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Why we need binarism to go beyond it

Authors
  • Ibsch, Elrud
Type
Published Article
Journal
Neohelicon
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Publication Date
Oct 13, 2010
Volume
37
Issue
2
Pages
463–468
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s11059-010-0067-4
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

In answer to the criticism of binary distinctions of the last decades, my theoretical argument in this paper is that on the cognitive level we are strongly in need of binarism. In my approach binarism is not identical with ontological dualism. It pertains to world orientation, because without the cognitive tools of differentiation life would be characterized by entropy. In order to define their place in the world individuals are in continuous search for identity and difference. A following step is to be vigilant from an ethical perspective not to grant a one-sided value to one of the binary concepts at the expense of the other. It is the concern of cultural stereotyping which has elicited the criticism of binary distinctions. However, ethical commitment cannot do without the tools of cognition. Coming to literature, I discuss the binary terms of (historical) fact and fiction. Analyzing Romain Gary’s La Danse de Gengis Cohn, a satirical Holocaust novel, I want to demonstrate that it is the tension between fact and fiction that allows for ambiguity and irony, intellectual strategies that go beyond binarism while accepting it as an indispensible cognitive tool.

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