Tag Archives: nature of meaning

The Law of Identity

How much faith do we place in the laws of logic when parsing through our perceptions of the world?  One of the foundational laws of logic is “The Law of Identity.”  This states, quite simply, that A = A.  In other words, a thing is what it is.  But is it?


Is the box on the left the same as the box on the right?  In a sense, yes, they are exact duplicates. But what is the role of cognition in determining equivalency? Is an appearance understood one way different than an appearance understood another way?

Let me look at the same question in a different context. Is it true that a keyboard in my office is the same as an identical keyboard beside it? As observed at a human spatial scale, the answer seems to be very clearly ‘yes.’  But what about sub-atomically? With the perpetual motion, interaction and indeterminacy of sub-atomic particles, it would seem the answer is quite clearly ‘no.’ The same paradox applies to a single keyboard when compared to itself from one moment to the next. Are they the same? Conditionally, yes. Are the different? Conditionally, yes.

Now back to the boxes.

Is this visual representation something “objective”? Do these boxes “exist” independent of an observer’s understanding? The transparent line boxes above are exact copies of each other, but if I think of them in the manner below (using grey to represent the “front” face of the box), a single image can be understood in different ways. The boxes below illustrate how the same box can be seen in different ways (using the 3-D representation below with the clear boxes above). Are the boxes the same if I understand them as different?

identity-2sidedWhat do you think? Are the boxes equivalent? Does A = A regardless of what “A” means to me?


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