Looking up, and down

Naval Ravikant, in an illuminating conversation with Shane Parrish, described the consequences of dual-thinking

“The more I’ve read, the more I’ve learned, the more I’ve experienced, because I verify this for myself, every positive thought essentially holds within it a negative thought. It is a contrast to something negative. The Tao Te Ching says this more articulately than I ever could, but it’s all duality and polarity. If I say I’m happy, that means that I was sad at some point. If I say he’s attractive, then that means that somebody else is unattractive.”

Intuitively, this makes sense. But it has some particularly insidious consequences. Consider the idea of virtue and vice. Courage and cowardice. Truth and its distortion. Honor and betrayal. The act of seeing—or attempting to see—virtue and vice manufactures a division: “X is virtuous, Y’s character is full of vice.” Such thinking compels us to categorise, to divide.

Alternatively, think about role models. The people we look up to, the people we admire. We all have them, right? But if we look up to some, it means we look down on others. By putting some on a pedestal we unwittingly put others down in the dirt.

An ugly observation, but a true one.