## Things are defined by what they are, not what they are not.

For all things philosophical.

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Wootah
Posts: 223
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:43 am

### Things are defined by what they are, not what they are not.

Things are defined by what they are, not what they are not.

True or False?
Any counter examples?

Impenitent
Posts: 2316
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:04 pm

### Re: Things are defined by what they are, not what they are n

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...

-Imp

Resha Caner
Posts: 122
Joined: Tue May 08, 2012 4:44 pm
Location: U.S.

### Re: Things are defined by what they are, not what they are n

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.

chaz wyman
Posts: 5329
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:31 pm

### Re: Things are defined by what they are, not what they are n

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.

Notvacka
Posts: 412
Joined: Sat Jun 26, 2010 2:37 am

### Re: Things are defined by what they are, not what they are n

Things are not defined.

Not in an absolute sense, and not by themselves.

Things may however be defined in relation to other things.

chaz wyman
Posts: 5329
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:31 pm

### Re: Things are defined by what they are, not what they are n

Notvacka wrote:Things are not defined.

Not in an absolute sense, and not by themselves.

Things may however be defined in relation to other things.

Things are defined.

Here is an example: And apples is a fruit, it is not like a banana but more like a pear.

QED your first statement is false.

Notvacka
Posts: 412
Joined: Sat Jun 26, 2010 2:37 am

### Re: Things are defined by what they are, not what they are n

chaz wyman wrote:You are contradicting yourself.
Only for emphasis, my friend; in order to contrast my statement against Wootah's original statement.

Let me put it this way:

Things are defined by what they are in relation to other things. Without other things, they are not defined.

Wootah
Posts: 223
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:43 am

### Re: Things are defined by what they are, not what they are n

Impenitent wrote: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...

-Imp
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?
Notvacka wrote: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.)

Impenitent
Posts: 2316
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:04 pm

### Re: Things are defined by what they are, not what they are n

Wootah wrote:
Impenitent wrote: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...

-Imp
If I give you credit for not misspelling knot can you explain the joke?

http://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/Knot (these knots are defined by what they are, knots)

Holes and space might be a good counter example. A hole isn't a thing is it?

a hole is a defined absence ... I suppose it would depend on your definition of thing...

-Imp

LuvPimpinYou
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:55 pm

### Re: Things are defined by what they are, not what they are n

Wootah wrote:Things are defined by what they are, not what they are not.

True or False?
Any counter examples?
False, here is a clear example.

By things, I assume we mean people as well, since they are things in this universe.

Lebron James in NOT a winner(in the ultimate since of the word as it refers, a champion). Plain and simple, definition by what he is NOT, rather that what he is. Which could be classified as a fantastic basketball player.

Thundril
Posts: 357
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:37 pm
Location: Cardiff

### Re: Things are defined by what they are, not what they are n

Wootah wrote:Things are defined by what they are, not what they are not.

True or False?
Any counter examples?
Atheist.
Bachelor.
Counter-example.
Doppelganger.
Ex-Catholic.
Foreigner.

chaz wyman
Posts: 5329
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:31 pm

### Re: Things are defined by what they are, not what they are n

Notvacka wrote:
chaz wyman wrote:You are contradicting yourself.
Only for emphasis, my friend; in order to contrast my statement against Wootah's original statement.

Let me put it this way:

Things are defined by what they are in relation to other things. Without other things, they are not defined.
In other words: Things are defined by what they are like and what they are not like. --- and by what they are the same as, actually.

pmecpa22
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2017 6:52 pm

### Re: Things are defined by what they are, not what they are not.

darkness is the absence of light
cold is the absence of heat
happiness is the absence of misery

bergie15
Posts: 61
Joined: Tue Jun 11, 2013 12:18 am

### Re: Things are defined by what they are, not what they are not.

I think that things can be defined both by what they are and what they are not- like in that example. Those definitions are all true.

Greta
Posts: 4397
Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2015 8:10 am

### Re: Things are defined by what they are, not what they are not.

bergie15 wrote:I think that things can be defined both by what they are and what they are not- like in that example. Those definitions are all true.
Agree. Definitions are fraught and difficult enough so any data is helpful. Certainly scientific research involves excluding that which doesn't work. It's akin to sculpture, where the irrelevant material is removed, creating an ever clearer image. Sticking with the sculpture analogy, the final image will tend to be defined when enough irrelevant non-applicable material is removed to provide clarity.

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