Binary reasoning limits our knowledge for it oversimplifies the subject being studied. Computers operate in binary mode, that is they only can understand a 1 or a 0, and this fact is what makes artificial intelligence so hard to achieve. The fact that humans can work outside of simple duality is what distinguishes us from other animals and machines. Certain issues cannot be studied on their integrity unless they are looked upon without using the two-valued logic system.
Two examples would be: whether light is a particle or a wave and whether Adolph Hitler was a Fanatic or an Opportunist. These two examples illustrate a problem of reason as a way to acquire knowledge in the fields of a natural and a human science. Physicists have studied light for centuries and they have always been mystified in deciphering whether it is a particle or a wave. The ancient world believed light was an extremely light and small particle that moved at incredible speeds.
More recently, physicists have conducted experiments that proved that light has wave-like properties. In the early 19th century, Thomas Young, a British scientist, conducted a famous experiment in which he proved that light would interfere and diffract. A broad discussion about the nature of light emerged in the scientific world. The theories that light reflected of a surface just like a ball would, was revised because the explanation that it was a reflecting wave was a more convincing one.
The fact that light would bend with a large amount of gravity cannot be revoked and this attributed light a certain amount of mass. Since waves are not supposed to have a mass, in the same way that particles are not supposed to diffract, reflect, and refract. The contemporary scientists are intended to abide in the wave-particle theory which combines all the facts of light and place it in a category that does not follow the duality reasoning behind the wave or particle division.
Some historians often oversimplify their analysis of historical figures, by stating that they fall under a type of people because of their personality. Alan Bullock does not belong to that group of scientists, which makes him stand out for his originality. Instead of thinking that Hitler was either a fanatic or an opportunist, he is able to view the dictator as both. Furthermore he is able to identify moments in history when Hitler shifted slightly his position. Bullock uses the two concepts as a spectrum and places the despot in a specific point in the spectrum for every instant in history.
By doing this Bullock is able to have a better understanding of Hitlers personality than other historians who take a standpoint using binary reasoning and try to prove that Hitler was either an evil person or a great politician. These two examples show that binary reasoning can be viewed as a problem of knowledge, for it limits the understanding and classification of people, events or concepts. By widening our field of view one may lead to a better understanding of what is being studied. If everything would fit into two options our world would be far simpler than what it is.
Every question would be answered by one of the opposing concepts such as good or bad, black or white, subjective or objective. There is an irony in this writing for it is supporting one of two opposing views, even though the content of the argument is against a separation of views. To justify this it is needed to clarify that binary reasoning is not a completely failure, for it works to explain simpler issues, but there are other cases, like the two examples explored, in which this method of thinking does not yield a full understanding of the problem.