What's so bad...

about a contradiction? I am serious.

It is impossible, hence lacking in existence, even potential existence. That is the worst kind of bad you can be.

Really though, we wouldn’t say that a contradiction is “bad”, it is nothing at all. There is no “it” for “it” to be bad.

First rule of philosophy, the law of non-contradiction. A thing cannot both be and not be at the same time and in the same respect. The lights in this room cannot both be on and not on at the same time. You cannot both be sitting in the chair in your living room and sitting in a chair in another house at the same time. It’s just reality, that’s all. It’s “bad,” as you put it, because an evil is a lack of a due perfection, and so a contradiction is a lack of perfection in how we speak of reality. Truth is simply when the mind lines up with reality, so a contradiction, you might say, obscures that “lining up.”


But don’t get too tied down with worldly “reality”. :slight_smile:

St. Padre Pio might very well be able to sit in that chair in your living room and in another house at the very same time. Bilocation is one of his specialties…

From the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia:

"II. That bilocation (multilocation) is physically impossible, that is, contrary to all the conditions of matter at present known to us, is the practically unanimous teaching of Catholic philosophers in accordance with universal experience and natural science. As to the absolute or metaphysical impossibility, that is, whether bilocation involves an intrinsic contradiction, so that by no exertion even of Omnipotence could the same body be at once in wholly different places — to this question the foregoing distinctions are pertinent.

*]Catholic philosophers maintain that there is no absolute impossibility in the same body being at once circumscriptively in one place and definitively elsewhere (mixed mode of location). The basis of this opinion is that local extension is not essential to material substance. The latter is and remains what it is wheresoever located. Local extension is consequent on a naturally universal, but still not essentially necessary, property of material substance. It is the immediate resultant of the “quantity” inherent in a body’s material composition and consists in a contactual relation of the body with the circumambient surfaces. Being a resultant or quasi effect of quantity it may be suspended in its actualization; at least such suspension involves no absolute impossibility and may therefore be effected by Omnipotent agency. Should, therefore, God choose to deprive a body of its extensional relation to its place and thus, so to speak, delocalize the material substance, the latter would be quasi spiritualized and would thus, besides its natural circumscriptive location, be capable of receiving definitive and consequently multiple location; for in this case the obstacle to bilocation, viz., actual local extension, would have been removed. Replication does not involve multiplication of the body’s substance but only the multiplication of its local relations to other bodies. The existence of its substance in one place is contradicted only by non-existence in that same place, but says nothing per se about existence or non-existence elsewhere.

God Bless.

In a psychological sense, most of the time there is no such thing as contradiction, you just interpreted it that way.

What do you mean?

As for my question, I think I tried to do too much. I am trying to make two philosophical points.

The first is: how do you know that when you see something that *prima facie * looks like a contradiction that it actually is one?

The second: What would a ‘reason’ look like that speaks against contradiction? I.e. it seems like it is something for which there need be no reason. Though where we got the idea from that a contradiction is impossible is beyond me.

I don’t see how this is getting “tied up in worldly ‘reality,’” as the paragraph you cite actually tells why bilocation does not violate the law of non-contradiction and how Catholic philosophers explain it in light of the same.


I think what your quote touches upon here is that a contradiction is “X is Y and not Y at the same time, place, etc.” Bilocation or the multiplicity of the Eucharist does not fail that test. They are not contradictions. :o


One needs to have a basic understanding of the contradictions in order to be able to dialogue reasonably on any philosophy forum.

And, one needs to be able to understand that the both/and paradigm is not a violation of the principle of non-contradiction.

That is, some things can both be true: Jesus is fully man; Jesus is fully God. Both statements may be true.

While some things cannot both be true: Jesus is fully man; Jesus is NOT fully man. Both statements cannot be true.

A contradiction destroys logic. Given a contradiction, it is possible to logically prove any statement at all, no matter how silly.

For example, let’s set up a contradiction:

B: “blessedrosary is male”
~B: “blessedrosay is not male.”

Now a silly statement to prove:

P: “The Pope is a penguin in disguise.”

Now, given B, ~B and the laws of logic, I can prove that P is true.

This is a proof by contradiction, we show that ~P, “the Pope is not a penguin in disguise” is false.

Start with a logical implication:

~P => B

B is true, so the overall implication is true, no matter what the value of ~P.

Now reverse the implication, using the standard rules of logic:

~B => P

This is still true, since it is correctly derived from a true statement.

Now we can use the contradiction, since we know that ~B is also true.

(~B AND (~B => P)) => P

If ~B, and “~B implies P”, then P must be true.

Hence we have logically proved that the Pope is a penguin in disguise. Alternatively, we have merely asserted a contradiction, and our argument is worthless.

A contradiction destroys logic, by making it possible to prove any and all statements, whether those statements are actually true or false. The contradiction removes the logical distinction between truth and falsehood, which is why it can be dangerous. I could prove that everyone on CAF owes me $1,000 for instance. :slight_smile:


Or you could just use the axiom schema (False |-- phi), for any sentence phi, (or equivalently |-- false>phi).

But I am skeptical about the argument that a contradiction ‘proves’ everything. Or maybe it does prove everything, but then I’m skeptical that there’s any force to the ‘proves’ if you admit a contradiction. For example, suppose I admit a contradiction but yet reject your argument (or the one I gave above) that a contradiction proves everything. The worst you could accuse me of is inconsistency. Since I am admitting a contradiction, I’ll gladly take your accusation. In other words, you can admit a contradiction logically without thereby admitting everything. :slight_smile:

This is me…


in response to the above.

I think you may think of contradiction as being the same as a paradox.

A contradiction is saying that a thing is “A” and “Non-A” is the same sense.

A Paradox is saying that a thing is “A” in one sense, and “Non-A” in another sense. This is not a contradiction, because it is saying that can be two different things in a different sense.


Jesus Christ is fully God and fully Man. This is not a contradiction, but a paradox. As man, He grew in wisdom. As God, He was all-knowing, and did not need to grow in wisdom. As man, He was limited in time and space. As God, He was infinite. This is a paradox - a mystery. But it is not a contradictory. In one sense, Jesus was limited (as a man). In another sense, He was limitless (as God).

But this is different than a contradiction. A contradiction is not a mystery, but an absurdity. It is saying that it absolutely true that that there is no absolute truth. It is the existence of a square circle. It is uttering the sentence “I cannot utter a word in English”.

A paradox, or a mystery, is incomprehensible. But a contradiction is just plain illogical.

Fine, but whatever you call it my question is ‘what account can you give that distinguishes then when you look at them?’, for which I have yet to receive an answer.

Obviously I am not trying to say there is no truth.

Maybe I am not understanding your question. There seems to be a clear account already given. Here it is:

(A and not-A) is always false.

(A in a certain sense and not-A in a different sense) is not always false, although it can be.

Yeah I guess not; admittedly it’s pretty tricky. Problems in philosophy are simpler but also subtler than grandiose metaphysicians would have us think.

Your reply is right, I don’t disagree with it. But it completely misses the point of what I want to draw your attention to, which is the following: the aspects of a thing that you’re able to examine and understand may be limited and in fact strictly less than the aspects it has. In other words, you could be “aspect blind” (say like color blind). It’s a nice thing to notice because often times the depth of an object we don’t understand until we 1. become well acquainted with the object itself AND 2. are comfortable with and have acquired some level of expertise of the context that object is used or experienced or understood in. Mathematics provides a good example; music another one. My question is: you’ve looked at how a thing looks (e.g. a proposition) and determined that it’s a contradiction. Many times in philosophy we do away with a supposed contradiction by showing we can look at the matter in a different way, which different way of looking at it usually opens us up to a greater depth of understanding the thing. How do you know that how you’re looking at a thing now is the exhaustive way to be looking at it in order to judge that it actually is a contradiction? (As opposed e.g. to the possibility that you’re just aspect blind- blind in the very aspect that would dispel the contradiction?) Note that aspect-blindness need not be permanent; it may be easily eradicable by something like education.

It seems to me obvious that on account of our limited knowledge of reality and our limited capacity to penetrate into it that you can’t say anything apriori about the question I ask. I, at any rate, want to hold a healthy hesitation in making any bold claims about the scope of our thinking capacity to draw truth out of inferences. Some people misinterpret this to be an attack on reason. It’s obviously not; rather it’s an attack on how people popularly think of it.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.