Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Primacy of Identity

It is an incontrovertible truth that A is A. Things are what they are. Everything else that exists must possess self-sameness.

This, the law of identity, is the most basic axiom. An axiom is a self-evident truth; (i.e., it proves itself). Axioms are also sometimes referred to as necessary truths because it is rationally inconceivable that they could be false.

In addition to being the first principle of reason and foundation of knowledge, the law of identity is a description of something that exists; it describes self-sameness. Since all A is A, all other things that exist are, in principle, reducible, (i.e., can be subdivided down) to identity and identity is a prerequisite for the existence of all else; (i.e., it is the first cause). Identity is the only primary thing; it is the only given. This thesis is referred to as the primacy of identity.

There are an incalculable number of necessary truths, but there is only one basic axiom, the law of identity. Many commonsense assumptions are thought to be necessary truths but may, in fact, not be true at all. The failure to distinguish between self-evident truth and commonsense assumptions has contributed to the erosion of man’s intellectual confidence while, conversely; his world view has become more sophisticated. The axiom is not an assumption; but when widely held commonsense assumptions turn out to be false, as they often have, the axiom is seen to have fallen.

Self-evidence declares identity. Any axiom, if indeed it is a true axiom, is such because it asserts self-sameness. This is the monistic view of axioms. The law of non-contradiction simply states the law of identity in the negative. It states that there can be no non-identity. A contradiction is the assertion of non-identity. The most basic example of a contradiction may be expressed as A is not A. It is by no means trivial to point out that this is also a most basic example of a lie. It is, therefore, poetic irony when the critics of non-contradiction fall back on a childish puzzle fittingly called the liar's paradox.

Objectivity is rooted in the fact that the axiom is the most supreme law of existence. The first principle can provide us with a simple provable concept of objective reality. The objectivity of reality simply means that things, primarily, are what they are. Things may or may not concur with what one thinks they are and things certainly do not always agree with what one hopes they are, but always, things are what they are. Even the existence of subjectivity is objective. One's thoughts, hopes, or prejudices, while they may not represent the exercise of objective reasoning, are part of reality and possess identity. Whatever affect they may have on other parts of reality, the existence of subjectivity and its effects can only be so because they concur with the primary objective fact; A is A.

The law of identity is the most basic premise of reason. It is this modest unassuming but certain truth that elevates man's notions about the world to the lofty status of knowledge, ( i.e., truth held with justifiable certainty). All our knowledge, even first hand perceptions, is ultimately validated by this first principle. The profound importance of the axiom’s relationship to knowledge is stated in metaphoric eloquence with the expression: ‘the "buck" stops here.' In order to supply an unwavering foundation for knowledge, or even justified opinion, the axiom must be uncompromisingly acknowledged as an all-inclusive immutable absolute. The ultimate implication of just one adulterous fling with absurdity is the abdication of any legitimate claim to knowledge. Even the concept of truth itself is obliterated when the identity principle is betrayed. If one imagined a fantasy domain of non-identity, logic and mathematics would be nothing but mind games with completely arbitrary rules, but also, seeing would by no means justify believing. When embracing the delusion of embellished contradictions, often peddled as limitless possibilities, one possibility that must be surrendered is knowledge.

The foundation of man's greatest achievements and the accomplishments of Western culture is the first principle and identity philosophy, (i.e., philosophy which acknowledges the axiom as absolute truth and profoundly important). Without this foundation, man's potential is limited. It is no coincidence that one directly proceeds the other in history. Apparently, explicit identity philosophy emerged from implicit commonsense that was temporarily liberated from religious superstition. The most influential proponent of identity philosophy was, of course, Aristotle. Regardless of the fact that the influence of identity philosophy has been relatively brief and latent weighed against the domination of mysticism, (i.e., the embracing of contradictions), its effects have been profound. From identity philosophy sprang forth the creation and exercise of logic, mathematics, scientific method, technology and the ideology of freedom.

Will the loftiness of such achievement make it less likely that we are willing to return to the existence of the primitive, the brute and the mystic, even if it means casting aside cherished vices? Or similar to a building that lacks a sound foundation, does the very heights of our achievement make the structure all the more precarious? Where will the "buck" stop when the theoretical promissory notes of reason must "float" against the currencies of irrationality, the most base of human emotions, in the blood drenched financial market of history? It is, forebodingly, those same figures, the primitive, the brute and the mystic, that are now idealized by the most conforming, feeble minded and self loathing among our youth. If what remains of identity philosophy is lost, the grand structure of this culture will collapse because the rational beings it was constructed by and for will be gone.

It is with the reminiscence of class hatred that the enemies of reason speak of the immutable status of the axiom. They have boasted that they would literally strike the word "identity" from the English language. It appears they may be succeeding. But it is a word that refers to a law and concept that is desperately needed if reason and freedom are to prevail. Identity philosophy is the only true premise of reason and reason is the only sound basis for the advocacy of a free society. It is because man is a rational being and reason is competent and potent that a free society is appropriate for man. Reason does not function in an atmosphere of force and coercion. If man’s claim to knowledge falls, however, so to does his claim to freedom.

Just as a society that rejects a legitimate concept of rights finds itself choosing between the tyranny of statism and law of the jungle anarchy, the mind that lacks a comprehension of necessary truth must choose between baseless intellectual bigotry, (i.e., dogmatism) and the chaos of perpetual uncertainty, (i.e., nihilism).

In both political and intellectual realms we can now witness the peculiar and sickening spectacle of each of these dismal choices coming to play in the defense of the others. In these four expressions of irrationality there are parallels to be encountered. Statism contrives arbitrary laws of society to suppress man’s actions; dogmatism manufactures arbitrary laws of nature to stifle man’s mind. The anarchist fails to distinguish between a slave-state ruled by a tyrant and a nation governed impartially by a bill of rights. The nihilist acknowledges no difference between contradictory notions accepted by blind faith and consistent convictions confidently held because they are supported by evidence. Dogmatic nihilism, the notion that the impossibility of knowledge can be proven, is the saddest example of intellectual hypocrisy, but it exemplifies the fact that dogmatism and nihilism are partners in absurdity. Both fail to recognize the identity principle as the only justifiable foundation for knowledge just as totalitarianism and anarchy fail to acknowledge the principle of rights as a prerequisite for the beneficial and prosperous interaction of rational beings. Freedom requires more than finding the middle ground between totalitarianism and anarchy; knowledge is not unearthed in a balance between dogmatism and nihilism. While the political and intellectual pendulums may swing between these extremes, they are all groundless and, therefore, all the points in the hypothetical continuums between them are also groundless. The results of such grim shallow alternatives can only lead to social and intellectual impotence.

The law of identity, and the axioms that mirror this first principle, are the true source of our "empowerment."


Today with ambiguous "logic" serving as blinders, abstinence from serious metaphysical inquiry is practiced with religious commitment. At a time when most of what is regarded as philosophy consists of a cynical critique of the conceptual faculty and trivial examination of "language" detached from reality, it is necessary to point out very explicitly that the primacy of identity is an idea that pertains to metaphysics.

Epistemologically speaking, existence, not identity, comes first in the formation of concepts; (i.e., "a thing" comes before "a thing is itself"). But this epistemological fact is not a valid argument against the primacy of identity. Such a contention is the equivalent of deciding that since we are aware that we can see before we are aware that we have eyes, then the reason we have eyes is because we can see.

The order of our awareness is not germane to the fact that we can see because we have eyes and neither is this order relevant to the primacy of identity.

Only a corrupt mind that is divorced from reason will fail to acknowledge that the law of identity must be universally true and all embracing, (i.e., all A is A). This fact is not a meaningless truth. Among the historical tragedies of philosophy is the failure to recognize that meaningless truth, (i.e., truth with no reference to reality) is a contradiction. Perceptions and ideas are true in the respect that they are in agreement with the parts of reality to which they refer. Meaning, (i.e., reference to reality) is a prerequisite for truth. The notion that the axiom, A is A, does not state anything about A is false. It does not assert anything about A that distinguishes it from anything else, because what it declares of A is true of all things. The identity principle asserts identity; self-sameness is what the axiom refers to in reality.

Once the contradiction of meaningless truth is exposed and dispensed with, it becomes clear that the identity principle proves the existence of identity. The fact of identity’s existence is the fact that hinges reason to reality. The result of not acknowledging this fact is the detachment of logical truth from reality and rendering reason mute without ever having to deny its "truth." This is mysticism’s most devious and corrupting achievement.

The identist concept of identity, however, differs from the conventional meaning.

According to the classical interpretation, A is the identity of A. A thing's identity is all of those things which constitute its objective reality. According to this view, the concepts existence and identity are synonymous. Existence and identity, however, are not synonymous. Existence refers to the totality of everything. Identity refers to the most basic part of this totality, but other things exist besides identity.

In the identists view A is the existence of A, but its identity is that basic part of its existence described by the law of identity, i.e., described by the statement A is A. This idea holds simply that identity is an existent thing, that the law of identity describes the most basic thing that exists.

Newton's law of gravity is a description of something that exists; it describes gravity. Whether it is warped space, gravitons, or something else, his law, nonetheless, refers to something that exists, and so to does the law of identity. But while Newton's theory may be a flawed description of something that is complex and conditional, the law of identity is a perfect description of something which is absolutely simple and unconditional.

The axiom, A is A, does not describe and prove A. It describes and proves identity. It is undeniably true that unicorns are unicorns; but yet, there are no unicorns. The statement, nevertheless, is in some way in agreement with reality, it tells us something about the world; (i.e., it describes and proves the existence of self-sameness).

It has been suggested that holding identity as part of existence is seeing identity much as a coat of paint applied over a house. This is not a good analogy at all for the primacy of identity. Identity is not afterthought. It is not a product of the things that possess it. The things that possess it are ultimately a product of identity.

Referring back to the house, a better analogy would be to compare identity to the atoms that comprise the house. One could strip away the paint, yet you still would have a house. If on the other hand you took away the paint or removed a door or window, whatever parts you took away, the house would still contain atoms and the parts you removed would also contain atoms.

Identity is even more fundamental and all-inclusive than atoms. Its removal is rationally inconceivable. Since all of the other parts of existence are reducible to identity, identity must constitute the most basic part.

Matter, regardless of how small, is multi-faceted. It possesses extension. The great metaphysical philosopher, G.W. Leibniz, brilliantly reasoned that physical objects must be, in principle, reducible to something more fundamental than matter.

Leibniz failed, however, to recognize what these "monads" were. The most fundamental constituent of existence is not spirit. It is identity. There is no other thing that it could be. While there may seem to be a significant parallel between the monadology of Leibniz and the primacy of identity, even the metaphysical points of Leibniz and the points of references in space/time hypothesized by modern physics are overstatements of the most basic thing that exists. To give primary status to monistic points is, perhaps, to also give initial status to space and time because a point of reference derives its existence from a reciprocal relationship with a greater whole. This may be the true metaphysical lesson that will emerge from quantum physics.

If one resists the temptation to imagine identity as an utterly immense number of fundamental points, it is not necessary to conceive of it as existing in plural quantities at all. From the singularity of identity, it would follow that all the other things that exist are not just reducible to the same type of fundamental substances, but rather, are ultimately reducible to the same monistic part. The idea that seemingly separate objects share the same single primary part runs contrary to a commonsense understanding of what constitutes a piece or component of a greater whole. Nevertheless, it does not counter the all embracing and monistic quality of identity.


Just as the law of identity is a necessary truth containing within itself its own proof, identity is a necessary existent thing that requires no cause. It cannot not exist. Identity must be everywhere in everything. Its absence would contradict the necessary truth. Once identity is seen as an existent part, it can be seen as the causeless first cause.

Everything that exists comes from this metaphysical force, identity. Because of the primary status of identity, it must be a sufficient cause for all else. Since everything must possess identity, everything is contingent on the existence of identity. Identity must be first in the order of contingency. It is the only causeless cause from which all other things derive their contingent existence.

Identity must be the only causeless cause. It is the only thing that exists from axiomatic necessity. To assert anything but identity as causeless is to assert that thing as not possessing identity and to violate the axiom. Nothing that identity does not cause can exist because there would be no basis for its existence. There can be no causeless effect, nor any inexplicable first cause. There are no parts in all the vastness of reality that have been conjured. This simple, but imposing, logic stands in contraposition with such notions as indetermanism and the prevailing metaphysical interpretation of quantum level uncertainty.

The primacy of identity is not an affirmation of all the classic assumptions made about causality, (e.g., such as the assumption that all causes precede the effect in time). There are many questions regarding causality, which may remain open. In a complex, commingled world, it seems apparent that as well as contingent lineage, there exists fundamentally reciprocal relationship. In such a dependency, a thing may exist only because of the presence of another and visa-versa. The existence of one, nonetheless, is not derived from the other in the respect that one is not more basic than the other.

If one fails to acknowledge the monistic nature of axioms, one might assume that identity exists in reciprocal relationship with something else that is equally basic. Once it is acknowledged, however, that all axioms assert the existence of identity, it becomes clear that identity is the only thing that exists from axiomatic necessity and is a pre-requisite for the existence of everything else. Within the context of the primacy of identity, this is what is meant by the term "first cause." As such, it provides a simple explanation of causality at its most fundamental beginning. It also demonstrates that true causality is metaphysical and not a creation of the mind. Once identity is acknowledged as the primary part of existence, this is provable from the axiom.

Everything that identity causes must exist for its absence would be a contradiction of identity. Identity's existence is causeless but it does not exist independent of other things. The complex diverse world owes its existence to this fact.

Note that identity can only be expressed as part of the greater whole. A world of just identity cannot be conceived. It is rationally inconceivable that identity can be anything but a reliant part. Identity is reliant in the respect that a cause is reliant on its effect because absence of the effect would deny the cause.

This does not contradict identity's status as first in the order of contingency. It is a fundamental explanation of why identity is a cause.


One may hold with the most supreme confidence that this idea explains existence at its most fundamental ground. It answers a most basic and valid metaphysical question – 'What is the given?' This, apparently, is the very inquiry which begot philosophy. It was the central concern of pre-Socratic philosophy. The primacy of identity stands as the ultimate validation of this question by providing a provable answer. Most other historical attempts to deal with this question and explain the world from some primary source did not constitute a true metaphysical theory derived from a metaphysical premise. They were, at best, speculative natural philosophy based on what proved to be quite limited information. Other metaphysical cosmology such as what is found in religion, are not based on anything factual at all. While contemporary thinking may consider all metaphysical cosmology as impossible or meaningless, the identist concept of identity can make such thinking as obsolete as Thales' primacy of water.

There can be nothing outside of existence. It is a necessary truth that existence is an all-inclusive totality. The totality of existence cannot be derived from something apart from that totality. This thesis is not an attempt to explain existence from non-existence. The primacy of identity recognizes that identity is the most basic part of existence and establishes that it must be first in the order of contingency. It explains the ultimate origin of all contingent things that exist. It recognizes that identity must be the only causeless non-contingent part of reality.

Because identity is conceivable only as the primary part of a greater whole, the primacy of identity provides us with an incomplete but nonetheless deep and meaningful explanation of why such things as causality and space/time exist. It gives a reason why there exists a world with contingent effects and multi-faceted extension, two essential components of physical dimensions, (i.e., space/time). Causality, (i.e., the order of contingency) refers to the hierarchical structure of existence. Its most basic foundation is identity. The totality of existence, this order of contingency, is finite, yet unchanging and eternal.

At present, of course, there is no explanation as to how identity is a "sufficient cause" of everything else. Nevertheless, a natural philosophy that explains the physical universe from identity may someday emerge, especially if mysticism fails to repress identity philosophy. In the meantime, because of the uniquely basic status of identity, it is not necessary to know how identity causes everything else in order to be certain that it must be the only causeless first cause. Lacking an explicit and detailed natural philosophy, a loose explanation of why causality and physical extension (i.e. space/time) exist is still possible. The existence of just identity cannot be conceived and as a matter of fact we know that other things exist. If identity is the only causeless first cause and other things exist then there is causality. If things exist in quantity then there should be extension. This would certainly seem to imply material objects existing in space/time.

Conceptual reasoning guided by a relentless devotion to the first principle will be needed if the primacy of identity is to be united with a detailed and explanatory theory of the physical universe. Purging concepts and underlying assumptions that are incompatible with the first principle and the primacy of identity could go a long way in achieving a legitimate "Theory of Everything." The most intriguing and challenging implication of the primacy of identity, nonetheless, is that the basic characteristics of the physical universe must ultimately be explainable from the first principle, (i.e., an elucidation and detailed account of the means by which identity caused the existence of the physical universe). While it is foolish to predict with certainty the yet to be discovered, such an explanation is clearly a reasonable goal of science. Without a metaphysical foundation, however, science can only grope for explicatory principles and science unattached from necessary truth has no real reason to assume that reality is orderly and knowable. Reality itself becomes an ambiguous notion when the axiom is ignored. If an ultimate natural philosophy does emerge, the primacy of identity will supply its foundation and matrix. Perhaps, in addition, it can also supply its inspiration, because such a metaphysical view explicitly affirms an orderly knowable unified world.

The Primacy of identity constitutes a monumental argument against the mystic faith in uncertainty, the peddlers of chaos and those who would insist that theoretical science has advanced as far as it can and will only leave us with irresolvable mysteries.

The primacy of identity is a necessary conclusion drawn from the basic axiom: A is A. It therefore most assuredly must be true. Once this idea is understood there is nothing to be found in the higher esoteric mysteries of contemporary science, philosophy or religion that can succeed in obscuring it. Some say that one cannot assume that everything fits within this order because there are things in existence about which we know nothing. This is the equivalent of telling a mathematician that he is unjustified in saying that 1 plus 1 equals 2, because he has not yet counted every pair of objects in the cosmos. As a means of understanding the state of philosophy and the importance of the axiom, one might consider what would happen to mathematics if mathematicians could not accept with conviction a simple provable fact. This "open-mindedness" would make mathematics impotent and therefor worthless. Numerical computation would decline and be abandoned. The confusion, nevertheless, would not alter the value and need for the discipline.

Identity philosophy asserts certainty of reasons most basic premise. This does not constitute a claim of infallibility or omniscience. We may certainly never hope to know everything. But if we grasp the law of identity, then we know something about everything. If we fail to acknowledge it, then we abdicate any honest claim to know anything.

Just as the law of identity is so obvious, its monumental significance is ignored, the thing that law refers to, identity, fails to be acknowledged not because of its subtlety or complexity, but because of its monistic simplicity and absolute bluntness. Its existence, nonetheless, is incontrovertibly "verified" by the axiom that describes it, and from this it is clear that the rest must follow.


Blogger Mar de Oliveira Campos said...

Parece interessante! Eu gostaria de ler, se entendesse o que está escrito!

Um abraço!

3:26 PM  

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