Study of Threes Phenomena
Persistent Dichotomies

(The Study of Threes)

The title of this page comes from an excellent outline of Lecture material provided by Dr. Street:


I chanced upon the forth-coming list as I was rummaging about the internet in search of "two-patterned" examples featured as dualities or dichotomies to be used as part of a discussion on one of the pages for the Novum Organum Threesiarum preface page A section. And even though I am familiar with many of those selectively listed, it has been more years than I can remember when I last took a psychology course. Humorously, it was during an age when Freud was still in diapers (though he had a beard even then). Yet I don't in any particular way remember being introduced to the idea concerning the persistence of dichotomies. In retrospect, a profile of dichotomous thinking does in fact persist as highlighted by Dr. Street. Each of us uses our own variations of a dichotomous perspective from time to time.

Stated as such, it is necessary to point out the need for a distinction with respect to dichotomies (or if you prefer, dualities). The realization which should more rightly be proffered is that there is a Persistence of Dichotomization. At least in some respects, and obviously used quite often when philosophically discussing aspects of psychology. While some may want to argue that such a persistence in thinking is due to the actual presence of dichotomies (such as two eyes, two ears, etc...), it should be noted that an alternative array of dichotomies (or dualities) does not typically accompany nor become accumulated in a similar manner as does a listing of various trichotomies.

Let me now present the list of dichotomies exhibited on Dr. Street's page which will be followed by additional examples compiled by other "dual-focused" individualized perspectives:

Here is a short excerpt viewing dichotomies in the context of a psychological system which are part of a larger course in Theoretical Backgrounds in Psychology

With regard to the problem of what is ideally entailed by a psychological system, Marx and Cronan-Hillix dealt with Robert Watson's "prescriptions" and with a study by Coan who had psychological theories assessed on a number of bipolar dimensions. In an attempt to make up for the lack of a psychological paradigm, Watson (1967, p. 436; 1971, p. 315; Fuchs & Kawash, 1974) isolated eighteen themes or prescriptions:

  1. conscious mentalism - unconscious mentalism
  2. contentual objectivism - contentual subjectivism
  3. determinsim - indeterminism
  4. empiricism - rationalism
  5. structuralism - functionalism
  6. inductivism - deductivism
  7. mechanism - vitalism
  8. methodological objectivism - methodological subjectivism
  9. molecularism - molarism
  10. dualism - monism
  11. naturalism - supernaturalism
  12. nomothetics - idographicism
  13. perferalism - centralism
  14. utilitarianism - purism
  15. quantitativism - qualitativism
  16. rationalism - irrationalism
  17. staticism developmentalism
  18. staticism - dynamicism

(prescriptions 5, 10, 14 have been quoted in reverse order.)

The list is a little unsystematic, it will be note. Contentual, methodological, and philosophical prescriptions have been state in no apparent order, and some seem to overlap. Moreover, concepts such as rationalism and staticism are used in more than one sense while the meaning of the first prescription in particular leave the present author in the dark.

In coan's study (1968, 1973), six bipolar factors were found in a factor-analysis of 34 variables. The list is conveniently short compared to Watson's but its general similarity with the prescription is easily grasped:

  1. subjectivistic - objectivistic
  2. holistic - elementaristic
  3. person - transpersonal
  4. qualitative - quantitative
  5. dynamic - static
  6. endogenist - exogenist

Recently, the same number of dimensions was found by Kimble (1984). In an attempt to describe "psychology's two cultures", (cf. Schopman, 1989, Stagner, 1988) Kimple came up with the following list:

  1. scientific - human values
  2. determinism - indeterminism
  3. objectivism - intuitionism
  4. laboratory - field
  5. nomothetic - idiographic laws
  6. elementism - holism

Annals of Theoretical Psychology 9(Edited by Hans V. Rappard, Pieter J. Van Strien, Leendert P. Mos and William J. Baker)

Parallel ways of knowing
(J. E. Bogen)

Left Hemisphere Right Hemisphere
Intellect Intuition
Convergent Divergent
Digital Analogic
Secondary Primary
Abstract Concrete
Directed Free
Propositional Imaginative
Analytic Relational
Lineal Non-lineal
Rational Intuitive
Sequential Multiple
Analytic Holistic
Objective Subjective
Successive Simultaneous

The Duality of Yin & Yang
(I Ching)

Yin Yang
Feminine Masculine
Negative Positive
Moon Sun
Darkness Light
Yielding Aggressive
Left side Right side
Warm Cold
Autumn Spring
Winter Summer
Unconscious Conscious
Right brain Left brain
Emotion Reason

Left and Right Hemisphere Brain Attributes page 1

While the last two lists were focused on an itemization of brain hemisphere attribute differences, and Dr. Street's list was not, all three of them have the underlying intention of pointing out patterns-of-two as a fundamental thinking formula. And it should be noted that the lists were not generated because the examples were taken out of some otherwise perceived context as a juxtaposed dominating contrariety, since they were actually used in an attempt to diagram a distinction within the context of thinking. It might well be presumed that the authors genuinely thought they were providing an insight into some dominant fundamental pattern. Yet, the lists do not likewise generate the distinction concerning the recurrence of Singularities and Pluralities, with the dominant plurality appearing to be Triplicities.

The lists also do not themselves venture into an attempt to provide the supposition of pristine influence other than to align differences with different brain structures, though Dr. Street's list does not make any such suggestion one way or another. As such, it is rather curious that while the two brain hemispheres can be used to suggest a role in the development of dichotomous ideas, the idea of a triune brain as outlined by Paul D. MacLean has not received an equal weight of organizational influence on three-patterned ideas.

It should also be noted that when one looks closely at Brain Hemisphere attributes, a distinction can be made with respect to Left Hemisphere attributes being organized with a "three" pattern and Right Hemisphere attributes being organized with a "two" pattern:

Attributes of the brain hemispheres show a distinctive (but somewhat overlapping) partitioning along a 1-patterned, 2-patterned, 3-patterned formula, with the earlier brain structures exhibiting a smaller numerically identifiable value, just as we find in the development of Primordial Germ Layers to the extent that we humans, as a complex organism, grow from 3 Germ Layers, and less complex organisms grow from fewer than 3 layers. Hence the idea that we grow physiologically along a 1- 2- 3 maturational development sequence.

Left and Right brain hemisphere attributes

***Note: Much of the brain illustration shown above was adapted from page 106 of Dean Falk's book entitled "Brain Dance," 1992.

Left Hemisphere
(Predominantly 3-patterned)


Major Premise
Minor Premise

Time Sequencing:
Seconds ~ Minutes ~ Hours
Past ~ Present ~ Future
Day ~ Week ~ Month


Right Body Side:
Tri-cuspid heart valve
Three-lobed lung
Right Hemisphere
(Predominantly 2-patterned)

Macro versus Micro
Whole versus Part
Inner versus Outer

Major Scale vs Minor Scale
Loud versus Soft (Quiet)
Consonance vs Dissonance

Visuospatial: (Art)
Background vs Foreground
Light vs Dark (Contrasts)
1 Dimension vs 2 Dimensions

Pain versus Pleasure
Positive vs Negative
Love versus Hate

Left Body Side:
Bi-cuspid heart valve
Two-lobed lung
Human Heart

The correlations of two and three being made on this page are not typical considerations. However, I did come across a single reference concerning the tricuspid valve:

--- Why does the right side of the heart have a TRICUSPID valve? ---
Human Lungs

In recognizing that the left lung is smaller than the right lung (which provides room for the heart), let us conjecture that this is due to some past earlier developmental sequence just as we find the 1-layer, 2-layer, 3-layer sequential development of the 3 primordial germ layers (Ectoderm - Mesoderm - Endoderm) in primitive -to- more complex organisms. Hence, difference in size (dimorphism) as well as a two/ or three prominence may provide another link towards understanding developmental processes. Does this mean that the recurring smallness of the female to the male in many species indicates that females came before the male in terms of species-specific evolutionary development during particular environmental circumstances? If so, will there be an increased development towards a 3 to 1 "fusion" ratio?

(Predominantly 1-Patterned)

(Self)-Preservation~ (Self)-Procreation~ (Self)-Preeminence

Some additional two-patterned references found in music:
  • Tension and Release
  • Staccato and Legato
  • Slow and Fast
  • Ascending and Descending

Psychology Research page 3

I remember growing up in a neighborhood with someone whose father used to recite various dichotomies such as negative and positive, light and dark, Yin and Yang, etc. While he was a very likable man, whose friendship is missed; I recall seeing various patterns-of-three and would on occasion point them out to him. He nonetheless persisted in voicing the perspective for the persistence of patterns-of-two. It was not until years later that I reconciled the two contrasts into a perspective which combined the two perspectives into an overall three-patterned idea:

We are environmentally influenced to be genetically predisposed, to conceptualize many of our ideas, perform many of our activities, and grow physiologically along a singular, dual, plural maturational development sequence, with "three" appearing to be the most predominant plurality...

And one of the Pluralities is a 3- to -1 ratio: Three to One ratios page A

While I could go on to recite more examples of threes, the intent of this page is to point out that the presumed "Persistent Dichotomies" can be placed into a larger context with related patterns which are quantifiable.

While searching for material related to pg.33c of the Devils Advocate series, I came across another excellent source for dichotomies:

List of Dualities in Human Nature and the Physical and Conceptual Universe: Posted by Thomas DeMichele on June 9, 2016

  • Binary – On and Off: Binary computing is either 1 or 0. Either on or off. All code can be reduced to binary. In quantum computing, things can be on and off (in a state of superposition) until they need to be either on or off.
  • Something and Nothing: In the universe as we currently understand it, there is true empty space (a theoretical vacuum, or nothing) and then there is everything else that is not empty space (something).
  • Singularity and Abstraction: An idea or object is either a singularity (like the start of the big bang) or an abstraction (like everything that comes after the big bang). In Taoism, the singularity is “the Tao” while everything arising from this is an abstraction. In a more everyday example, beauty creates ugliness, both being abstractions of physical aesthetics.
  • Truth and Un-Truth: Truth exists independent of our ability to prove it, everything is either true or not true. Epistemology is the study of “what we can know and how we can know it”.
  • Fact and Myth: A fact is, in the strictest sense, something that is undoubtedly true, a myth is something that is commonly believed to be true, but is not truth.
  • Knowledge and Belief: Knowledge is something objective we know with certainty, belief is something subjective we know with certainty.
  • Known-Truth and Lies: Known-Truth as an amalgam of knowledge and truth, is a statement that is necessarily the case (or believed to be the case with all justification and reason employed). Lies are statements that are known not to be the case but are spoken despite their known falsity.
  • Fact and Opinion: Opinion is our impression of something, our beliefs based on our impressions, a fact is a statement based on empirical evidence, reason, and logic.
  • Lies and BS: Lies are statements known not to be the case and spoken regardless. BS is rhetoric with the sole purpose of influence and thus can be the truth, lies, or half-truths.
  • The Four Forces – Unified Field Theory and Gravitational Force (Energy and Gravity): The four forces might be considered a quadrality on one level. However, since we have a unified electroweak theory which combines electromagnetism, strong force, and weak force at the start of the big bang, we can call this a duality. We have an electromagnetic weak and strong force and a gravitational force. So energy and gravity are the duality.
  • Fermions and Bosons: Fermions (like quarks and electrons) are particles that make up matter, Bosons (like photons and gluons) are “the force carrier” particles that are responsible for the interactions between fermions. See the standard model.
  • Electro-Magnetism: The four forces are important, but the most interesting and tangible is electromagnetism; this is a combination of electricity and magnetism. Both electricity and magnetism have the duality of attraction and repulsion.
  • Strong Force and Weak Force: Strong force glues atomic particles together; weak force causes radioactive decay to unglue the composite particles.
  • Attraction and Repulsion: Be it magnets or “birds of a feather” or “opposites”, things attract and repel based on their properties. In an electron, for example, attraction and repulsion is governed by charge (spin). See the Pauli exclusion principle for instances where the forks of quantum particles can and can’t cross.
  • Mass and Energy: We can describe the measurable properties of any physical system as mass or energy. These properties can be conserved as each other, but not converted. See Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence.
  • Negative and Positive: In mathematics we have negative and positive integers, if we add another axis to a 2 point chart we can add multiple iterations of this.
  • Determinism and Non-Determinism: Determinism describes something that is not random, indeterministic means truly random. This can refer to computing devices or even free-will.
  • Chaos and Order: Chaos describes something without a deterministic pattern, order describes an ordered set with some level of determinism.
  • Fractal and Whole: We can have something that is in-between a whole (like a fractal or fraction) or something that is itself whole like a whole number.
  • Rough and Smooth: In geometry, something can be a simple smooth shape or a rough complex shape.
  • Malleable and Un-Malleable: A substance or concept can be rigid or plastic. Bendable or unbendable, breakable or unbreakable, changeable or not. See neuroplasticity.
  • Finite and Infinite: Things can be finite or infinite, sometimes things are infinite but are bound by limits.
  • Mind and Body: Mind refers to the mind, emotion, and spirituality; body refers to the physical world and the energy that powers it. A metaphor for this is the classical elements for energy and willpower (fire), physical body and sensation (earth), intellect and reason (air), and emotion and spirit (water). See the classical elements.
  • Collectivism and Individualism: Collectivism favors the collective and collective rights, and individualism supports individuals and individual rights. See collectivism vs. individualism.
  • Idealism and Realism: Realism accepts things as they are; idealism focuses on a perception of perfection in seeing things as they should be. See idealism vs. realism, and Aristotle Vs. Plato (Hume’s Fork and left-right, and conservative vs. liberal all relate to this concept, as do collectivism and individualism).
  • The Left and Right: Whether we are talking about the political left and right, left brain and right brain, or any other left, right analogy we are speaking metaphorically about the range of concepts which perhaps can be summed up by a number of paradigms including liberty vs. authority, social equality vs. social hierarchy, and empathy-sensation vs. logic-reason.
  • Liberal and Conservative: Speaking of politics, the basic duality in political ideology is liberal and conservative. Liberal means (very roughly) progress and individual liberty at the expense of order; Conservative means order and tradition at the expense of individual liberty. This duality arises from the weakening of the church and strengthening of knowledge in the 1600’s (see the Age of Enlightenment and Birth of Liberalism). See the invention of the printing press and liberal vs. conservative.
  • Progressive and Conservative: Conservative means several things. In this instance progressive means “wanting to move forward” (in any direction); conservative means “wanting things to stay the way they are, or wanting to go back to the way things were.” A progressive social conservative may long for a past day that was less inclusive, but this radical conservatism is only progressive in the loosest of senses. Typically progressive means “left” and conservative means “right” when not used in specific context. See conservative, moderate, liberal, progressive.
  • Tangible and Intangible: Tangible things are things we can know for sure and experience directly; intangible things like ideas are things we can’t.
  • Subjective and Objective: Subjective describes ideas based one emotion, tastes, or opinions; objective describes ideas based on quantifiable facts.
  • Rationalism and Empiricism: We can know things in our head “knowledge of non-worldly ideas” or we can know things from sensing the world around us “knowledge of worldly facts.” Some say that only those things which we can sense are valid; some think we can use “pure reason.” It is accepted both should be used to find deeper truths. See Kant and Hume’s Fork.
  • Reason and Empathy (Sense and Sensibility): We can approach the world and ideas using reason and logic, or we can use our empathy.
  • Essentialism and Existentialism: Essentialism is the idea that everything has an essence; Existentialism is the idea that it doesn’t. See Essentialism vs. Existentialism.
  • In-group and Out-group: We can consider those in our circle such as our family, friends, race, religion, or whatever and whichever sphere we extend to those we relate to as our in-group. Those outside our circle or those who we don’t directly relate to are our out-group.
  • Analysis and Synthesis: Analysis is the process of deduction in which complex concepts are reduced into smaller chunks. Synthesis is a process of induction during which truth is gleaned by looking closely at concepts and putting together ideas. When we apply this to philosophy, we can consider analytic propositions as statements that are true by virtue of their meaning, and synthetic propositions as statements that are true by their relation to the world. This concept devised by Kant in his critique of Hume. Hume comes up a lot since his philosophy is based largely on dualities.[3]
  • Deduction and Induction: Deductive reasoning is the analytical process of taking a complex concept or system and reducing it to smaller parts for study (top down). Inductive reasoning is the opposite, starting with the simple and working back up to the complex (bottom up).[4]
  • Pleasure and Pain: Pleasure is seeking out those things that relieve pain and make us happy; pain is the physical or emotional sensation of nagging discomfort.
  • Good and Evil: Good and evil are complex concepts, but generally, good heals and helps and evil hurts and destroys. Typically good seeks pleasure for others (not selfish) and evil seeks pleasure for the self (selfish). See the duality of good and evil.
  • Good and Bad: Good is something that has ethical, and moral intentions, and ideally consequences; bad is that which doesn’t meet these criteria. Bad is different from evil, as evil denotes a pure malicious intent while bad can just be a symptom of amorality or mistake.
  • Excess and Deficiency: Excess is having more of something than is needed; deficiency is having less than is needed.
  • Wealth and Poverty: Wealth is having an excess of capital and resources; poverty is not having enough.
  • Liberty and Authority: Liberty is the freedom to do what one wills; authority is the social contract (entered into willingly or not) that governs the behavior of people and groups.
  • Anarchy and Authority: Anarchy is a society without order; authority denotes rule-sets that in the best light protect those who enter into a social contract and consent to be governed. See our left-right compass.
  • Virtue and Vice: Vice is a deficiency or excess of an important quality, virtue is a balance of that quality in its highest form. See Aristotle’s virtue.
  • Moral and Immoral: Moral is an action that causes happiness and is virtuous, immoral is that which is not, amoral is a disregard for morality.
  • Just and Unjust: Justice is doing on to others what a moral person would have done onto them, injustice is a lack of reward matching feat or crime matching punishment.
  • Ethical and Unethical: Ethics are rulesets one adheres to that they would consider just, moral, and fair; unethical is not following these rulesets.
  • Ethics and Aesthetics: We can use our lower animal instincts and seek power, money, and sensual pleasure (Aesthetics). Or, we can use a more altruistic moral compass to guide us through life. We are naturally torn between these desires, and only through experience can we gain the intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual wisdom we need to temper them, employ our willpower, and avoid potential pitfalls.
  • Happiness and Unhappiness: Happiness is a positive emotional state, unhappiness is a negative emotional state. See the meaning of life is happiness (according to many philosophers).
  • Higher Order and Lower Order: Higher order refers to actions and ideas that are moral, justice, virtuous, and enlightened, Lower order refers to actions and ideas that are amoral, unjust, non-virtuous, and unenlightened. This concept is analogous to comparing our basic survival instincts and desires to our most ethical and spiritual higher selves.
  • War and Peace: War is a state of conflict; peace is a state of non-conflict.
  • Male and Female: The basic duality in living organisms with a reproductive organism, often used as a basic analogy for left and right.
  • Living and Dead: Living is something that has sentience, an ability to be self-aware, or consumes energy; dead is something that doesn’t have these properties.
  • Organic and In-Organic: Organic things are made from naturally occurring elements; inorganic are things made from synthetic or non-living compounds.
  • Animate and Inanimate: Animate objects are living; and inanimate objects aren’t.
  • Communist and Capitalist Economic Systems: Capitalism is a system of commerce based on free-trade; Communism is a system of commerce based on the distribution of goods and services. See America is a capitalist country.
  • Pretentious and Humble: Humility is doing things with grace, acting like a stranger in a strange land when dealing with others; pretentious is believing yourself above others.
  • Relief and Tension: Tension is a state of physical or emotional anticipation, relief is a lack of tension.
  • Honorable and Dishonorable: That which is honorable is that which is respected (ideally something that would be timeless respected, but also includes things that are respected in a specific place in space and time), typically meaning upholding and adhering to a given code of ethics. Dishonorable is not adhering to the code. This rule is broken when what is moral and ethical goes against the code, in this case going against the grain is the honorable thing. So we can say, “following the highest order code of ethics which one can perceive regardless of public opinion.”
  • Enlightened and Unenlightened: Enlightenment refers to the wisdom of the mind, body, soul, family, and community. This intelligence and wisdom is in every aspect of ourselves, in our ability to shape the world around us, and in our ability to interact with and influence others. Many would consider the path of enlightenment as the ultimate point of life. It is a broad category the encapsulates most, if not all, the positive concepts above and leads to our happiness and the happiness of others.

Initial Posting date: May, 22, 2014
Updated posting: Friday, October 25th, 2019... 9:16 AM

Your Questions, Comments or Additional Information are welcomed:
Herb O. Buckland