HomeEnglish BlogA Paradox
An extract from the writings of Joseph van Keulen

A Paradox as an apparent contradiction invites us, to look and perceive from a different perspective so that the contradiction disappears. Then the situation becomes clear, understandable and it all starts to make (perfect) sense again. This usually means we need to take a different vantage point or view or appraise the issue from a higher systems perspective. Generally this means leaving the Either / Or reasoning (duality approach) and including a third dimension or perspective into every situation. It is via this third position that we better understand conflict and opposition and can start looking for solutions and ways forward. From the perspective of one of the parties in the opposition a lasting solution can never be seen.

An example: In order to have a conflict one has to have something in common. So the good news is that the conflict confirms the existence of a common connection and dimension. To understand that connection and dimension of the conflict we need to introduce a missing third element that provides us with the insight or overview what the fight, competition or controversy is all about. Let’s talk football (or Iraq for that matter). Say we see two teams battling with each other, then the perspective of one of the teams does not tell us much other than that there is a common interest with the other. If however we introduce the public on the stand or the football association as the third element then we suddenly get context and meaning. The question we seek to answer determines which third element is relevant at the time. Suppose that one of the parties in the conflict tries to impose its views (even when this party is by far the strongest) then we can be sure that no solution will be found. Especially in such situations only via the third element is it that a solution can be found. So in the football case we should go and talk to the Football Association or the public on the stand as the third party!

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