what they are or what they appear to be?
and what of non-empirical entities?
square and overhand are defined by what they are knot...
and holes are defined by what they are not...
If I give you credit for not misspelling knot can you explain the joke?
Holes and space might be a good counter example. A hole isn't a thing is it?
Resha Caner wrote:
Defining what something is implicitly defines what it is not. So, why would it be wrong to make make the implicit explicit?
Maybe what the OP is trying to imply is that it would be impossible to completely define something by what it is not, as that would involve an infinite list ... and thereby a list of many irrelevant things that would only cloud the issue. However, I would offer up the challenge that it is likewise impossible to give a complete definition even by saying what something is.
I would further note that reduction ad absurdum is a powerful technique in mathematics.
Not sure of your point. I would reply that all we need is to know enough about each object to identify them.
chaz wyman wrote:
Things are defined by what they are, not what they are not
Were this to be true then all things would be the same thing; all things would be everything - with out the benefit of making a distinction.
A thing can only be understood by what is not and what it is like. - by making distinctions and similes.
That doesn't seem to make sense to me. A shoe and a nail seem easy to define such that no one would confuse them. Can you explain further?
Things are not defined.
Not in an absolute sense, and not by themselves.
Things may however be defined in relation to other things.
Chaz disagreed and I thought you and he said the same thing. More information is needed for me.
I would add that if you are searching for something then it is necessary to know what it is not.
If you don't know what you are looking for then knowing what not to look for helps a great deal. (If the set of things to choose from is small.)