A Thought Experiment for Our Divided Times

The South African-born comedian Trevor Noah asserts that America has a serious problem hitting it hard right now. “Nuance means you can’t just take a stand and fight the other person. Nuance means we have to talk [think] a little bit more.” Without further discussion of such nuance, “. . . you are going to create this false impression that there is This or That.” (Dallas Moring News, 9-10-20).

This session will attempt to overcome such exclusive binary thinking that is causing so much conflict in our public dialogue. While acknowledging the legitimacy of real binaries in life, the presentation will provide several suggestive systems of thought that potentially overcome false or artificial binary thinking. The very structure of language will be addressed and then we will involve Aristotle’s epistemological distinction between passive and active intellect. Maximus the Confessor’s Christological allegory of the building program by King Uzziah will be presented to portray as a poetic means of conceiving unity among disparate parts. The philosopher, G. W. F. Hegel’s speculative philosophy is next with his historical vision of movement by the Geist (Spirit or Mind). The apostle Paul’s depiction of the unity of the body among the various members (I Cor. 12) as well as John’s recording of Jesus pastoral prayer (John ch. 17) is included to provide a theological base. Then in conclusion, the musical form of counterpoint and harmony is described. All the material encourages envisioning possible ways of thinking through and beyond simple, initial binary thought.

Dr. Michael Young

Michael R. Young is a graduate of Abilene Christian University with a Bachelors, Masters, and Master of Divinity in Biblical Studies degrees. At the University of Dallas he attained a Masters and Ph.D. degrees in philosophy. He also earned a certification in Spiritual Direction from Spring Hill College. Dr. Young is a professor in Faulkner University’s doctoral program in the Humanities as well as a professor for the doctoral Leadership degree at the Center for Global Studies, Johnson University. He was the former director of Faulkner’s Institute of Faith and the Academy and founded the academic publication, the Journal of Faith and the Academy. He currently serves as a consultant to the Institute and is an Editorial Board Member for the Journal of Faith and the Academy as well as for the Stone-Campbell Journal. Dr. Young is married to Carla, an architect with the firm Goodwin, Mills and Cawood. They have four children and five grandchildren.