Law of Identity (A is A) is Contradictory
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We hear this claim all the time:
“The Law of Identity A=A (A is A) is self-evident. Each thing is the same as itself. There is no way around it. All of existence depends on it. Without it, you wouldn’t exist, wouldn’t be able to think, wouldn’t be able to talk intelligibly, wouldn’t be able to blah blah.....”
Only the ignorant armchair philosophers will spew such nonsense because they don’t understand the underlying critical issues. Both theists and atheists alike have ascribed super magical powers to this alleged axiom and made it even more powerful than God. They claim that reality depends on the alleged ‘Law of Identity’ to function, and countless of other absurdities.
The Pedant, the Priest and the Politician have always been the most expert of logicians and the most diligent disseminators of nonsense. To obfuscate the issues and confuse their audience, they usually predicate their arguments on the Law of Identity (i.e. rhetoric). Matt Slick, Ayn Rand and the online Atheist-Theist community are prime examples. Despite the fact that Ayn Rand’s epistemology and philosophy were wholly founded on the Law of Identity, her present-day followers are still oblivious to her underlying rhetoric, contradictions and the irrationality of her proposals.
THE LAW OF IDENTITY VIOLATES RUDIMENTARY LINGUISTICS
To say that “A is A” means that each thing is the same as itself is utterly meaningless. Repetition is rhetoric and it doesn’t offer any new information other than what we already have before us: the label ‘A’ which refers to some object. To say that “the referent object is itself”; offers no meaning whatsoever. Therefore using the Law of Identity as a basis for an argument would instantly render it circular (rhetorical).
But is this really a law? Who was it that decreed himself so authoritative as to usurp the reins of reality and so boldly claim that self-referential Identity (A is A) is actually a law governing reality? As you will discover in the following sections, laws are created by human apes for the purposes of validating their opinions to themselves and forcing them unto others through various strong-arm tactics. Such rituals are the hallmark of Religion and divorced from reality altogether.
The Sophists readily employed such authoritative circular tactics over 2500 years ago to deceptively win every argument under the Sun. Apparently the Sophists of today think they can continue with these rich customs and compel you to adhere to their tradition and authority. I apologize in advance for raining on their parade and destroying their Religion of Identity along with their self-serving agenda.
IT’S AMBIGUOUS & CONTRADICTORY TO RELATE ANYTHING TO ITSELF
Whenever the armchair philosopher unwittingly uses the “A is A” Identity rhetoric to push his argument, he is guaranteed to put his foot in his mouth. Any attempt to relate an object to itself for the purposes of reaching the breathtaking conclusion that the object is actually itself…is beyond ignorance!
Because it is impossible to relate anything to itself.
But hold on a sec….Wikipedia claims:
“In its symbolic representation: (“A is A”), the first element of the proposition (identity statement) represents the subject (thing) and the second element, the predicate (its essence), with the copula “is” signifying the RELATION of identity.” - Wiki
There….I mean, you heard it from the horse’s mouth….you can’t argue with that, right?
Not so fast. Remember, the copula (i.e. ‘is’) is used to link the ‘subject’ of a sentence with its ‘predicate’. Either ‘A’ represents the SUBJECT or the PREDICATE; i.e., an OBJECT or a CONCEPT, respectively. It can’t be both, as that ambiguous duality would commit the Fallacy of Equivocation as well as a contradiction. You cannot compare an ‘object’ with a ‘concept’. Comparisons can only be made between objects or between concepts.
Man can invent whatever dualities he pleases for the purposes of validating his opinions to himself and his followers. Reality couldn’t care less about such opinionated human rituals. In reality, the term ‘A’ either:
a) represents the subject under discussion, which resolves to an object, or
b) it represents the predicate, which resolves to a property of an object.
It can’t be both!
The predicate of ‘A’ is necessarily a property of ‘A’, and not an object in and of itself. So you can’t have it both ways like they do in Religion. The property of an object can never be the actual object itself. All properties are conceptual relations between objects; i.e. properties are concepts!
Obviously, the poor fellow who wrote that Wikipedia entry doesn’t have the slightest clue of basic Linguistics and Concept Ontology.
SELF-REFERENTIAL IDENTITY IS CONTRADICTORY - NOT A RELATION!
By definition, to relate something means to invoke at least two objects in a comparison: your test object ‘A’ and another object ‘B’. It’s unavoidable. You cannot compare a lone object to itself for the purposes of reaching any conclusion; much less that the object is itself. What we have before us is an object, but you really haven’t compared it to anything. You’ve only PRETENDED to do so - a sleight of hand trick that may convince the unsuspecting members of the audience, but not the critical thinkers among them. Such circular ritualistic fallacies belong in Religion. Reality will have none of it. Any attempt to relate a thing to itself contradicts the fundamental ontology of human conception. In other words: it’s meaningless!
Any concept you can conceive of necessarily relates a minimum of two objects. Not even God can conceive of an allegedly absolute concept without first attempting to establish a relation with at least two distinct objects, at which point, He contradicts the notion of ‘absoluteness’. Try to conceive of anything standalone which doesn’t invoke at least two other things in a relation. See if you can do what the Almighty cannot even hope to accomplish. You will quickly realize that it is an exercise in futility.
If you don’t understand what a concept is you’ll be chasing your tail in circles; forever trying to justify some sort of meaning for this alleged self-referential Law of Identity (A is A); a circular and contradictory concept. All concepts are relations. It’s inescapable.
Concept: a relation between two or more objects.
AS A CONCEPT, IDENTITY RELATES AT LEAST 2 OBJECTS
Since self-referential ‘Identity’ is circular and contradictory, it has no meaning whatsoever because it’s not even a rational concept. All concepts are defined by the relations they establish. This is what gives meaning to all terms in language. Self-referential Identity, on the other hand, is an alleged concept devoid of relations. In other words, it’s an oxymoron, like a married bachelor. Who is the married bachelor married to, himself?
If humans are going to talk rationally for the purposes of making sense and understanding each other, their linguistic terms must be rational. All rational concepts of Identity necessarily relate the test object with other objects in order to establish the object’s unique identity among other identities. This is how government identification cards function, as well as all other identities we establish in any discipline. It’s impossible to provide an example of an identity which doesn’t relate other objects in establishing its uniqueness.
The bottom line is this: all concepts relate objects whether you like it or not, no matter how much it hurts your argument.
Sure, the armchair philosopher can claim all he wants that he is “relating” object ‘A’ to itself by proudly uttering “A is A”. But upon close scrutiny we unveil that he is not only lying to us, but that he hasn’t the slightest clue of what he is talking about. He is claiming to utilize an allegedly self-referential concept called ‘The Law of Identity’ (which should invoke a minimum of two objects) for the purposes of relating a SINGLE object. Epic failure on his part! He needs to take an introductory course in Linguistics and Critical Thinking.
There is only one concept of ‘identity’ and it’s not a “law”, no matter what the irrational folk assert. As a linguistic term, ‘identity’ is an unambiguous and non-contradictory concept. As a concept, it relates at least two objects for the purposes of establishing the contextual uniqueness for the object in question.
ARISTOTLE DID NOT DECREE A “LAW” OF IDENTITY
Many folks, especially Ayn Rand’s Objectivists, will erroneously attribute this alleged “law” to Aristotle who never referenced his terminology of “a thing is itself” (Metaphysics,Book VII, Part 17) as a “law”, much less as “A is A”. So who decreed this self-referential figure of speech as an authoritative law? We will probably never know exactly who, but humans are known to take ideas and restate them in light of their particular agenda. Let’s not also forget that the philosophy and interpretations stemming from Christian Apologetics have certainly pushed forward the notion of the Law of Identity for many centuries, as shown in these two examples:
1. It’s possible that the principle of Identity was first referenced as a “law” by Antonius Andreas (1280-1320), who claimed that "Every Being is a Being", should be enacted as an absolute law of sorts. He wanted the Law of Identity to be accepted as an absolute first before the Law Contradiction. He gave no justification to his claims; and that’s perhaps why most scholars rejected it as an absolute law.
“the Law of Identity, as far as I can tell, was not specifically formulated as such until the medieval era. Sir William Hamilton, who is ordinarily encyclopedic in such matters, was unable to find such a formulation of it until Antonius Andreas, at the end of the thirteenth century. (Cf. his Lectures on Metaphysics and Logic, ed. Henry Mansel & J. Veitch [2 vols., Boston, Gould & Lincoln, 1859], II, 65.)” - Sylvan Leonard Peikoff
2. Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716) took this a step further by claiming that the Law of Identity, which he expressed as “Everything is what it is”, should be the first primitive truth of reason. And yet he offered no reasoning to justify this alleged truth of reason. How ironic. Wilhelm Wundt credited Leibniz with the symbolic formulation we know as "A is A". It was Leibniz who popularized this mostly unaccepted principle of Identity as an absolute law.
But much to the dismay of Atheists, Theists, Objectivists and Sophists alike, those who push self-referential Identity as an absolute “law” cannot even begin to justify their contradictory assertion. All they can muster is to dogmatically decree it as an authoritative law. In other words: nobody has the right to even question this protected holy grail of unjustified true wisdom!
The supposed Law of Identity (A is A) is not even a law, much less a genuine concept that can be justified by anyone. It is nothing more than an irrational assertion that violates not only fundamental Linguistics and Conceptual Ontology, but is circular and contradictory to boot. It has no place in any argument, much less in Formal Systems of Logic or in arguments concerning reality. I challenge anyone to post a single argument concerning reality which can be justified using this alleged Law of Identity. Anyone?