Tertium non datur

In a controversial discussion it can be helpful to remind all participants of two fundamentally different ways of saying “No”:

  • You refuse the position of the other side because you are against it. For example see the other camp as an enemy, perceive the solution they defend as a sin, …

  • You refuse that the question as such (this way of dividing reality into two dichotomies) is invalid or meaningless.

Definitions and thesis statements:

vicious circle

A situation where a learning process is stuck by a controversial battle.

Paulus trauma

A change of mind in a fundamental controversial question because you realize that your conviction needs an update.

tertium non datur

The law of excluded middle, which states that for every proposition, either this proposition or its negation is true.


A conviction

It is important that both sides are aware of this differentiation. A participant who fails to be aware of TS01 is perceived as a browler, squabbler, disturber or peace breaker.

The reconciling “third,” not logically foreseeable, is characteristic of a resolution in a conflict situation – Frith Luton in Tertium non datur – the ‘Third’ that reconciles Opposites <https://frithluton.com/articles/tertium-non-datur/>

Paul Watzlawick published work on this in [Watzlawick1980].