A brilliant name for the monument


What could be more inclusive than to rename the monument The Monument of the Ancestors? This is not my original idea, but I consider it brilliant and I wish to support it.

In his latest book, This Idea is Brilliant, John Brockman collects from a stunning array of scientists and thinkers, the concepts they value most in their various disciplines: scientific humility; the anthropocene; exponential growth; synaptic transfer; information pathology; and so on.

The philosopher Melanie Swan chooses “Included Middle” as her favourite concept, and she explains more or less as follows: In classical logic, a proposition is either true or its negation is true; there is either A or not-A. The law of Excluded Middle. The field of quantum mechanics, however, has revealed a more complex world. We know now that there are circumstances where both states could be true – another state of reality, if you like, containing both A and not-A, thus a third possible situation. This idea “overcomes dualism and opens a frame that is complex and multidimensional.”

The Included Middle – the notion that two contesting positions can exist side by side in a complex new reality – is a robust and promising model for addressing any situation.

Could the Included Middle provide a conceptual model for social analysis and nation building in South Africa? In a complex society, might it be possible to be both peacefully and robustly united and divided at the same time? A monument to “The Ancestors” might be the symbol of such a complex state of unity in diversity. We all honour them all, while we also each honour our own. And to extend the model just a little further: it is possible, in the complex state that is the human condition, to both honour and chastise one’s ancestors, all at the same time.

Lynette Paterson

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