Over at the Sun Babelfish blog there’s an item on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Duck-Rabbit. This image is always generous in its usage and in this instance is allowed to mull creatively on the SSL and on Public Key Cryptography (PKI).
For Wittgenstein the ambiguity was its richness:
I am shewn a picture-rabbit and asked what it is; I say “It’s a
rabbit”. Not “Now it’s a rabbit”. I am reporting my perception. I am shewn the duck-rabbit and asked what it is; I may say “It’s a duck-rabbit”. But I may also react to the question quite differently.
The answer that it is a duck-rabbit is again the report of a perception; the answer “Now it’s a rabbit” is not. Had I replied “It’s a rabbit”, the ambiguity would have escaped me, and I should have been reporting my perception.
One thing I like about the Duck-Rabbit is that it shows how our perception is boolean – we can only see either animal at any one time and never both. But our understanding is dialectical and we can comprehend the duality of 2 opposites, a duck and a rabbit in the same place.
This points to a tension between the hard binary of logic and the fuzzyness of human understanding. Both of which are a ‘flagrant contradiction’ at the heart of social media and the reason maybe, why so many of us enjoy its actuality and potential so much.
More to the point, it leads to a need to at some point rework logic. Maybe Hegel will come back into fashion one day.