The Price of Symbolism
Nothing seems to be defined without a dualism being formed.
Something is just as much defined, by what it is as what it
is not. The symbol and the object are often exchanged for
each other and that causes problems.
For instance, someone may claim that something is a "cup".
Artists love that, because they like to make things that
are almost but not quite a "cup" to the point where it
is impossible to be sure. Nature does the same thing with
say, the platypus, which is almost but not quite a mammal,
reptile, bird, marsupial; or quanta which are almost but
not quite particles.
As far as dualisms go, even the color "white" is really
"black", and "gray" as well, in terms of it's spectral response.
In this same sense, a white piece of paper is also a mirror.
Whether a dualism is seen as paradoxical depends on
perspectives and parametrizations, and on contrast and brightness.
The problems with dualisms is that people sometimes
shift the importance between symbol and object, and vice versa.
So, if you say the cup is more important than what you call
it, you can always be sure someone will understand and
believe that you have a cup if you hold it up and show it
to them. Unfortunately, this requires you to carry around
that particular cup with you, where-ever you go.
The other alternative is to create a symbol representing
the cup like the word "cup". Unfortunately, in order to
completely define that symbol, you have to also define
everything that isn't a cup which usually boils down to
going through the whole universe and pointing to one thing
at a time and saying: "This is not a 'cup'." You really
have to do this for each object in the rest of the universe
before the definition of the word "cup" is exactly representing
the specific object you are calling a cup.
If you want a more general definition of a cup that includes
"cup-like" things, then you really have to go through the
same process of pointing to the each object in the rest of
the universe and saying: "this is not 'cup-like'" in order
to have an exact definition of "cup-like". This is the
price must pay for using a symbols to refer to objects
in an exact sense.
Of course we don't do that. We are satisfied with a
"good enough" convergence of the symbols with objects
without going into infinite convergence so at some
point we say we understand what a cup is from sufficient
examples and shun further attempts at exactness.
Only when we try to be exact does the symbol-object
dualism rear its nasty head and we see this happen
on occasion in science and philosophy and in law etc.
One specific example is the iconography in computer
user interfaces; is the icon the "function it performs" ?
We may say no, the function is the "underlying code",
but if that code is only accessible via that icon,
in a sense the icon _is_ the function and any dissection
of the code is not the icon. The icon usually suggests
to us more than than just the underlying code by its
relationship to other icons. In a similar manner, specific
people mean more to us than just their physical function
A measurement is a definition, and both are intrinsically
dualisms between what was measured and what wasn't measured.
The "stability" of a definition is a good way to think of
words as dualisms: