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Paralysis of Discourse

The human mind is like tuna salad: It needs to be mixed up every so often so that a brown crust does not form on the surface. And would you order a tuna-salad sandwich if you saw that the salad was encrusted with a brown, crunchy film?

(Well, I probably would.)

I have noticed a trend in public discourse that troubles me. We no longer engage in thoughtful dialogue. We have our opinions and beliefs (thesis), but we no longer contemplate the opposite of our ideas (antithesis). Thus, our thoughts never progress from the conflict between thesis and antithesis (using Hegel‘s dialectic) to the synthesis of a higher idea.

Rather, what suffices for discourse these days are hard-headed people with immobile ideas, agreeing to disagree (at best) or shouting each other into submission (at worst). Our discourse has gone from synthesis to paralysis. This observation inspired me to write an experimental essay titled “Traffic,” in which several characters discuss the meaning of the common good, while examining the crippling effect that the paralysis of discourse has on the evolution of human ideas. As William Blake stated more poetically, “Without contraries, there is no progression.”

Now, I am going to have a tuna-salad sandwich. I hope the tuna-salad is fresh!


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