One, Many

The unity associated with logical coherence and the flexibility and richness associated with the right measure of pluralism both seem to be worthy goals. As usual, we aim for a kind of structural mean, or the best of both worlds.

The two are not fundamentally opposed. Something like unity of apperception involves no suppression of appropriate distinctions. Similarly, the pluralism we want involves no suppression of practically achievable stability or coherence. So in principle, reconciliation ought to be possible.

They even ought to be combinable like product and sum types in type theory, which are like structures nested inside an n-ary logical AND or OR operation. A single consistent view is representable as a product type. Pluralism at a given logical level of interest is representable as a sum type.

Following Plato’s metaphor in the Phaedrus, we want to cut at the joints, as it were — to recognize unity where there should be unity, and difference where there should be difference. Of course, those “joints” are not just simply given to us; we have to find them.