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Our Binary World

The term “binary” simply refers to anything that has two parts or pieces. For example, the term ‘binary choice’ is a choice between two things. In the context of computing, binary codes are used to store information. Computer scientists often refer to the two binary symbols as on/off, true/false or 0/1. There are lots of different ways to store information, so why use binary? Because transistors are the foundation of computation in all modern computers, and transistors have only two ‘states’.

‘Gender binary’ (also known as gender binarism) is the classification of gender into two distinct, opposite forms of masculine and feminine, whether by social system, cultural belief, or both simultaneously. Most cultures recognise a gender binary, having two genders (boys/girls, men/women, boys/men and girls/women).

Computers are binary in nature

Binary thought has an ancient history. The idea for modern binary computers may well have come from an ancient Chinese book called ‘the I Ching’ (Book of Changes). This book describes sixty-four, six line arrangements of the two binary states known as yin and yang. Visually, the lines of the I Ching are often shown as whole or broken (one piece or two pieces) and have the added feature of being static or changing as well.
The I Ching system is used as a psychological, philosophical and divinitory tool and became popular in the West during the 1960s and 1970s.

The first translation of the I Ching

The first translation of The I Ching and still considered the most erudite was made by Richard Wilhelm, a German sinologist, theologian and missionary. He lived in China for 25 years, became fluent in spoken and written Chinese and grew to love and admire the Chinese people. He is best remembered for his translations of philosophical works from Chinese into German that in turn have been translated into other major languages of the world, including English. The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, was a personal friend of Wilhelm’s and provided an introduction to the Book of Changes.

Is the basis of existence binary?

This question has been around a long time. Another term for binary is ‘duality’, so is the universe dual in nature is another way of asking the same question?
‘Light’ is an example of duality in nature (waves and particles), day and night, solids and fluids.
Ideas like coming and going, giving and taking, building and destroying, laughing and crying, up and down us and them, and of course life and death are all examples of the dual nature of the world we live in.

Opposites, compliments, reverse, contrasting, diametric, polar and many more words can be found strewn amongst the English and other languages that emphasise the dual and binary nature of our existence.

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