• Jeanette Prather

And/Both vs. Either/Or

Two seemingly opposite concepts is the conundrum of and/both vs. either/or. Either/or is a logical fallacy within argument and critical thinking when it pertains to multiple potential outcomes as it eludes to only one possible outcome derived from two different sources.

Certainly a situation may call for an either/or decision-making rationale, but most probably fall under the and/both category. And/both, on the other hand, opens up multiple potential solutions to a dilemma when presented with options. It maintains more of a gray-scale approach to decisions over its very linear, black-and-white counterpart, the either/or.

Ideally, the and/both framework would be the only with which humans operate, opening up a plethora of consequences over the either/or, two-dimensional viewpoint. Nowadays, however, the call to keep an and/both state of mind is certainly upon us as we move from the 2020 portal.

Non-linear thinking in an era that depends on cyclical approaches harvesting the creative thread in people is now upon us. It is no longer black or white, man or woman, love or hate, but rather a sliding scale that moves between the two extremes. A pendulum of Dao, if you will.

These two extremes, according to dao, should not lead life in human endeavor, rather act as two polar end-points for the pendulum to swing between, with a desired result being the pendulum resting in the center at peace. Straying too far to any one side creates an off-balance within the human spirit and psyche, causing a disturbance in existence and life itself. "Confucius (551–479 BCE) believed that he was restoring the dao of the ancient sage-kings," wrote Britannica.com. "Mencius (flourished 4th century BCE) was subsequently considered the orthodox interpreter of Confucius’s dao. The great 12th-century-CE thinker Zhu Xi believed that he was resurrecting daotong, the transmission of the Confucian Way, which he claimed had been lost in the previous few centuries. Likewise, the tradition that subsequently became known as Daoism (daojia) traced itself back to thinkers such as Laozi (assumed, if he existed, to have been a contemporary of Confucius) and the 4th-century-BCE sage Zhuang Zhou, or Zhuangzi ('Master Zhuang'). Those thinkers and their disciples promoted the Cosmic Dao, which they claimed was a greater guide to life and good government than any human teaching."


The either/or philosophy in regards to Kierkegaard's work, for example, presents two parallel viewpoints from the human experience. The aesthetic and the ethical stance on life is explored and contrasted, illustrating two opposing ways to live, but that's not the way that we ACTUALLY live.

Clearly, the human experience has evolved since 1843 and the era of the either/or mantra, but the conundrum remains: Open up to an and/both perspective, or cling to the either/or mindset?

Welcome to 2021!

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