Maarten Maartensz:    Philosophical Dictionary | Filosofisch Woordenboek                      

 A - Antinomy


Antinomy: Contradiction; what is against the law.

The second definition is a literal translation. In logic, mathematics and philosophy, "antinomy" is contrasted with "paradox", that also has the sense of contradiction, but that means literally what is beyond the teaching, or beyond expectation.

The reason to have both terms is that not all paradoxes are antinomies, in the sense that something may be unexpected, quaint, odd, and thus contradicts what one believes would or should be the case, but nevertheless may not stand in logical contradiction with something one can prove.

If one can prove so, one has a real antinomy, that accordingly requires some proof. Accordingly, logically speaking some antinomies - such as "it rains  and it does not rain" - are not paradoxical, since one knows them to be contradictory, but then it is generally better to speak simply of contradiction.

Outside logic, mathematics and philosophy, antinomies and paradoxes are often confused, and are then usually both called "paradox", and then normally in the strong sense of logical contradiction.

This is somewhat unfortunate, in that there are quite a few mathematical theorems that prove things that one would not expect or that do not conform with one's intuitions about the subject, yet can be proved.


See also: Logic, Paradox



 Original: Nov 18, 2009                                                Last edited: 12 December 2011.   Top