Monash University

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The Power of paradox: holisitc foundations for impossible communications

posted on 2017-01-16, 23:16 authored by Locker, Markus
The study The Power of Paradox avers that truths claims are necessarily singular. For that reason, the conversation of truths cannot take place unmediated. Truths are not communicable, yet seek to be communicated. What all truth claims have in common is sets of truths that cannot be fully explained within their system of origin. These are paradoxes— truths standing on the head. Paradoxes point to an original unity behind all opposing truths. It is suggested that the conversation of truths—as intended in the dialogue between religions, and science and faith—must take recourse to paradox. In communicating paradoxes, otherwise incommunicable truth claims can communicate. The route to paradox is systems epistemology and imagination. A systems view of reality offers complementary viewpoints that, taken together, surpass insights provided by conventional observation. A systems perspective creates a holistic image of reality that is grounded in paradoxes. The capacity to represent this paradoxical image is found in the imagination. The productive imagination conceives of subliminal forms of paradoxical representations. As models of paradoxes, these images perform a transcendental analysis that communicates their paradoxical nature. The language for the communication of paradoxes is the language of poetization, found in the structures of humour and art. Imagination and imaginative language embody and communicate paradoxes. The embodiment of paradoxes creates an environment in which truths are not oppressive, but allow for form of life sustained by the paradoxical qualities of freedom, peace and happiness. Paradoxical truths speak in metaphors. The communication of these metaphors and their structure establishes the communication of opposing truths. Science and religion share in the God-metaphor whose communicative extension guarantees the ongoing dialogue between these disciplines. Religions that feature paradoxical structures share in a theology of humour—the folly of faith is their common subject. Realizing the power of paradox for uniting opposing truths through conversation and dialogue offers new possibilities for the successful communication of academic disciplines, cultures, societies and religions. This however necessitates that new ways of imagination and creativity for successfully coping with paradoxes have to be introduced to well-established forms of knowing. Admitting to opposing truths does not limit human knowing but, on the contrary, allows for a life rooted in a multiplicity of truths. These truths do not compromise the truth we necessarily believe in, but ground our lives in the unity of truths.


Principal supervisor

Peter Murphy

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Department, School or Centre

School of English, Communications and Performance Studies


Doctor of Philosophy

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Faculty of Arts

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