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  1. Senior Member
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    Dualism, Duality, Dichotomy, Polarity

    What's the difference between these words? Are they linguistically

    1. First let me say what I understand:
    Duality: Coming as a pair - possible a mirror-pair.
    Dualism: Having two appearances.
    Dichotomy: Division into two parts.
    Polarity: Two tendencies that oppose each other
    It seems difficult to try finding a "generic" meaning/usage beyond numerous technical usages of these terms.

    2. OED and Wikipedia gives some of the more technical definitions which are even more confusing:

    1. The condition or state of being dual or consisting of two parts;
    twofold division; duality.
    - Gram. The fact of expressing two in number.
    - A theory or system of thought which recognizes two independent
    principles. spec.
    - Philos. The doctrine that mind and matter exist as distinct entities;
    opposed to idealism and materialism.
    - The doctrine that there are two independent principles, one good and
    the other evil.

    - The condition or fact of being dual, or consisting of two parts,
    natures, etc.; twofold condition.

    1. Division of a whole into two parts.
    a. spec. in Logic, etc.: Division of a class or genus into two lower
    mutually exclusive classes or genera; binary classification.
    b. gen. Division into two. Something divided into two or resulting from
    such a division; something paradoxical or ambivalent.

    Duality is part of human and computer language. What would you for example call infinitive vs. gerund or simple tense vs continuous? Do you call it duality, dichotomy or polarity?
    Last edited by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim; 19-Jul-2007 at 09:50.

  2. Editor,
    English Teacher
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    Re: Dualism, Duality, Dichotomy, Polarity

    Simple and progressive slide among those definitions; they're slippery things.

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