Thread: Do all things have an opposite?

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  1. #1
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    Question Do all things have an opposite?

    I was having a discussion with a hyper-articulate taoist just now, who was saying that everything had an opposite, it was how the universe balanced out and all that jazz. Reminded me of dialectics, actually. Anyway, he's giving all these examples, Up+Down, Cold+Hot, etc. I aksed what the opposite of a banana was, and he replied "not-banana". Is this right? Does it make sense? I suggested that "not banana" was not a "thing" and that you couldn't just invent an abstract concept that didn't even exist to to keep opposites going.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    -Alex
    Last edited by BurnTheOliveTree; 25th January 2008 at 11:07.
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    How can cold be an opposite of heat, when it is just the absence of heat?
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    Some things have many opposites (like the sides of irregular polygons), and some none, for example, a kettle.

    Now, if he says 'not kettle' , then that makes the rest of the universe its 'opposite', and the word 'opposite' loses all meaning'.

    [And how does the rest of the universe 'balance' a kettle?]

    [You will have the same problem with dialecticians, who hold exaclty the same beliefs, except they deny they are mystics. Ha!]

    Your next tactic should be to ask 'him' how he knows this to be so. Simply gluing a 'not' onto a word does not guarantee that that alleged opposite exists. For example, "an extinct Do Do"; "something which exists".

    If that fails, start screwing around with 'him', for 'he' is not a serious thinker -- try "The eigth person to think of a correct answer to your puzzle'; "The word 'not'"; "The end of this sente...'; "anything which can be thought about"; "the next number I am not going to mention"; "something with no opposite"; "not something with an opposite"; "not something not balanced"; "a dismantled see-saw that used to have a pile of bricks at one end and nothing at the other"; "not everything which can be put next to most things that have been in Paris on a Thursday, not partially painted green by no one with a left hand, and dumped half cerimoniously into a skip not placed between two chinese restaurants...".

    Then poke 'him' in the eye and ask 'him' what the opposite if that is...

    [The thing with dialectical Marxists, however, is that they at least pretend to be scientific, and say they do not impose their ideas on nature, so you can get them on that (but then they sulk, or refuse to listen). Taoists, like Buddhists, are quite happy to play words games, and imagine that this means something.]
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 25th January 2008 at 13:50.
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    Rosa we can quibble with your examples.

    Now, if he says 'not kettle' , then that makes the rest of the universe its 'opposite', and the word 'opposite' loses all meaning'.
    "Everything which exists which is not a kettle"... why is this a meaningless phrase (apart from the definition of "exists")?
    Simply gluing a 'not' onto a word does not guarantee that that alleged opposite exists. For example, "an extinct Do Do"; "something which exists".
    "Something which exists" is a subset of something which is not an extinct dodo.

    As for the word not, isn't it a quirk of English to prohibit double negatives? These are perfectly OK in some languages so that a "not a not-bicycle" must of necessity be a bicycle.

    The more prudent course seems to me to accept that for every X one can conjure up a "non-X", and concede to the Daoist that our understanding of the world consists of opposites by definition of X and not-X.

    More generally, what is the harm in doing that?
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    I wouldn't say that the Taoist is "wrong", but restricted in application. If his intention is to do something charming, like write poetry or drama, he is vindicated. But his kind of thinking is not useful for any practical task, such as building a house, or improving society.
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    I was having a discussion with a hyper-articulate taoist just now, who was saying that everything had an opposite, it was how the universe balanced out and all that jazz. Reminded me of dialectics, actually. Anyway, he's giving all these examples, Up+Down, Cold+Hot, etc. I aksed what the opposite of a banana was, and he replied "not-banana". Is this right? Does it make sense? I suggested that "not banana" was not a "thing" and that you couldn't just invent an abstract concept that didn't even exist to to keep opposites going.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    -Alex
    Yes because there is anti-matter.
    "How you cling to your purity, young man! How afraid you are to soil your hands! All right, stay pure! What good will it do? Why did you join us? Purity is an idea for a yogi or a monk. You intellectuals and Bourgeois anarchists use it as a pretext for doing nothing. To do nothing, to remain motionless, arms at your sides, wearing kids gloves. Well, I have dirty hands. Right up to the elbows. I've plunged them in the filth and blood. But what do you hope? Do you think you'll govern innocently?"
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    MarksSchmarx:

    why is this a meaningless phrase (apart from the definition of "exists")?
    Read what I said:

    Now, if he says 'not kettle' , then that makes the rest of the universe its 'opposite', and the word 'opposite' loses all meaning.
    Which it does.

    "Something which exists" is a subset of something which is not an extinct dodo.
    "Something which exists" does not define a set, nor yet a sub-set.

    And, neither does "something which is not an extinct dodo".

    As for the word not, isn't it a quirk of English to prohibit double negatives?
    "not not" is not the opposite of "not", for if it were, then so would "not not not not" (and so on), and the definite article would be misplaced.

    These are perfectly OK in some languages so that a "not a not-bicycle" must of necessity be a bicycle.
    Not my example; it's yours, and you can get on it.

    The more prudent course seems to me to accept that for every X one can conjure up a "non-X", and concede to the Daoist that our understanding of the world consists of opposites by definition of X and not-X.
    "non-X" and "not X" are not the same, as even Aristotle recognised.

    And negation is not an opposite forming operator.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 26th January 2008 at 15:48.
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    Wat:

    Yes because there is anti-matter.
    Which may be the opposte of matter, but not of banana.

    Now if you had said "anti-banana", you might have been on to something, but, as far as I am aware, the world of anti-matter is not that well organised.
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    Wat:



    Which may be the opposte of matter, but not of banana.

    Now if you had said "anti-banana", you might have been on to something, but, as far as I am aware, the world of anti-matter is not that well organised.
    I don't see any reason why an anti-matter banana couldn't be grown/constructed or an anti-matter kettle constructed either. It might be safer to say that not everything has an opposite, but the capability exists for everything to have an opposite.
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    Rebel dog:

    I don't see any reason why an anti-matter banana couldn't be grown/constructed or an anti-matter kettle constructed either. It might be safer to say that not everything has an opposite, but the capability exists for everything to have an opposite.
    Are there any anti-matter bananas out there?

    If there are, let me know (and also post the evidence).

    [But which is 'the' opposite of any one ordinary banana? If you cannot say, then there might be billions of such 'opposites', and the definite article is once more misplaced.]

    And no Taoist worth her salt will be happy with a 'capability'.

    [But what about 'something with no capability to have an opposite'?]

    By the way, were you once 'Dissenter'?
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 26th January 2008 at 15:15.
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    Which may be the opposte of matter, but not of banana
    Urm. Physically speaking, a Banana made up of anti-matter (an anti-banana) would be the opposite.

    Conseptually though, they're not.
    "How you cling to your purity, young man! How afraid you are to soil your hands! All right, stay pure! What good will it do? Why did you join us? Purity is an idea for a yogi or a monk. You intellectuals and Bourgeois anarchists use it as a pretext for doing nothing. To do nothing, to remain motionless, arms at your sides, wearing kids gloves. Well, I have dirty hands. Right up to the elbows. I've plunged them in the filth and blood. But what do you hope? Do you think you'll govern innocently?"
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    Wat, but which 'anti-banana' is the opposite?

    If you cannot say, and if there are billions of these, it cannot be the opposite.

    The definite article rules out competitors, here.

    And are there any anti-bananas out there?

    Just because we have a word for something does not imply it exists -- otherwise we'd all have to believe in 'god'.

    We need an anti-greengrocer to sell you an anti-banana before your example can even be considered viable.

    And even if it did exist, why is it an or the 'opposite' as opposed to its 'nemesis', or 'enemy', or 'competitor', or potential destroyer?

    And even then, while we might choose to call it an/the 'opposite', nature still pays no heed to our linguistic foibles.
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    The positron is the anti matter partner of the electron, there is an antiproton an antineutron and so on. It could theoretically be possible to build things which could be considered the anti-matter counterpart of anything made of conventional matter and vice-versa. Whether you or I would call the anti-matter equivalent the 'opposite' of the matter object is, as usual, a question of semantics. But it looks to me like the anti-matter counterpart of any object is as good an example as anything I've heard of something having an opposite, if indeed something can. I would reaffirm my previous point that one could construct an anti-matter 'opposite' for any conventional matter entity, and thus everything tangible, material can have an anti-matter opposite at the very least. The argument should be not; can we have an anti-matter banana? It should be; is an anti-matter banana the opposite of of a conventional matter banana?

    By the way, were you once 'Dissenter'?
    I was.
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    Dissenter-as-was:

    The positron is the anti matter partner of the electron, there is an antiproton an antineutron and so on. It could theoretically be possible to build things which could be considered the anti-matter counterpart of anything made of conventional matter and vice-versa. Whether you or I would call the anti-matter equivalent the 'opposite' of the matter object is, as usual, a question of semantics. But it looks to me like the anti-matter counterpart of any object is as good an example as anything I've heard of something having an opposite, if indeed something can. I would reaffirm my previous point that one could construct an anti-matter 'opposite' for any conventional matter entity, and thus everything tangible, material can have an anti-matter opposite at the very least. The argument should be not; can we have an anti-matter banana? It should be; is an anti-matter banana the opposite of of a conventional matter banana?
    I thought the proton was the 'opposite' of the electron.

    Anyway, as even Hegel realised, unless you can show there is one and only one 'opposite' (he called it the 'other'), then you have no theory of change (or stability). Unfortunately, he failed in this task too, and so will anyone who just sticks a negative particle (i.e., a 'not' or even an 'anti-') in front of a chosen word.

    For, if the opposite of A is not-A, then everything in the universe that is not A is its opposite. And so we would not in that case have 'the' opposite of A. Same with electrons.

    Anyway, I digress; has anyone constructed an anti-matter banana yet?

    So, your post is mostly empty words, then.

    And, you will need to deal with the objections I posted to Wat Tyler too.
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    Evidently, "not-banana" is not the "opposite" of banana in the same sence that "up" is the opposite of down.

    If we don't define the terms, we are talking about meaningless generalities. And I somehow doubt that the word "opposite" makes sence when applied to physical objects.

    Luís Henrique
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    Which may be the opposte of matter, but not of banana.
    But is the opposite of matter anti-matter, or vacuum?

    Luís Henrique
    The world is not as it is, but as it is constructed.

    Falsely attributed to Lenin
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    But is the opposite of "up" "down"?

    When I say "up", I mean the "opposite" of what a Japanese means when s/he says "up".

    Cold+Hot
    This pair is "opposite" in a very different sence; for there is no such thing as "cold" (except in our sensibility): what we perceive as "cold" is in fact less heath.

    Luís Henrique
    The world is not as it is, but as it is constructed.

    Falsely attributed to Lenin
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    I thought the proton was the 'opposite' of the electron.
    So you do think things have 'opposites'. They have opposite charges of course.

    Anyway, I digress; has anyone constructed an anti-matter banana yet?
    How would I know? I never claimed anyone has. All I claimed was is that it is possible.

    So, your post is mostly empty words, then.
    You've never speculated in your life then?

    And, you will need to deal with the objections I posted to Wat Tyler too.
    Well I don't have to do anything actually, but being a generous soul I will anyway.

    Wat, but which 'anti-banana' is the opposite?
    It would be possible to make many anti matter bananas which are identical in every way possible, just like it could be for normal bananas. What could definitely comprise the 'opposite' banana might be the one that annihilates the conventional banana.

    Just because we have a word for something does not imply it exists -- otherwise we'd all have to believe in 'god'.
    Agreed.

    We need an anti-greengrocer to sell you an anti-banana before your example can even be considered viable.
    Any normal matter physical construct can be recreated in anti-matter form. My point is its possible, not that such complex things already exist.

    And even if it did exist, why is it an or the 'opposite' as opposed to its 'nemesis', or 'enemy', or 'competitor', or potential destroyer?

    And even then, while we might choose to call it an/the 'opposite', nature still pays no heed to our linguistic foibles.
    Again agreed. All I'm saying that if there is such a concept in nature as opposites then particles and their anti-matter partners could be opposites in nature.

    Its starting to worry me that my friends and family might find out I sit up at night talking about anti-matter bananas.

    Dissenter-as-was:
    Is that an attempt at minor insolence?
    "The essence of all slavery consists in taking the product of another's labor by force. It is immaterial whether this force be founded upon ownership of the slave or ownership of the money that he must get to live" -Leo Tolstoy

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    LH:

    But is the opposite of matter anti-matter, or vacuum?
    I don't think our linguistic intuitions are very good here, and it does not matter what we say, nature takes no heed of our fancies.

    The opposite of matter could even be 'spirit', or 'mind'.

    Who can say?
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    Dissenter-as-was:

    Is that an attempt at minor insolence?
    No, I call many others here by the same sort of name (for example I call Red Anarchist, 'TAKN-as-was').

    I only do it to those who I respect. So, please do not take offence.

    So you do think things have 'opposites'.
    No, I was arguing ad hominem (in the correct meaning of that phrase -- i.e., seeking to reveal inconsistencies in another's argument, without committing myself either way).

    All I claimed was is that it is possible.
    Based on what theory?

    You've never speculated in your life then?
    In Philosophy, I did once upon a time, and then realised it was a total waste of time, or worse.

    And I leave science to the scientists.

    It would be possible to make many anti matter bananas which are identical in every way possible, just like it could be for normal bananas. What could definitely comprise the 'opposite' banana might be the one that annihilates the conventional banana.
    Once more, based on what theory (and by that I do not mean 'vague gestures at a half-assed guess at a theory')?

    All I'm saying that if there is such a concept in nature as opposites then particles and their anti-matter partners could be opposites in nature.
    Well, there are no concepts in nature, and the word "opposite" does not come with a licence attached that allows anyone who feels like it to glue it onto anything they like, and then imagine they have made a scientific advance.

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