BLOGNAME: LOUDER THAN WORDSAn informal, stream-of-consciousness reflection on business ideas, events and issues in modern business, modern life and with some specifics to the web-software industry by Paul Tomori, Internet Entrepreneur
By Paul Tomori
Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at 14:33:22 (EDT)
One of my favorite word combinations is one of my least favorite personality traits... passive-aggressive. I have always been fascinated by the laws of non-contradiction postulated by Aristotle... they go something like this:
1. A is A - that is, a thing is itself. This is a law of identity that pre-supposes that objects can be conceptualized and named
2. If a thing is A it cannot be non-A. This is the specific law of non-contradiction
3. Everything is either A or it is non-A
One of my Philosophy professors attempted to refute Aristotle's postulations with examples like this:
a) are you not simultaneously living.... AND dying
b) a cup can be half empty and half full
c) are you not the boy/girl you once were and simultaneously the man/woman you presently are?
I remember at the time thinking that his approach was very calm.... and passive, yet his unstated, but very implied pro-communist agenda was decidedly aggressive.
As far as I was concerned, the only real contradictions that could exist were within human's themselves and he was a shining example. Notwithstanding that, he was exceptionally inspiring in many other ways.... and a truly brilliant person.
My responses to his examples were:
a) yes, we may all be living and simultaneously dying in some respects, but we are not living and non-living simultaneously, which would be the true contradiction... touche for Aristotle
b) yes, a cup can be half full or half empty depending on one's perception, but what is impossible is for the bottom half of the cup to be full and simultaneously empty.... THAT would be a contradiction, but that doesn't ever happen. Touche again for Aristotle
c) age is nothing more than a chronology really, so to suggest that we are the child we were and simultaneously the adult we presently are... and to cite this as an example of contradiction is patently absurd. Being adult means we have lived through a succession of time markers. We can't have traversed these markers and yet NOT have traversed those markers! This is not to say that some adults don't act like children and vice versa, but you can't extract qualitative attributes that exist without contradiction and then render them as examples of contradiction by playing with the words.
Anyway, here's to non-contradiction. And as an aside, if you are the passive-aggressive type, hey, the goal isn't to be passive or aggressive.... or passive-aggressive.... just calmly state your position or your request and you might be surprised at how well, the world aligns with you. Aristotle knew a thing or two.
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