Day vs. Night - Essay Example

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These ideas can be referred to as binary oppositions. “Essentially, the concept of the binary opposition is engendered by the Western propensity to organize…
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Day vs. Night
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Day vs. Night The way we understand the world around us is often defined in our language through comparison or by what it is not. These ideas can be referred to as binary oppositions. “Essentially, the concept of the binary opposition is engendered by the Western propensity to organize everything into a hierarchical structure; terms and concepts are related to positives or negatives, with no apparent latitude for deviation” (Fogarty, 2005). For example, we usually know what is meant by the term light because we have a good mental conception of what is meant by dark. In looking at these kinds of oppositions, it is sometimes helpful to discover the various ways in which the elements involved are similar in order to understand better about how they are actually different. When it comes to discussing ideas, we tend to try to lump things into a yes or no situation, black or white or day or night. When you look closer at the picture, though, there is often a lot more maybe, grey or dusk involved in the comparison. One opposition considered so opposite that they have nothing at all in common is the opposition of day and night.
There are many ways in which day and night are similar. They are both required to make up a complete cycle of the earth for example. While the time period of one may be longer at one time of the year, it is generally shorter at another time so that the world is dark approximately half the time and light the other half the time. Both day and night are regulated in their duration by the rotation of the earth around the sun and are a natural part of the physical properties of the world. Life on earth has developed with a dependence upon these alternating cycles of light and darkness in order to survive. Some plants and animals depend upon the hours of sunlight to generate the energy they require to survive just as they require the hours of darkness as a time in which they are able to regenerate. However, different processes occur at night, making different plants and animals active during this period of time under the cover of darkness and rest during the daylight hours. Both day and night are bordered by periods of transition in which it is neither day nor night and they are both presided over by a heavenly body.
Despite these similarities, though, it is true that there are at least as many differences between day and night as there are similarities. While day is presided over by the brilliant yellow light of the sun, the night is ruled by the reflected blue light of the moon. Although the sun is always visible in a clear sky during the day, the moon is sometimes missing from the night sky when the shadow of the earth falls upon it. Day begins with dawn and ends with dusk while night begins with dusk and ends at dawn. The earth heats up during the day under the light of this sun, but it cools down during the night under the protection of the moon. Individual species engage in typically opposite behavior during the day than they participate in at night. Plants, for example, frequently emit oxygen during the day and carbon dioxide at night (Ni, 2007). Most humans are active during the day and sleep at night. Because of the different forms of light source, vision is vastly different during the day than during the night. Human eyes are capable of seeing a number of colors and a great deal of depth while in the light of the sun, but the natural light of the night enables us to see little more than basic shapes and shades of grey.
When we look around at the world, it is very easy to categorize things into either/or situations or binary oppositions. This is a handy cognitive tool when we have to learn about our surroundings quickly, but it can blind us to the possibilities when we forget to appropriately reassess our quick impressions or long-held assumptions. One of these assumptions is an idea that carries over from childhood – that day and night are completely opposite. Comparing these two ideas reveals that they actually have much more in common than one might imagine.
Fogarty, Sorcha. (February 15, 2005). “Binary Oppositions.” Literary Encyclopedia. France: University College Cork.
Ni, Maoshing. (March 5, 2007). “Plants and Oxygen: An Explanation.” Yahoo Health. Available July 14, 2009 from Read More
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