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Ambiguity

Ambiguity

According to Aristotle, the substitution of opposite qualities hosted by a substance during a transformation has a discontinuous character. His logic seems to imply a step-by-step flow of time and rules out the intervention of a critical situation where opposite qualities can smoothly cooperate and compete together in the same substance. This schematizes evolution as a quasi-static change of objects rather than a continuous course of events.

Aristotle's conception is reflected in the rigid aesthetic canons of the art of antiquity. For instance, in Myron's Discobolus (The discus thrower), fifth century B.C.E., Museo nazionale, Rome, time seems to be frozen in the act of launching the discus. Furthermore, throughout two millennia, the tertium non datur has influenced Mediterranean culture.

It is only during the twentieth century that, thanks to an attentive evaluation of the nature of time and the adoption of a probabilistic approach to the evolution of natural systems, ambiguity, meaning the coexistence or confluence of two or more incompatible aspects in the same reality, has acquired a non-negative connotation in the Western world.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Ambiguity - Ambiguity to Anticolonialism in Middle East - Ottoman Empire And The Mandate SystemAmbiguity - Ambiguity, Probability, Uncertainty, And The Arrow Of Time, The Dynamics Of Ambiguity, Ambiguity As A Permanent Cultural Value