Paul Cornell du Houx
Democracy — a force of nature
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 allows us to introduce reasoning that is as organized as the logic of symmetries currently in use, by using symmetry as a foil in a proof by contradiction. One result is the discovery that nature, the universe, does indeed have a non-random sense of direction with vital ethical consequences.
Humans are drawn addictively to pure symmetry in the form of absolutes, like moths to the flame, or in this case — like fools to the unicycle. The more extreme the instability, the greater the requirement for balance. There is a Tao-like polarity where neither pure chaos nor absolute order can exist. The more monocultural we become, the more we need to reach out for balance, as though we are bound for chaos. We must learn to navigate the River of Asymmetry.
A key finding is that symmetry and asymmetry are mutually exclusive. That nature’s asymmetry is a creative continuum that cannot be stopped with absolute finality. That what 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 natural law.
Economic value is nature-based — not confined to the prices of an easily distracted market. We are not to be valued by what we are paid. Business cycles can be balanced 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 Fifty Major Philosophers and Plain English
“A provocative book by a serious thinker, well worth the reader’s time.”
— William A. Haviland, PhD, Professor Emeritus, founder of the Department of Anthropology, University of Vermont, coauthor of textbooks including the bestselling Evolution and Prehistory: The Human Challenge
“This book contains some serious mathematics — smart, thought-provoking, and engrossing.”
— William H. Barker, PhD, Isaac Henry Wing Professor of Mathematics, Chair of the Mathematics Department, Bowdoin College, author of Continuous Symmetry: From Euclid to Kleintive by a river in Maine.
“An eloquent explanation, with spare logic and excellent argument. In my Critical Thinking class my students study the core ideals of the Enlightenment; this book’s world view gives me a position from which to triangulate between absolutism and relativism, and illuminates all three.”
—David S. Cook, author of Above the Gravel Bar: The Native Canoe Routes of Maine
“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, Lisa and Bernard Selz Professor in Pre-Columbian Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University, author of Thinking with Things