Thursday, September 15, 2005

Meaning and the necessity of the law of non-contradiction

That brings us to the definition of truth. Since we all know what a lie is, we also know what truth is. Truth is just the opposite of a lie. When we say that something is true, we mean that it actually corresponds to reality—the way the world really is. If I say my sister is pregnant, and she actually is pregnant, then I’ve told the truth.

[I wrote another blog about truth here.]

The reason I’m bringing this out is because it has a direct bearing on our reading of Nietzsche. I said before that unless we apply logic to our reading of Nietzsche, we might as well read his books backwards because without logic, none of it will make any sense. Whatever Nietzsche says, we must assume that he means something by it, and not its opposite. Without the law of non-contradiction, we have no way to make a distinction between what Nietzsche is saying and what he is not saying. It would be pointless for us to ask Steve to explain to us what Nietzsche means by something because whatever Steve tells us, we could also assume that it’s opposite is also the case. Just as it would be meaningless to you for me to say, “My sister is both pregnant and not pregnant,” so also would it be meaningless for us to read Nietzsche without the law of non-contradiction.

[The whole reason I went into this part about Nietzsche was because I had been criticizing Nietzsche for being illogical, and my philosophy teacher kept saying it was inappropriate for me to apply logic to Nietzsche.

I guess the whole point I'm making here is the same as I mentioned before--that significant speech is not possible without the law of non-contradiction. So nothing Nietzsche says can have any meaning unless we apply logic to it.]

Next: The law of excluded middle and self-refutation


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