Both Can Be True

4 min read

The phrase “both can be true” refers to the idea that two seemingly contradictory statements or viewpoints can simultaneously hold merit and validity. This concept encourages open-minded thinking and avoids false dichotomies. Examining issues from multiple perspectives allows us to gain a more nuanced understanding of complex topics.

The Origin of “Both Can Be True”

The notion of multiple truths dates back thousands of years across various cultures and schools of philosophy. Principles like Yin and Yang recognize the interdependence between opposing forces. Dialectics explore how contrasting viewpoints can interact to form new syntheses. Postmodernism contends that many experiences and narratives hold subjective meaning. “Both can be true” has become a popular phrase in modern times as people aim to promote inclusivity and compassion when dialoguing about divisive issues.

Ways Both Can Be True

There are several key ways in which both sides of an argument can hold truth simultaneously:

– The Framing Differs
How a situation gets presented provides context that impacts the perceived truth. Two people could describe the same event very differently based on their unique vantage points.

– Values and Priorities Diverge
Individuals have varying principles and priorities which inform their worldview. Two valid perspectives can disagree if they prioritize conflicting values.

– Different Contexts Matter
The circumstances surrounding a case can change the relevant facts. What may seem true in one setting does not always apply equivalently in another.

– Parts Hold Truth
Sometimes, one side is partially right and the other is also partially right. Discrete elements on both sides may have merit even if the complete positions appear contradictory.

– Truth is Complex
Truth is often nuanced and multi-layered. Situations frequently defy simplistic binaries. By exploring many vantage points, we can get closer to understanding complex truths.

Embracing “Both Can Be True”

Accepting the principle of “both can be true” requires flexibility, critical thinking, and empathy. We must recognize when we need to zoom out and see an issue from multiple valid standpoints instead of clinging to a single perception. Some tips for applying “both can be true” include:

– Asking clarifying questions to understand all sides of a debate

– Checking your own assumptions and biases

– Avoiding charged language that divides issues into two camps

– Finding shared values underlying differing viewpoints

– Synthesizing and integrating insights from competing perspectives

– Evaluating the contextual relevance and factual accuracy of each claim

– Weighing how much truth exists within each viewpoint

The Limits of “Both Can Be True”

“Both can be true” does not mean all perspectives always hold equal worth. There are still plenty of situations where one claim is more truthful, ethical, or accurate than another. Additional critical thinking helps determine instances where:

– One side is completely right and the other is completely wrong

– One viewpoint heavily skews or misrepresents the truth

– Accepting another stance requires compromising on ethics or facts

– An argument is built on false dichotomies or flawed logic

By carefully considering the nuances and limits of “both can be true,” we can maximize the benefits of this mindset while still upholding reason, facts, and principles.

Fostering Understanding Through Dialectical Thinking

At its core, “both can be true” represents a dialectical approach to unpacking complex issues and avoiding polarized thinking. Dialectics refers to reconciling contradictory perspectives to uncover deeper truths. By applying dialectical thinking, we can:

– Gain more well-rounded understandings of multifaceted topics

– Find compatibility between ideas that initially appeared incompatible

– Arrive at intelligent compromises, integrations, and solutions

– Uphold nuance and avoid reductive categorization

– Bridge communication divides between opposing groups

In summary, “both can be true” promotes open-minded yet critical thinking. By considering multiple vantage points and embracing nuance, we can enhance understanding, compassion, and cooperation when exploring divisive topics. This mindset allows us to navigate an increasingly complex world.


The notion that seemingly opposing viewpoints can simultaneously hold truth has existed for centuries across philosophy, politics, culture, and other disciplines. “Both can be true” has become a popular phrase to express this concept in a concise and approachable way. Embracing the principle does not mean all perspectives always carry equal weight, but rather that most issues defy simplistic binaries. By applying nuanced, dialectical thinking that integrates multiple vantage points, we gain a richer understanding of complex truths and shared values. The “both can be true” philosophy provides a thoughtful approach to bridging divides and upholding compassion when exploring divisive topics. Though meaningful differences remain, mutually comprehensible truth often resides at an integrative midpoint.

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