While reading through my currently featured book, Proving Contraries (Signature, 2005), I've been stewing over the title. It bothers me. The phrase comes from a Joseph Smith quote ("By proving contraries, truth is made manifest") and it sounds like just the sort of thing that would thrill a writer — a creative phrase that springs some verbal tension on the reader, hence its use as the title for the book. But writers and English profs never have to prove anything. In mathematics, one technique for proving an assertion is to assume the opposite, then show by careful mathematical argument that it implies a contradiction, hence the assumption can be rejected. In other words, by rejecting contraries, truth is made manifest. That's how I see things. So I need to dig a little deeper to be happy with the title.
A famous set of contraries is Kant's Antinomies. I can't say I have really plumbed the depths on Kant (who has?), but he didn't really resolve these contraries. In a sense, their unresolvability spurred him on to his transcendental enlightenment: instead of rejecting the contraries, he accepted them and rejected truth (as rationalism depicted it). Thus, by accepting contraries, truth is fruitfully deconstructed. Okay, maybe we're getting somewhere.
Then I stumbled onto the medieval doctrine of twofold truth, discussed briefly in this Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Averroes (third paragraph down). In a nutshell, the doctrine holds that what is false in philosophy can, at the same time, be true in theology, and vice versa. Here's a quote from the article:
Averroes advocated the principle of twofold truth, maintaining that religion has one sphere and philosophy another. Religion, he said, is for the unlettered multitude; philosophy for the chosen few. Religion teaches by signs and symbols; philosophy presents the truth itself. In the mind, therefore, of the truly enlightened, philosophy supersedes religion. But, though the philosopher sees that what is true in theology is false in philosophy, he should not on that account condemn religious instruction, because he would thereby deprive the multitude of the only means which it has of attaining a (symbolic) knowledge of the truth.
This probably rubs you the wrong way; the doctrine of twofold truth hasn't fared well in the modern era. However, it strikes me as similar to compartmentalization, a standard coping technique of educated Mormons when faced with contrary claims between religion and science, such as Book of Mormon claims about Israelites/Nephites in America versus the disturbing lack of archaeological evidence for that claim. Solution: compartmentalize. Averroes apparently advocated a sophisticated formulation of compartmentalization. For what it's worth, medieval Scholastics rejected that approach: Scotus and Aquinas would have none of that two truths stuff. Truth was truth and had to be consistent, even if there were two roads (natural reason and divine revelation) to get there. "Truth brooks no contraries" might be their slogan.
How about just "Pondering Contraries?"