Polymorphic Values

In an old joke personality test I made, I gave the deliberately BS question, "Do you value unity or diversity more?"

Stop taking tests

Unity and diversity are polymorphic values: due to the emotional subtexts attached by our culture, most people perceive both as ideographs. But these concepts can mean many different things in different contexts: unity in the software industry could mean standarization of an interface and therefore compatibility, or alternately it could mean monopoly; within a source code repository it could mean standardization of style which doesn't directly impact function but has aesthetic appeal and avoids distracting programmers; in philosophy it could mean a belief set having a clear central idea (elegance); in social contexts it could mean teamwork or group identity or communism or democracy.

Observations on linguistic connotations

There may appear to be a common thread between all those things that we could call "unity". But regardless of whether there is one, some of those concepts are good and some are bad. Sometimes they're at odds with each other. What's not ambiguous is the fact that unity without further specification should not be judged to be "good" or "bad". It's a polymorphic value and using the word in our thoughts is dangerous because it can lead to trying to attach the same judgement to all of these different things.

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