TWO: the first count big enough to include a possible spare

Duality modelling is an established human inclination. They seem unable to resist modelling nature by attempting to simplify its complexities into a pair of polarities. Light and dark, positive and negative, port and starboard, true and false, life and death, etc, etc... So persuasive and appealing can such dualities be, especially to individuals with no aspiration to think for themselves, that entire religions have been fabricated around the idea.

From a simple numerical perspective, 'two' is in many ways the essence of countability. Following a first successful application, it is the cumulative total arrived at after the same counting criteria has been applied one more time. Mathematicians might find it convenient to contemplate a count of zero when they haven't counted anything, or a count of one when they have only identified a single entity, but gardeners don't really feel like they have made any progress until they have got to 'two'. Supposing that a collection of two apples and a collection of two oranges have something in common, and postulating an idealized quantity of 'twoness'... which somehow enjoys an existential presence... continues to engender much philosophical confusion. Firstly, a collection of 'two' entities is only a 'collection' because an awareness has deemed it to be so. 'Collections' only exist in the minds of awarenesses. Secondly, it has only been deemed to have 'two' members because because an awareness has indulged in the temporal process of counting. It is not physically possible to arrive at an accumulation of two instantaneously... however much an individual might claim to be able to do so. The brain processes must scan the information presented in the visual field, and count/accumulate the number of entities in sequence. 'Two' is an accumulation, not an exitential essence.

Suppose... as is commonly done... a counting process is set up to get some numerical data on fairy-beans. Once the count recorder is set to zero and the start button has been pushed, few gardeners would claim that any counting has been done until a suitable fairy-bean entity is actually found. In spite of this, certain researchers and mathematicians are quite willing to promote the initial zero as a valid count. The former might do so to persuade the funding providers that progress was being made, and the latter to ensure their theorems could be presented in a cosmically general format. If in fact a fairy-bean-like entity is identified, the counter can be poked, the fairyish-beanish thing tagged as counted, and the search widened. The researchers will be able to report their breakthru to the sponsors with relief and confidence. The down-to earth reality however, is that although the counter is now recording a 'one', it is as unimpressive a total as is possible... bar one. An entity has been identified maybe, but the essence of countability is accumulation. Claiming to have accumulated only one, is rather akin to claiming to have exposed a dilemma when only one of its horns has been uncovered.

So much success in life seems to hinge on getting past 'one'. By looking further afield and creatively tweaking the criteria for fairy-beanness... by perhaps including asymmetrical beans or transparent fairies... it is usually possible to get things under way in a convincingly reassuring manner. The counter will be authorized to register the magic digit 'two' one way or another. Now at last there is real counting. Now at last there is credibility. The funding is assured and an expanded program clearly justified.

In the domain of 'twoness' a 'spare' does not contribute the advantages of a 'pair'. With respect to two indistinguishable or functionally equivalent entities, if one is in service then the other would be deemed to be the spare. When one spade is being used to dig a hole, the spare hangs oiled in the shed. The light-bulb glows its life away, and the spare in its box awaits the inevitable catastrophic failure. When an incautious individual allows themselves to be involved in a bigamous situation, the probability would be that whilst the one partner was being occupied sexually, the other would be considered to be a spare. In contrast to this, the duality of pairing... particularly in circumstances of reflective symmetry... confer advantages that are significantly greater than 'oneness' plus a spare. Two eyes are more than just one eye and a spare. They contribute a wider field of view and binocular vision. Two reflectively symmetric hands offer many advantages which include increased power, improved grasping abilities and left-right rotational options. Even the horns of a dilemma cannot be reduced to one lemma and its duplicate.

If there was to be any modern secular glorification of a duality, it would have to be for the on-off binary polarities of electromagnetic switches. Few individuals, who use any one of the myriad of technological devices being created, have the slightest concept of the innumerable continuous switch reversals that make the functioning of their device possible.