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.

Initial Posting date: May, 22, 2014
Updated posting: Friday, May 31, 2019... 8:12 AM

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