ANTITHESIS [an-TITH-uh-sis]: the direct opposite

To begin with, a thesis is an idea or concept which is promoted as being the outcome of research.   To have a thesis about something means that you have come to a conclusion which you believe to be a fact.   In today’s world, for instance, the concept that global warming is occuring primarily because of the human creation of gasses which are filling the atmosphere and affecting the way in which temperature is experienced on Earth is a thesis.

An antithesis, therefore, is an anti-thesis.  It is the direct opposite of the thesis which is being promoted.  If someone says that eating carrots improves one’s eyesight, the antithesis is that carrots have no effect upon one’s vision.

The word antithesis is easy to follow to its origin, coming from  Latin and Greek: a setting against, from anti  + tithenai  to place.

In today’s political debates about federal governance, there is a good lesson to be learned about antithesis.   For the most part, Republican thinking holds that government is best when it is small, inexpensive and more subtle than decisive.   For instance, government-supported regulation of industry is not a good idea.  It stifles industry and prevents it from being successful.

Democratic thinking, however, holds an antithetical view point.  It sees government regulation as being necessary in order to protect the consumer (not the producer) from fraud, safety violations, and methods of employment or production which are harmful to the employees, the consumers, and the public in general.

A good example might be in the arena of the Keystone Pipeline.     Republicans (again for the most part) tend to support the construction and employment of the pipeline which will transport crude, mud-like oil from  Canada across the mid-section of the United States to refineries and distributors in the Gulf Region of  the country.  It is a boon to industry (both in Canada and the US) and may help lead to our independence from imported oil and oil products, particularly from countries that are not friendly to the USA.

Democrats (again for the most part)* are opposed to the pipeline and rely upon studies that cite this particular form of petroleum as the most pollutive, both in production, and…should there be a rupture of the pipeline…to the atmosphere of the USA.   They are concerned that a spill from the pipeline (almost a certainty based upon previous history of pipelines) could pollute the aquafer (water) which lies beneath the earth in the midwest, where water is already a scarcity.   They are insistent upon greater protection from pollution, and have forced the pipeline (if it is to be built) to avoid particularly vulnerable portions of the midwest.

It is easy to see that the Republican/Democratic viewpoints are at an antithetical position, clashing with each other in a way which puts the debate about the pipeline at a standstill.   Some form of concession will need to be reached before it will be approved or rejected.


Illustration Credit:

*In the illustration I have used for today’s blog posting it might seem that one’s reliance on emotion is the antithesis of the use of one’s logic.  In fact, it is something which is true much of the time.    But in reality, one’s emotions can sometimes adjoin one’s logic and improve it.  The sign is meant to say to people not to rely exclusively upon one’s emotions or logic in trying to get to the truth of a matter.  Be open to both, but recognize that one (logic) may be of greater value in most cases.  Emotion can distort the truth.  It may be more colorful and even more enjoyable, but it may be flawed.

**It is comical to see that if the pipeline goes through your state and could, potentially add great income and employment, it might be a little less objectionable.

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