Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Concord without Confusion

A notation supporting a rational basis for peace. The notation itself, based on Popper's three worlds, was introduced in an earlier post, Contrast without Confusion. I'm proposing that this notation could be used by rational people to understand each other, even in the face of conflicting beliefs.

The purpose of the notation is to write down things that are true, and can be accepted as true, by both parties. From there, from that basis of shared truth, a discussion could ensue peacefully and clearly.

By "truth" is meant here agreeing to use the correspondence theory of truth, leaving aside other possibilities such as the coherence, consensus, or pragmatic theories of truth.


An initial example simply acknowledges that there are at least two different worldviews in existence:

[1 [3humanism] [3christianity]]

First a note about the first and last line, that use bracketing to place an utterance in context — inside world one and the author's world two. This should, or could at least, go without saying. In other words, this conversation is happening in the real world, the only world that exists, the physical universe that pre-exists both the author and his audience. Furthermore, inside that world, the author is giving a glimpse of what is going on inside of his mental faculties. Indeed that is the only place from which the author can speak. For simplicity in what follows these two outer brackets will be left out, but of course they are there.

The notation above says, simply, that the author recognizes the existence, in the real world, of two systems of thought (worldviews in this case) that, the author claims, exist in the real world, and which he has named, respectively, "humanism" and "christianity".

Beliefs held in worldviews

The author might further make some claims about beliefs held in worldviews. For example, he might contrast their beliefs about the existence of God:

[1 [3humanism [1[3God]]]] but [1 [3christianity [1[2God]]]]

meaning that Humanists believe that there is an entity in world three commonly called "God" but Christians believe that there is a person (an entity in world two) whom they refer to as "God". In both world views there is no conflict about whether or not God exists. Humanists believe God exists as a concept, whereas Christians believe God exists as a person.

For an extended discussion based on the same subject, and using the notation, see an earlier post, Contrast without Contempt.


The process of concord without confusion would be to engage in peaceful discussion while using the notation to clarify exactly what is being claimed.

It begins by acknowledging that both parties are in the same physical real world. They eat, drink, sleep, are subject to the law of gravity, and so forth.

The next acknowledgement is that they may live in very different conditions. Indeed each has a separate perspective on the real world. Two people might agree on everything, yet standing side by side, might see a tree in the foreground as being either to the left of, or the right of, a mountain in the distance.

Discussion begins with a sharing of beliefs, in which the notation is helpful to clarify the nature of the existence of each thing believed to exist.

Agreement should be reached that emotional displays will be limited to surprise (that the other really holds a particular belief), avoiding contempt as much as possible.


The author has never attempted use of this notation (or any other method) in any actual peacekeeping activities. It is merely a theory that the notation and approach might be useful in such cases.


"the only place from which an author can speak" over simplifies. Of course an author can invent an imaginary world. In that case, we would see something like [1[2rowling [3HarryPotter story]]] in which a "story" is told that takes place in the Harry Potter universe, as told by the author (and inventor, in this case) of that world. A lesser known author can also tell a story from within that universe, as fan fiction, and the notation can capture this by naming said author as the world two entity involved in the storytelling, with everything else (except the story of course) staying the same.

"tree in the foreground" One person experiences the truth [2left [1tree] right of [1mountain]], while the other person believes [2right [1tree] left of [1mountain]] because of parallax. They can achieve concordance by exchanging positions, and directly experiencing the other person's point of view.

1 comment:

  1. I like the idea of limiting emotional displays to surprise over differing beliefs, and not allowing oneself to hold another in contempt because of differening beliefs.