Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Power of Counterpositive Thinging

But what good is it, what does it do, this counterpositive? It invokes a way of getting free from (Meinongian?) tangles. To take the canonical example of ‘a cloth’ and ‘a pot’. A cloth is a cloth and a pot is a pot. A cloth is not a pot. Well yes but what does that mean? Does it imply that we scan the pot looking for ghostly essences of cloth and not finding them assert that a cloth is not a pot. The counterpositive theory asserts that the absence of cloth as a pot indicates that ‘clothness’ exists in its own substratum of cloth elsewhere. There is no presence of even a faint trace of cloth in a pot.

Says Swami Madhavananda in his note on this topic in Vedanta Paribhasa:
When we say, “A cloth does not exist as a jar”,that whose existence is denied is the cloth, which is therefore the counterpositive of this negation. A jar, is, a different substratum from the cloth. The property of that, viz., jarhood, is the distinguishing characteristic of the counterpositveness of this negative.

It would be interesting to consider the points of congruence between ‘substratum’ and Aristotelian ‘substance’.

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