The article considers how the nature of tensegrity structures alters our conception of opposition.
A Model of Opposition: Comparing Traditional Structures and Tensegrity
The world emerges from the interaction of related opposites. It can be argued that any idea can only be considered because it exists in a dialectic: hot makes sense because there is cold, freedom because of slavery, doubt because of certainty and so on.
In dialectical thinking, the opposites, termed thesis and anti-thesis, are usually depicted as the terminal points of a line: the thesis is on the left and the anti-thesis on the right, or vice a versa. The line itself exists in some unstated void, an environment that can support the thesis and antithesis and their dynamic interaction. If you were to construct such a model, the physical relationship between the two opposites would be dependent on the physical nature of the materials between them; for example, if you made it of a wooden beam with two opposing globes, the globes that represent the opposites are held apart due to the structure of the wood between them. Even more germane to this discussion, the globes would be identical, expressing opposite ideas by signifying those ideas without embodying them, just as a finger pointing at the moon has no craters.
Tensegrity, on the other hand, isolates the opposites of tension and compression in a self-cohering structure. The opposites are not identical in any way. The tension members are continuous, and contribute to the structure through their tendency to resist being pulled apart. The compression members are discontinuous, and contribute to the structure through their tendency to resist being packed closer together.
In the end, the tensegrity stresses aspects of opposition not apparent in the traditional models. See also Yin Yang.
True opposition is not between variations of like qualities: it is between dis-similar qualities
In and out, hot and cold, old and new are not really oppositions, in that each opposite state is so similar and can be described as a state along a continuum. Instead, tension and compression, space and matter, radiation and gravitation are the kinds of true oppositions that constitute the world. While hot and cold can both be measured by the relative kinetic energy of their constituent brownian motions, there is no continuum that can describe space and matter. They are completely different. Tensegrity offers a model of how such completely different opposites can participate in creating a self-stabilizing structure.
Comparing Codependent Origination Traditional and Tensegrity Models
This philosophical approach reaches one of its pinnacle of expression in the Buddhist tradition of pratītyasamutpāda often translated as "dependent arising." is a cardinal doctrine in Buddhism, that refers to the causal relations between the psychophysical phenomena that sustain dukkha (dissatisfaction) in worldly experience. It is variously rendered into English as "dependent arising", "conditioned genesis", "dependent co-arising", and "interdependent arising" and is an elaboration of the second Noble Truth.