The obverse side of the coin is the heads side; not the tails. Right? What could be clearer, less ambiguous?
Nothing: on a coin. But what about other human dualiites? Male / Female? Rich / Poor? Matter / Energy? Wait. Before investing mental processing in any of those pairings, in or proposing pairings of your own to process, stay with me and let me propose a couple I promise are fertile: and don't forget, I'm laying tracks toward a question of ambiguity in what's obverse in complex dualities. I precede a bulls eye with a near hit:
What is an American public's purpose in censoring Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn from school and public libraries? Well, the claimed purpose (from traditional racists of course) is to combat racism. Twain's characters say "nigger," are called "nigger" ... and "nigger" is lower case. First, here's an example. In Huck the protagonist stumbles onto a down-river aunt of his friend Tom Sawyer that his up-river friend is scheduled to visit. There are some cute confusions of identity, the friends loyally trying to cover for each other. In any event Auntie asks the presumed "Tom" why he's so late. "Tom" claims that there was an accident, an explosion on the river boat. Auntie exclaims and asks, "Was anyone hurt?" "No ma'am. Killed a nigger," our slick liar replies. Either Huck or Tom could easily improvise such a lie: they're boys, they've cleaver, they're anti-Authoritarian ... And neither of them is a died-to-the-marrow racist, but they both speak the language and dress in the costumes of their day. So, I ask: is censoring such great literature an act opposing racism? Or is it an attempt to cover our history from ourselves and from our children? so racism can continue to poison the culture? invisibily?
Both interpretations are obverse by two different meanings of the word. There's "obverse," meaning "principal reason," and there's also obverse, meaning principal counter-reason.
Ambiguity can dissipate information, dilute it; or ambiguity can multiply information: near double it, more than double it ...
Racism is a classic pk subject, but even more core is schooling and deschooling. What's the obverse purpose of compulsory eduction, administered by state-controlled school bureaucracies? To educate? Or to regiment?
To make us independent? or to cripple us into dependency?
Well, both answers are obverses: incompatible obverses.
Note: Male / Female above: If the woman is on top, is it not intercourse? Is she then guaranteed infertile? Coins are coins, but other dualities are not coins, and are not necessarily simple.
Hey, wait a minute pk: you glibly cite Matter / Energy as a human duality?!?!?
pk answers: I won't back down from that on the basis that all human concepts, including the concepts of physics (including the concept "God"), are exactly that: concepts. And they're all human, no exceptions: at least not until we can meet and compare notes with a non-human sentience. Once we meet intelligent Alderberanis, then we can begin to become objective about who's intelligent, what's sentient ...
2009 02 03 What I've written thus far on the obverse both here and above, is inadequate. Part of my problem as author (and yours as thinking-reader) is that what I have in mind shares subsets with so many other important concepts from ambiguity to limitations of human sentience (with severe limitations to human intelligence and honesty!) I'll try to do a more complete job at my InsTic.blogspot.com.)