Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Positives in Conflict

Yesterday I gave “Good and Evil” as an example of two binary categories. And the way I defined binary categories was, “for any given criteria, all things in the universe will either fulfill or not fulfill the given criteria. Either/or. There is a binary value assigned to everything in the universe with regard to that criteria.” It could be objected that even if my account of binary categories holds of the world, Good and Evil would not be an example of such binary categories. It could be said that in the case of Good and Evil we have an example of Positives in Competition.

Suppose a man said that there was Good and he defined Good as “actions that proceed from the will to the greatest pleasure for the greatest number.” According to my account of binary categories, that means that everything that is not an action that proceed from a will to utilitarian happiness is evil. The man would probably disagree, he would say, “no, those things just aren't good.” And after all, if Good is the Positive category, the Negative would be “non-Good.” We could use the word “Evil,” but that would not follow human convention.

According to the way we usually use the word “Evil,” it has its own set of criteria. Maybe you define it as treating people as means and not as ends, or maybe you define it as intentionally neglecting one's duty in life. Either way, it has its own criteria. It does not depend on the criteria for a Positive category, it is itself a positive category.

In this case, if you say “Good is This” and you say “Evil is Thus” you have two Positives and these two Positive categories do not capture the entirety of the world. “Good is This” and “non-Good is non-This” on the other hand do capture the entirety of the world.

There is no confusion about most Positives. No one thinks that “True” and “Delicious” are in conflict, for example. But sometimes two Positives will come into conflict and cause people to suppose that they represent opposite sides of a pair of Binary Categories, like Love and Hate which actually have much in common with each other rather than being a pair of Binary Categories.

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