The meaning of polarities

 If you read the list on the right, you can see that there a lot of polarities in the universe. With polarities I mean things that are each other’s opposites but connected together. You can place these polarities on a line from the one side to the other. Between both sides, there must be a neutral point where you cross the border from the one to the other side. Secondly, it should also mean that if you go towards one side, you should get away from the other side. For example, if you become more good (better), you become less bad. If you get more positive, you get less negative, and so on.

Positive Negative
Black White
Dark Light
Good Bad
Life Death
True False
Up Down
Left Right
In Out
Start Stop
Beginning End
On Off
Love Hatred
Pro Anti
Open Closed
High Low
Hard Soft
Forward Backward
Divergent Convergent
North South
West East
Ying Yang
Hot Cold

The end of polarities
You could argue that at the end of the polarities, there are the absolutes. When you would reach this state, you could be in states like ultimate positive, completely black, or 100% percent good. This would also imply that at that state, you reach the absence of the other absolute, there will be no negativity, no white, or the absolute absence of bad. However, one could also argue that these states are no absolutes, but infinite. Is there an absolute goodness? Isn’t that an infinite state you could never really reach? You will need to comply with all the thoughts of all the living things in the universe, and maybe even the non-living things to do something ultimately good. For other polarities this becomes also a difficult “end” to achieve, where would “completely up” be or something that is ultimately cold? Scientists believe there is no place in the universe which is absolutely cold (0 Kelvin). I believe that the existence of one side of the polarity directly implies the existence of the other side; one couldn’t exist without the other.

One thing I noticed when working on polarities is relativity. For all the polarities like “West/East, up/down, hot/cold” the neutral point defines whether something is at one of these sides. So relative to your position something is up or down, hot or cold, good or bad, or high or low. At these polarities, the system to which you are referring to, is the neutral point which establishes both the sides of the polarity. You could refer to a system in space (making West/East, up/down, left/right), in time (past/future, start/stop, divergent/convergent), and to the state in relation to its environment, both physical (hot/cold, hard/soft, +/-), and mental (true/false, positive/negative, good/bad, pro/anti). The weird thing is that it seems that a polarity can only exist from a relative (neutral) point. A direction can only emerge if there are two sides.

Polarities are an outcome of variables
While writing this, I figured the meaning of polarities. It seemed a bit unsatisfying but I found that polarities are just a phenomenon within a certain variable. Take the variable “Mass” for example, mass ranges from 0 to infinity and has no polar opposite (like anti-mass) From a certain amount of mass, the polarities heavy/light emerge. The system has his own reference frame, a (relative) neutral position, and from that point it “perceives” the world around him and its polarities. For the variable “temperature”, the polarities “hot/cold” emerge, and for height (the y-axis), up and down emerge. Polarities are then formed from the state the certain system takes within that variable. A person can (a system) can compare itself on a variable (weight, size, position) to different systems, and from that point, the polarities emerge. The weird thing is that the place that a system takes, does not change the perception of the polarities. A system can take any place on the variable and experience a polarity. A system can be of 200 or -200 degrees and still feel things which are hotter and colder. Polarities are thus independent of the state of the system. Here comes the argument of relativity again, polarities are relative to the state of the system itself.

A shift both ways
The other interesting thing about polarities is, that when a system shifts its place, towards cold for example, it immediately gets less warm. When a system goes more West, it immediately goes less East. Because we just found out that the polarities are on the same variable, this might be no surprise but there is more related to this. When a thing, let’s say a person, shifts from temperature and gets colder, this means that the environment directly gets warmer, in a closed system. The heat that person releases to its environment, will be replaced with cold that this person enters. This is also how climates are regulated, the high and low pressures cause the winds to transfer the heat and cold temperature waves across our planet. Another example would be with getting up and down, if you walk up a mountain, there should always be something getting down, which is usually the air that replaces itself downwards. When you would take place on an enormous scale, and you would eat something that is also on the scale, the total mass on the scale wouldn’t change, although you become heavier. I’m not sure what this would mean for mental polarities (like pro/anti and good/bad) but it’s an interesting thought experiment.

The absolute variables
Usually, when someone talks about some variable like temperature, weight, or direction, a certain position is taken. We almost never talk about temperature without comparing it to something else.  We always insinuate something when we start to talk about variables like temperature, weight, or distance. When we start to do this, the polarities are automatically introduced through the relationship with the environment, space, or time. But without doing that, these variables are just absolute.

A framework
To summarize this article I put together a framework in which polarities arise. It seems a very, very, simple framework but that’s also what I like about it. For the same reasons I’m not sure about the practical use for this framework, but I think it a good summary for this article.

  1. There is an object
  2. This object relates itself through a variable to something in its environment, in space, or in time
  3. Through the comparison of an objects with another object on this variable, polarities emerge which define the relation between both objects
  4. The comparison from the primary object to the secondary object is opposite from the secondary to the primary object

I think it is interesting that absolute variables often quickly become relative making polarities emerge. This means that most of the things we are doing are in terms of relative values. We compare ourselves with things that are close to us, and near our system. Like you wouldn’t compare your weight with the weight of a boat. But if you do, you might feel quite light.

Anyway, although polarities seem very simple if you approach them as they are, it interesting to think about how much we use them in life and how little we think about them. Maybe they all seem very natural for us to understand. Either way, I thought it was quite a good exercise to think about them consciously.

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