The other day I pointed to a Dave Pollard post in which he argued with himself, eerily echoing an argument I find myself having with, uh, myself, frequently. Commenters immediately seemed to select the “right” side of the argument and condemn the other. They saw an either/or and picked a winner — which was not at all my reaction.

When I find myself caught in a loop like the one Dave describes, with two sets of positions or perspectives that both seem valid — but incompatible — my impulse is to try for some sort of synthesis, some sort of third position that can accommodate both.

I was contemplating how to write a coherent follow-up post on the matter when Dave beat me to it, describing exactly my sentiments at, as is his wont, great length. Ironically, he himself explains why I reacted so viscerally against another post of his in which he said we ought to aim to do one thing well. I don’t like doing any one thing. I like having my fingers in lots of pots, finding patterns and resolving disparities.

Where I might differ with Dave is that, just as I don’t think doing one thing well is What People Should Do, I don’t think synthesizing (thinking holistically, however you want to put it) is either. More than anything, it’s just a temperament. I’ve got it. Some other people prefer to dive deeply into specialization. It takes all types, etc. etc.

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(Why yes, since you ask, this post does have something to do with environmentalism! For lots of the issues facing the green movement — take the old environment vs. economy chestnut — some sort of compelling synthesis is the way to go. We now return you to to less abstract matters.)

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