Paradoxes of Sameness

For two things to be said to be the same, they have to be different, or there wouldn’t be two things to be said to be the same.

Even if we refer to things that seemingly are the same in two different ways, for example equilateral triangles and equiangular triangles, and say “equiangular triangles are the same as equilateral triangles” there must be a difference that can be referred to, because someone could know of a triangle that it is equilateral and not that it is equiangular for instance, and therefore one triangle has the property “known to be eqilateral” and the other the property “not known to be equilateral”.

If we say that two things are actually different though they must in some sense be the same. So for example Heracleitus says we cannot step in the same river twice. But he is able to identify something as a river in order to say of it that it is different from moment to moment. It’s different from talking about a shoe one moment and a river the next.

So it’s a problem!


5 thoughts on “Paradoxes of Sameness

  1. What about light from the perspective of Quantum Mechanics? It operates as both a wave and a particle until there exists an observer and it seems as if the observer is the one making the distinction.

  2. Wow, I didn’t know that. Interesting. In a sense, we all follow Kierkegaard whether we know it or not. There are quite a few “leaps of faith” that we take on a regular basis. If I had to be certain that getting out of bed wouldn’t kill me, I would be covered in bed sores.

    With respect to your post, even logic is a kind of agreement among similarly situated brain-types who perceive of things logically. My dog, for instance, could care less for such a distinction of sameness or difference. He imagines his bed as both a soft place to sleep as well as a large hunk of rawhide. He’s more of a Heidegger-ian (since my wife and daughters are both Jewish, I’m keeping an eye on him). Anyway, logic, too, seems to require a significant leap of faith that we humans possess true perception in the first place. And the hits just keep on spinning.

  3. The sentence needs to be extended to include more description of the sameness. Two forks from the same manufacturer could be said to be the same — if they are of the same design (a dinner fork = a dinner fork) but a dinner fork is NOT the same as a salad fork. A dye lot of bolts of fabric might be the same color — but another dye lot of the same fabric could be very different!

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