Paul V Cornell du Houx
Democracy — nature’s river of asymmetry
The unicycle provides a singular image of balance and impending peril, lifted by whimsy for the weighty subject of this book. All the evidence of experimental science confirms that nature is asymmetric. No pure symmetry has ever been found. What does it mean to live in an asymmetric environment?
Unicycle introduces the logic of asymmetric change to interpret the evidence, while showing how our symmetry-based math has failed to grasp a vital ethical connection between humanity and the environment.
The observation that nature is asymmetric confirms reasoning that is as organized as the current foundational symmetries of math by using symmetry as a foil in a proof by contradiction. One result is the discovery that nature, the universe, has a non-random sense of direction with vital ethical consequences, as matter and conscious behavior combine.
Humans are drawn repetitively, even addictively, to pure symmetry in the simplicity of absolutes, like moths to the flame, gamblers to roulette, or — clowns to the unicycle. The more extreme the instability, the greater the need for balance. There is a Tao-like polarity — but one where absolute poles of chaos and order cannot exist. Where physical and social pressures cannot go, they must turn away, in the absence of absolutes, not into relativism, but into the natural, open-ended polarity of the River of Asymmetry. Self-defeating actions attract asymmetric counter-pressures. A self-centered monoculture needs to reach out for balance and learn to navigate the currents.
A key finding is that symmetry and asymmetry are mutually exclusive. In the absence of absolutes, nature’s asymmetry opens a creative continuum of opportunity that cannot be stopped with absolute finality. That which connects us is more profound than the differences that divide us. Nature’s asymmetry is multifarious and fundamentally inclusive. This provides the ethical basis for a democratic society and a fresh understanding of economics and natural law.
Economic value is nature-based and environmental. Markets depend on agreement, with or without competition. In the asymmetric economy, we are worth more than money. Business cycles can be rebalanced with cultural change.
The reasoning is elucidated with an interdisciplinary narrative fiction, including mythological tales. The stories gain a realism of their own through the deductions. Nature comes to life, along with the characters, as they work on the book by a river in Maine — discovering Mother Nature’s moral compass.
“Very scrupulously set out. It is extremely well written and beautifully literate.”— Dr. Diané Collinson, author of Plain English, Fifty Major Philosophers, Fifty Eastern Thinkers, coauthor of the Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Philosophers
“A provocative book by a serious thinker, well worth the reader’s time.”— William A. Haviland, PhD, professor emeritus and founder of the Department of Anthropology, University of Vermont, coauthor of bestselling textbooks, including Cultural Anthropology and Evolution and Prehistory
“This book contains some serious mathematics — smart, thought-provoking, and engrossing.”— William H. Barker, PhD, professor of mathematics, Bowdoin College, coauthor of the textbook Continuous Symmetry: From Euclid to Klein
“It’s an important book. I am very impressed. It covers a lot of territory, and it is very thoughtful and even charming. The math and logic are understandable to the interdisciplinary reader. I agreed with everything the book has to say.”— Esther Pasztory, PhD, professor emerita, Columbia University, author of groundbreaking books, including Thinking With Things, Aztec Art, Teotihuacan: An Experiment in Living, Exile Space: Encountering Ancient and Modern America in Memoir with Essay and Fiction
“Looks fascinating.”— Daniel C. Dennett, PhD, professor of philosophy, co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University, bestselling author of books including Darwin’s Dangerous Idea and From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds