Re: ATOMISM: Crackpot Theory

Anton Sherwood (
Mon, 16 Mar 1998 22:44:16 -0700

Ian Goddard wrote:

> If "identity" is "same as," then if I am different
> than everything, I have no identity.

Luckily, you're not different from yourself.

> The definition
> of "identity" as "same as" is a total confusion as
> to the nature of what identity IS. To the absolute
> contrary, "identity" is "different than."

Again: you're confusing identity with description. You have in the past
given examples such as "the shortest man in the world", and rightly
pointed out that the man is so described only because there are other
people. But this is description, not identity. The man would still be
identical to himself if he were the only man in the universe; his
identity would remain, only his description would change.

> Minus
> difference is minus identity,

Black is white. Ignorance is strength.

> and therefore to
> define identity based upon the similarity of a
> thing with itself is an error and irrational.

And yet that is how "identity" is defined, according to the very
dictionaries you cited. The word was coined (in the 14C, OED)
from the Latin word _idem_ `the same'. Please make a note of that:
_idem_ does not mean `different'.

> The difference between A and A is null, is zero,
> and thus the statement "A=A" is a null statement.

It is a null statement, yes, in that it provides no new information.
But if A and B (not previously known to be identical) are equated (A=B),
that is new information: the amount of difference between A and B is
measured and found to be zero.

Perhaps we need to distinguish between mathematical identity - identity
as applied to abstract constructs, which can be indefinitely copied
without creating a distinction between the copies - and the identity of
a tangible object (with itself). The tune of "Greensleeves" and that of
"What Child Is This" are identical, but two copies of the sheet-music
for "Greensleeves" are not.

> Identity is 100% holistic and 0% atomistic, and
> thus, a 100% atomistic definition is 100% false.

You seem to be defining identity as "description by relation to
something else". That's an interesting concept, and no doubt there's
room for plenty of discussion about it; but it's *not* identity.

> >> and since nobody has ever been able to show
> >> a single example where this claim is true
> >> -- showing A being A free from any associa-
> >> tion to not-A --
> >-- which is not an element of that or any other definition of
> >identity that I've ever come across --
> IAN: Well I don't know what definitions
> your reading, but even the Three Laws of
> Thought -- (1) A is A (2) A is not both A
> and not-A (3) A is A or not-A -- could not
> more clearly define the "identity" of A as
> being 100% exclusive to A, which is false.

I don't know what you mean by "association" here, but these Laws clearly
do *not* deny all relation between A and not-A: they have the relation
of inequality or non-identity. (Duh.)

If I say "there is no relation between A and B," I do *not* mean that A
and B are never equal; I mean that no statement about their equality is
consistently true -- they're sometimes equal, sometimes not, without any
causal linkage. If on the other hand "A and B are never equal", there
*is* a relation between them (the Pauli exclusion principle is an

"How'd ya like to climb this high without no mountain?" --Porky Pine
Anton Sherwood   *\\*   +1 415 267 0685
!! visiting New Mexico, end of March !!