The Law of Identity: What does it mean?

 
Speakpigeon
 
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Speakpigeon
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06 March 2019 08:22
 

This thread is about the Law of Identity: For all things, a thing is itself.
This isn’t a thread about logic or about the logic of the Law of Identity. So, please remember that in your replies.
Some context now…
The Law of Identity has been assumed as an axiom of logic since Aristotle some 2,400 years ago, but a few people here and there deny any validity to it. This is their constitutional right, of course, but some of them, possibly all of them even, may not in fact understand what the Law of Identity means to begin with.
So, here is your chance to articulate eloquently what you think the Law of Identity really means to all of us.
I’m not interested in quirky theories that will inevitably be about something not the Law of Identity. I’m only interested in what you think the Law of Identity means, and means to most people, even those people who have never thought about it, and including what it meant to people like Aristotle who of course are long dead now.
Please also note that as far as I am concerned, whatever explanation as can be found in encyclopedias and such about the subject remains open to debate. We may perhaps improve our understanding of the subject by sharing our most intimate intuitions about it.
Also, please, don’t ramble. Keep to the point and leave the question of the logic of it at the door.
However, please abstain if you can’t articulate your point or argue your position in a rational way, i.e. from logic and facts.
Thank you.
EB

 
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06 March 2019 18:28
 

If a thing is not itself, what could it be?  The thing may be an illusion or a delusion, but then that is simply what it is - it is itself. There is nothing else for it to be but itself, so it is itself by process of elimination.  It cannot be “nothing”, because we are discussing it.  Even if it is only an idea, that is what it is and the law of identity is upheld.  It is itself by definition. 

I’ve never thought about or even heard about it until now, so my thoughts may seem naive. But, if that’s what they are, then that’s what they are… themselves.

 
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06 March 2019 19:02
 
EN - 06 March 2019 06:28 PM

If a thing is not itself, what could it be?  The thing may be an illusion or a delusion, but then that is simply what it is - it is itself. There is nothing else for it to be but itself, so it is itself by process of elimination.  It cannot be “nothing”, because we are discussing it.  Even if it is only an idea, that is what it is and the law of identity is upheld.  It is itself by definition. 

I’ve never thought about or even heard about it until now, so my thoughts may seem naive. But, if that’s what they are, then that’s what they are… themselves.

The Law of Identity is the first of the three Aristotelian laws that underlie his logic. Identity, Contradiction, and Excluded Middle. For Aristotle his logic had metaphysical force, and the Law of Identity was an establishment of the possibility of identities in reality. It connects to Logos, which relates to the capacity of mind to recognize identities in collections (e.g., all cats are identified as cats rather than just a bunch of furry creatures) through grasping of the essential nature. Stripping away the metaphysical and going over to rules for categorical reasoning, the Law of Identity asserts that once terms in a discussion have been defined, this definition cannot be changed in the ensuing discussion. The three Aristotelian laws are geometrical/spatial in a sense: Identity- “a thing is equal to itself” is also the spatial statement “a thing occupies its own position.” Contradiction - “nothing is anything other than itself” is “nothing can occupy a places other than its own place” and Excluded Middle - “nothing can be both of two distinct things” or “nothing can be in two distinct places at the same time.” Identity is a very interesting topic.

 
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06 March 2019 19:37
 
burt - 06 March 2019 07:02 PM

The Law of Identity is the first of the three Aristotelian laws that underlie his logic. Identity, Contradiction, and Excluded Middle. For Aristotle his logic had metaphysical force, and the Law of Identity was an establishment of the possibility of identities in reality. It connects to Logos, which relates to the capacity of mind to recognize identities in collections (e.g., all cats are identified as cats rather than just a bunch of furry creatures) through grasping of the essential nature. Stripping away the metaphysical and going over to rules for categorical reasoning, the Law of Identity asserts that once terms in a discussion have been defined, this definition cannot be changed in the ensuing discussion. The three Aristotelian laws are geometrical/spatial in a sense: Identity- “a thing is equal to itself” is also the spatial statement “a thing occupies its own position.” Contradiction - “nothing is anything other than itself” is “nothing can occupy a places other than its own place” and Excluded Middle - “nothing can be both of two distinct things” or “nothing can be in two distinct places at the same time.” Identity is a very interesting topic.

Burt, you never cease to amaze me.

 
 
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07 March 2019 12:04
 
Cheshire Cat - 06 March 2019 07:37 PM
burt - 06 March 2019 07:02 PM

The Law of Identity is the first of the three Aristotelian laws that underlie his logic. Identity, Contradiction, and Excluded Middle. For Aristotle his logic had metaphysical force, and the Law of Identity was an establishment of the possibility of identities in reality. It connects to Logos, which relates to the capacity of mind to recognize identities in collections (e.g., all cats are identified as cats rather than just a bunch of furry creatures) through grasping of the essential nature. Stripping away the metaphysical and going over to rules for categorical reasoning, the Law of Identity asserts that once terms in a discussion have been defined, this definition cannot be changed in the ensuing discussion. The three Aristotelian laws are geometrical/spatial in a sense: Identity- “a thing is equal to itself” is also the spatial statement “a thing occupies its own position.” Contradiction - “nothing is anything other than itself” is “nothing can occupy a places other than its own place” and Excluded Middle - “nothing can be both of two distinct things” or “nothing can be in two distinct places at the same time.” Identity is a very interesting topic.

Burt, you never cease to amaze me.

He is a wealth of knowledge - a true resource.

 
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08 March 2019 06:16
 

Thank you, burt, for the eloquent explanation/definition.  Now what do we do?

 
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08 March 2019 08:03
 
Skipshot - 08 March 2019 06:16 AM

Thank you, burt, for the eloquent explanation/definition.  Now what do we do?

Find your identity?

 
icehorse
 
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10 March 2019 08:26
 

burt,

Does this also apply to ideas, or just physical objects? For example we could say that Calculus is a fairly stable collection of ideas. But after that, things seem to break down a bit. Because Calculus doesn’t have a location, and it exists simultaneously in many minds.

 
 
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10 March 2019 11:07
 
icehorse - 10 March 2019 08:26 AM

burt,

Does this also apply to ideas, or just physical objects? For example we could say that Calculus is a fairly stable collection of ideas. But after that, things seem to break down a bit. Because Calculus doesn’t have a location, and it exists simultaneously in many minds.

Interesting question. I’d say that to the extent that we can differentiate an idea and name it in a way that allows at least relatively unambiguous communication, it does apply. This seems to relate to the epistemological aspect (so getting out of having to think of what the ontological status of calculus might be), stabilizing how we can talk about ideas without confusion.

 
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11 March 2019 11:05
 
Speakpigeon - 06 March 2019 08:22 AM

This thread is about the Law of Identity: For all things, a thing is itself. . . . So, here is your chance to articulate eloquently what you think the Law of Identity really means to all of us.
EB

I can’t say what it really means to all of us, and I never gave it much thought before, but what it means to me is that for all things, a thing is itself and not some other thing—like the belief in that thing. A unicorn is a unicorn and not the belief in a unicorn. Wrongness is wrongness and not the belief in wrongness. Meaning is meaning and not the belief in meaning. Etc..

On a completely irrelevant note, I just now realized that you can enlarge this annoyingly tiny message box. A new feature? A feature of the new browser I recently started using? Probably it’s been that way all along but I never noticed.

 
 
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11 March 2019 11:09
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 11 March 2019 11:05 AM

. . . I just now realized that you can enlarge this annoyingly tiny message box. A new feature? A feature of the new browser I recently started using? Probably it’s been that way all along but I never noticed.

By typing more?

 
 
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11 March 2019 11:11
 
nonverbal - 11 March 2019 11:09 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 11 March 2019 11:05 AM

. . . I just now realized that you can enlarge this annoyingly tiny message box. A new feature? A feature of the new browser I recently started using? Probably it’s been that way all along but I never noticed.

By typing more?

No, that doesn’t happen on my browser. Drag the bottom right corner of the message box (those six little dots) down.

 
 
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11 March 2019 18:12
 
burt - 06 March 2019 07:02 PM
EN - 06 March 2019 06:28 PM

If a thing is not itself, what could it be?  The thing may be an illusion or a delusion, but then that is simply what it is - it is itself. There is nothing else for it to be but itself, so it is itself by process of elimination.  It cannot be “nothing”, because we are discussing it.  Even if it is only an idea, that is what it is and the law of identity is upheld.  It is itself by definition. 

I’ve never thought about or even heard about it until now, so my thoughts may seem naive. But, if that’s what they are, then that’s what they are… themselves.

The Law of Identity is the first of the three Aristotelian laws that underlie his logic. Identity, Contradiction, and Excluded Middle. For Aristotle his logic had metaphysical force, and the Law of Identity was an establishment of the possibility of identities in reality. It connects to Logos, which relates to the capacity of mind to recognize identities in collections (e.g., all cats are identified as cats rather than just a bunch of furry creatures) through grasping of the essential nature. Stripping away the metaphysical and going over to rules for categorical reasoning, the Law of Identity asserts that once terms in a discussion have been defined, this definition cannot be changed in the ensuing discussion. The three Aristotelian laws are geometrical/spatial in a sense: Identity- “a thing is equal to itself” is also the spatial statement “a thing occupies its own position.” Contradiction - “nothing is anything other than itself” is “nothing can occupy a places other than its own place” and Excluded Middle - “nothing can be both of two distinct things” or “nothing can be in two distinct places at the same time.” Identity is a very interesting topic.

Can it not also relate to your application of Buddhist reasoning to the realm of consciousness - this but not that, I think was the formula.  It can be akin to a process of elimination.

 
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11 March 2019 18:23
 
EN - 11 March 2019 06:12 PM
burt - 06 March 2019 07:02 PM
EN - 06 March 2019 06:28 PM

If a thing is not itself, what could it be?  The thing may be an illusion or a delusion, but then that is simply what it is - it is itself. There is nothing else for it to be but itself, so it is itself by process of elimination.  It cannot be “nothing”, because we are discussing it.  Even if it is only an idea, that is what it is and the law of identity is upheld.  It is itself by definition. 

I’ve never thought about or even heard about it until now, so my thoughts may seem naive. But, if that’s what they are, then that’s what they are… themselves.

The Law of Identity is the first of the three Aristotelian laws that underlie his logic. Identity, Contradiction, and Excluded Middle. For Aristotle his logic had metaphysical force, and the Law of Identity was an establishment of the possibility of identities in reality. It connects to Logos, which relates to the capacity of mind to recognize identities in collections (e.g., all cats are identified as cats rather than just a bunch of furry creatures) through grasping of the essential nature. Stripping away the metaphysical and going over to rules for categorical reasoning, the Law of Identity asserts that once terms in a discussion have been defined, this definition cannot be changed in the ensuing discussion. The three Aristotelian laws are geometrical/spatial in a sense: Identity- “a thing is equal to itself” is also the spatial statement “a thing occupies its own position.” Contradiction - “nothing is anything other than itself” is “nothing can occupy a places other than its own place” and Excluded Middle - “nothing can be both of two distinct things” or “nothing can be in two distinct places at the same time.” Identity is a very interesting topic.

Can it not also relate to your application of Buddhist reasoning to the realm of consciousness - this but not that, I think was the formula.  It can be akin to a process of elimination.

I don’t know if we’re talking about the same formula. The one that comes to mind is called nyte nyte (not that, not that) which is applied to personal identity.