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THEE Dualities

Dualities are Ubiquitous

Dualities are an intrinsic feature of mental and social life. Sometimes hidden and sometimes overt, they lead to «dilemmas», «divisions», «dichotomies», «dialectics» and «paradoxes» .

Their effect is to generate perennial and deeply divisive personal, practical, social, political, philosophical and academic disputes. Duality-based conflict flows mainly from ignorance but also, and far too often, from wilful blindness, gamesmanship and deliberate obfuscation.

Duality is part of the human condition, and all taxonomic forms are affected by one or more dualities in their manifestation and operation.

Effectiveness in life depends on rapidly recognizing and handling the dualities relevant to action. Misuse of dualities is examined in the next Topic.

Types of THEE Duality

Balance in living, relating and working requires that we understand how the evident opposition in dualities may be resolved, handled, or sensibly tolerated. The concern here is to categorize the taxonomic dualities with examples, and identify the differing principles for resolution in practice. Satellites provide numerous examples (click to go direct).

■ Oscillating Dualities (oD)

… are present in all forms of 7-level hierarchy.

Tree showing Centres and Channels for managing an organization of any size.

The odd-numbered Levels (L1, L3, L5, L7) have a quality that is opposite but complementary to the even-numbered Levels (L2, L4, L6).

The nature of this duality is not known. Attempts to avoid one of the poles are common, but these tend to produce a one-sided process or biased judgements.

In 2012, I discovered thatClosed the duality can be forced to reverse within Primary Hierarchies. An investigation within the Architecture Room has led to surprising results.

Resolution in holistic hierarchies:

Resolution in Principal Typologies could be handled by choosing two approaches, one from each pole. However, it is more usual for there to be a single preference and a willingness to apply other approaches if that seems more suitable.

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■ Unfolding Dualities (uD)

… are present in each Level (i.e. Type) of a Typology Hierarchy and in each Level (i.e. Grouping) of a Structural Hierarchy. This is a dialectic.

The duality is formed from poles, often perceived as «higher» and «lower». The lower pole is generally akin to a «sustaining core» or «ground state» of the Type/Grouping, while the antithetical but complementary upper pole is generally akin to a «developmental potential» or «force for growth».

So sustenance-development versus ground-force is the generic concept of the underlying dialectic that manifests differently at each Level. What is manifested or meant in any particular Framework needs to be discovered. Furthermore, while there is a general duality applicable to every Level, it cannot be and does not need to be resolved in practice (even if philosophers are concerned). Each Level manifests that general duality in a distinct and significant fashion, and here resolution is a practical issue.

Resolution occurs as each sustaining core (thesis) at a Level in the hierarchy activates a development potential (antithesis) in the same Level, which leads to a synthesis at the next higher Level. The synthesis is a new higher thesis (ground state), which in turn evokes a new complementary antithesis (development potential), and so on.

The result is an unfolding of the Types or Groupings. The system is cyclical because synthesis at the 7th Level generates the sustaining core (ground state) of the duality at the 1st Level.

Remember:Closed We are concerned with practical resolutions, not theoretical possibilities or philosophical abstractions.

ClosedExample 1 the Unfolding duality from Politics
(see a detailed explanation of the unfolding potentials of political life.)

ClosedExample 2

Unfolding duality from the Principal Typology of ways to develop personal identity.

Consider the typology of approaches to personal identity development-PH’4 as shown on the left in the diagram at right.

We can start in the middle with a state that is familiar to all:

L'3 is labelled emotional being, and here the core for personal stability is body states (activated by emotions) while the growth-promoting potential is to be found in mental states (meaning given to feelings and interpersonal situations).

Synthesizing mind and body generates a new core at L'4 called the self (all selves have both bodies and minds) for which direct opposition and growth comes from the other. L'4 is labelled individual being. Synthesis of the L'4 duality poles results in the next higher Type (L'5-relational being) whose core is called the group (all our groups combine ourselves and others) which is challenged by individuality, and so on.

In this example you can see how the THEE structure locates that hardy philosophical and biological perennial the mind-body problem, and then explains how it can be resolved in practice.

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Dynamic Dualities (kD)

… are dualities that seem to be invariably associated with holistic hierarchies and are required to generate a Tree Framework. The duality is applied to each Level in the hierarchy to create Centres of influence (i.e. sources of dynamism or power).

Blank generic Tree using M versus F as dynamic duality.

The intrinsic nature of the Level either allows one pole of this duality to dominate the other, or it requires a fusion of the two poles despite their apparent opposition. It is now known (by induction) that fusion or synthesis occurs at Levels 1, 2, 4, & 7.

Convention for Diagrams: In Levels 3, 5 & 6, where the two poles exists as distinctive Centres in psychosocial reality, the dominant Centre is placed on the right.

Naming: Using natural language has been difficult because the duality manifests somewhat differently at each Level, and may alter according to the actual context. 

Basis: Having identified many of these dualities, an underlying rationale is emerging. The Tree represents a person/individual/self attempting to act autonomously and immediately running into constraints within the environment/situation/social group/organization. That is the dilemma that is posed one way or another at each Level of the hierarchy.


The Table lists a range of related dualities. To ease exposition, one of the possible pairs is typically chosen to refer to them all—as shown at the top of the Table in bold.

Managing   Knowing
Individual v Organizational   Singular v Universal
Professional v Institutional   Personal v Impersonal
Personal v Impersonal   Unique v General
Motivated v Authorized   Circumstantial v Pre-determined
Preference v Duty   Emergent v Pre-defined
Creative v Directed   Idiographic v Nomothetic
Emergent v Pre-specified   Unrepeatable v Unchanging
Spontaneous v Bureaucratic   Pragmatic v Scientific
Intuitional v Structural   Idiosyncratic v Normal
Contributed v Required   Created v Discovered

Resolution is provided in various ways:

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Internal Dualities (iD)

… are a context-content form, which can be found in any Tree (or its 7-level hierarchy) by dividing it into an upper 3 Levels of context and a lower 4 Levels of content. So these poles are formed by differentiation.

This is easily noticed and self-evidently significant in regard to Q-hierarchies that are generated by Principal Typologies. In a Q-hierarchy, each of the 4 Styles/Levels in one Type is the content pole and the 3 lower Styles/Levels of the next higher Type form the context pole. (This is one of the ways to overcome the incompatibility and irreconcilability of Principal Types.)

The Q-system is cyclic: all 4 Levels of Type #1 are the content where Type #2 is the context, and the lower 3 Levels of Type #1 are the context where Type #7 provides the content.

Resolution is provided by the Channels which link the higher set of Centres in the Tree to the lower set of Centres


In this Q-hierarchy Tree of Cooperation, derived from the Framework for Interacting for Benefit, the Internal duality is L'5-Communalist Choice (context) and L’4-Individualist Choice (content). The Modal Hierarchy is evident in the R-hand column of the diagram—use zoom to view. The Channels linking from the higher set to the lower set are evident.

Check these two posted examples from Politics. The Internal duality of the Tree mapping determinants of political choice is The People v The Powerful, while the Internal duality of the Tree dealing with handling political tensions via political participation is: Sources of Power in Society v The People.

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■ Executing Dualities (eD)

Typology Essences Tables (TETs) are created and understood by determining and formulating two dualities:

Executing duality
Approach duality (see below).

Allocation of attention in quadrants of a 2x2 Typology Essences Table.

The 7 Types in a Typology Hierarchy can be plotted on two orthogonal axes that represent a dilemma about where attention should be directed within psychosocial reality when you are fully and personally committed.

Types are methods that can be applied to a psychosocial field. For Principal Typologies, the relevant field is now thought to be specified by the Primary Structural Hierarchy. The two Axes are the critical contextual factors determining functioning within the Field.

By convention:

The X-axis specifies the -social part or pole of the psycho-social context. This is relates to the desired output of any approach (Type). So the dimension is broadly a phenomenon that appears to be external, environmental, situational, communal or social.

The Y-axis specifies the psycho- part or pole of the psycho-social context. This is the personal means for producing the output. So the dimension is broadly a phenomenon that appears to be psychological, mental, internal, individual or subjective.

These two axes form a duality because they reflect opposite poles in a person’s direction of attention in using their preferred approach within the field. While there is no conflict for that person, there may well be conflict with others who prefer a different balance of attention.

Plotting the Types:

Centrifugal tendencies within quadrants of a 2x2 blank-generic Typology Essences Table.

Types can be compared and plotted through assessing whether they are high, moderate, low or very low on each axis in turn. When Types are assessed like this and plotted, each falls into a particular quadrant either in a more extreme (i.e. peripheral) position, or in a less extreme (i.e. central) position.

See diagram at right. Numbers refer to the Levels/Types in the Principal Typology Hierarchy. (Numbers for the Root Typology or Subsidiary Typology are different.) The arrows in the diagram indicateClosed that the more extreme Type tends to be viewed as a more sophisticated or more effective version of the more central Type.

Types within a quadrant have a natural affinity (and so can give a name to the quadrant), while Types in opposite quadrants naturally display antagonism. Affinity and antagonism is evident in people who embody the various Types, sometimes unknown to themselves.

Resolution: Each person discovers a mentality-type that feels personally preferable. That preference can be expressed in terms of comfort/discomfort or as a carefully argued rationale for assigning attention.

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■ Approach Dualities (aD)

Diagonal and concentric circle patterns in a THEE 2x2 Typology Essences Table.

Typology Essences Tables (TETs) are created and understood by determining and formulating two dualities:

Executing duality (see above)
Approach duality

The approach duality is identified by diagonals drawn on the plot of the Typology Essences Table, and divides the 7 Types into 4 of one and 3 of the other. This division reveals:

The lower-L upper-R diagonal specifies demanding approaches to issues. Each Type typically seeks some form of inner control over outer complexity.

Pairings of Types in a blank-generic 2x2 Typology Essences Table.

The lower-R upper-L diagonal specifies simpler experiential approaches to issues. Each Type typically seeks prompt and sensitive handling.

Resolution: Because your primarily-preferred Type, as determined using the executing duality, lies on one diagonal, there is a danger of imbalance or lack of coverage of potential situations. It is therefore desirable, and sometimes essential, for you to develop comfort and competence in a Type on the other diagonal.

Often the second complementary Type is chosen for similar input requirements (on the Y-axis) and has a significantly different output focus (on the X-axis). That combination forms a horizontal line in the TET.  Alternatively: the second Type is chosen for a similar output focus (on the X-Axis) but allows a significantly different input requirement (on the Y-axis). This combination forms a vertical line in the TET.

So there are 8 common pairs, as shown with green lines in the diagram.

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Originally posted: August 2009; Last updated 2-Feb-2014.

All posted material is part of a scientific project and should be regarded as provisional. Visitors are encouraged to think through the topics and propositions for themselves. Copyright © Warren Kinston 2009-2016.
All Rights Reserved.

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