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.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

(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.)