A study of the concept of negative, with a particular focus on asymmetrical opposites.


A logic professor once said to his class, “a double negative is not the exact opposite of a double positive, whereupon one student stood up, said, “Yeah, right” and then exited.

I view the anecdote as having meaning on two levels. On the semantic level there is definitely such a thing as symmetrical opposites, like “yes” and “no”. These examples are often Manichaen. Exact opposites in the sense that yes can be defined as not no and no can be defined as not yes and if you put them together they annihilate – logically, metaphorically or physically, like matter and anti-matter.

Then there is asymmetry: A double negative changes the concept it relates to; a double positive, while redundant (or emphatic), is still positive. Its not the opposite of a double negative, its different.

— Draft 01


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