Logic: Or, the Morphology of Knowledge - Vol. 1

By Bernard Bosanquet | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII.
NEGATION, OPPOSITION, AND CONVERSION.

1. THE Negative Judgment presents at first sight a paradoxical aspect. We are bound to take it, qua judgment, as playing some part in knowledge, and as at any rate capable of contributing some factor to the ideal fabric of reality. But it assumes the external shape of ignorance, or at least of failure, and the paradox consists in this--that in negation the work of positive knowledge appears to be performed by ignorance. The contradiction arises, as we have seen other contradictions arise, from the adoption by thought of a shape which at best expresses it but partially, and the retention of that shape when the aspect which it did express has come to be dwarfed by other aspects of knowledge. But of course the shape could neither be adopted nor retained did it not in some prominent aspect coincide with the requirements even of developed thought. Here then, as elsewhere, the key to our problem must be looked for in the conception of the individual mind working out its participation in reality by help of forms never wholly alien to this aim, but profoundly transmuted in proportion as it is attained.

Negation and Affirmation.

Negation is at first sight merely negative. It appears to say nothing, but only to deny, i. e. to put away some ideal content as other than reality or to express our inability to recognise it as belonging to reality. The first step then towards ascertaining its import is to ask, what does it deny or pronounce unreal? what does it presuppose to be present before denial is possible?

It certainly does not presuppose an affirmation. Both fact and theory protest against such a view. We have not always judged a matter to be true before we deny it. And

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