the strictest gang-master.
While I am not insisting that the time-table thereby enforced could not
synchronize with a minute reflected radiant or gravitational lunar
influence on the surrounding nature, it is more likely the effect of imposing a timetable that is followed
religiously is likely to lead to optimum management, preventing over-interference on the one
hand and neglect on the other by humans tending to the plants.
The same applies to those who 'talk' to plants. While I am not at this
point eliminating the possibility of plants to respond to human
presence and sonic vibrations at vocal frequencies, the fact is you
can't talk to a plant without looking at it. That means you will notice
of it is too dry, too wet, or subject to attack. That may be better
than a regime of watering that may be too much, or too little.
In a recent programme on BBC Radio 4 "The
Great Mineral Heist" the point was well made
that the low level of
mineral and vitamin nutrition in much produce that results from
intensive farming is due to the disproportionate and rapid growth of
the carbohydrate and protein structure of the plant as a whole. It is
weight and appearance are, unfortunately, what decides the value of
crops, land, methods and
supermarket sales, to the real detriment of human health and wealth,
quite apart from the taste of the food in question. If modern intensive
methods were used properly, not to achieve maximum yield by every means
incuding the speed of growth and the size of fruit or seed, and if the
choice of strain was made for taste and mineral content, organic would
have no advantage. Grapes produced by the Steiner Method will thus be
superior because of what is abandoned in the way of conventional
fertilisers, and by the choice of land for its poverty, as much as what
is provided by the subtler introduction of yeasts and compost matured
The paradoxical conclusions drawn on alternative medicine have led, as
the moment of crisis in medical costs and as success and failure in our
national health beset society at the same time - a paradox itself of
incredible proportions - to a better understanding of the placebo
effect. I have covered elsewhere on this site some years ago the reason
why homeopathic treatment may be successful in humans and animals even
if the effect is linked to placebo/attention/diagnostic factors and the
avoidance of equally useless or even harmful orthodox medical treatment
rather than any chemical effect of homeopathic treatment. That
is not to rule out the latter, as the phenomenon of resonance in the
subatomic structure of space-time is way beyond the competence of most
scientists to even pass an opinion (not that this stops them).
I intend in due course as time passes to continue in this file with the
resolution of some more profound paradoxes that apply to what we call
science and the contradictions that arise when taking science,
politics, economics and traditional morality and religion to extremes.
It is only by
exploring what appear to be insoluble paradoxes that we can change our
minds. When we have changed our minds, changing our opinions will no
longer be a necessity.