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What is Paradoxical Thinking?

Isa Bella

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Our “Western" logic emerges from the works of Aristotle, who basically said: “It is impossible for the same thing at the same time to belong and not to belong to the sam thing and in the same respect; and whatever other distinctions we might add to meet dialectical objections, let them be added. This, then, is the most certain of all principles. . . "

This axiom of Aristotelian logic seems so self-evident to us that we don't even question it. The statement that X is A, and not A at the same time seems totally nonsensical to us. But there is a different kind of logic, called “paradoxical" logic, which assumes that A and non-A do not exclude each other as predicates of X. This kind of thinking can be found in Eastern philosophies. Lao-tse said: “Words that are strictly true seem to be paradoxical. " And Chuang-tzu: “That which is one is one. That which is not-one, is also one".

So it is, and it is not, and it is neither this, nor that. This is the essence of Taoism: “My words are very easy to know, and very easy to practise. But there is no one in the world who is able to know and able to practise them. " In Taoist thinking, the highest step to which thought can lead is to know that we do not know. “To know and yet think we do not know is the highest attainment; not to know and yet think we do know is a disease. " We need to look at things from different angles, from a different perspective.

We need to be able to put ourselves in other peoples’ shoes. We need to consider events in a different light. We don't know what is right and what is wrong. “Learn to yield and be soft if you want to survive. Learn to bow and you will stand in your full height. To bend like a read in the wind - that is the real strength" If you're too rigid, you'll break. But if you're flexible, you'll bend and maintain your dignity in any situation. Just to be able to accept someone else's opinion, without trying to convince them of ours, is a great step forward. Instead of being defensive, you could say something like, “You've got a point there", “That's an interesting thought", “I've never looked at it this way", “Thank you for sharing your ideas on this subject with me. " Paradoxical thinking enables us to be compromising.

We become willing to make concessions, to yield to the influence of others. We're not invincibly rigid or obstinate. We become adaptable people, able to adjust readily to different conditions, while maintaining our sense of identity. In a good relationship, there are more yesses than nos. A good relationship with anyone always accentuates the positive, and paradoxical thinking helps us achieve this level of tolerance and understanding.

by Isa Bella

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