98% Middle

There’s a number of common misconception about many systems of polar opposites.

The most prominent of these is to conceive of all pairs of opposites as purely binary, a philosophical hangover dating back at least as far as Aristotle, and still absurdly prevalent in our culture today – see any discussion of US politics, for example. In our heads, we know it’s not really that way. We think of night and day as opposites, but most of us are aware that there are periods of twilight at the transition between them. But in our hearts, there’s something satisfying about the simplicity of Us and Them – satisfying, but ultimately inaccurate , reductive and destructive.

Another, less well recognized one, is the idea that the middle ground of any argument consists only of the precise middle. It works in mathematics to think this way, but real life is somewhat messier. In fact, the best example of it I can think of comes from that messiest of all parts of real life: human sexuality.

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