What other authority are you interested in comparing it to? Haven't found any others mentioned here so far, but I'm always open to suggestions.
Let's stick with your original definition for now.
Why is your unusual definition preferable to the one in the dictionary? Please demonstrate why.
Because it is, in the end, far preferable to your definition.
You presume incorrectly. My point involved no authority at all, simply presenting one example that hopefully you could grasp. Use a random source of gray light. Anything gray will do, especially if you drop the "authority" straw-man from it.
Your example merely served to demonstrate the inconsistency of your position.
To simplify: This object can be considered both "white" and "black". We're discussing how black and white are the same.
I provided an example of such, and hopefully you will consider it.
You have stated that "black" and "white" are relative
terms, in much the same way that "richer" and "poorer" or "taller" and "shorter" are relative terms. On the other hand, you've also stated: "White light is the color we see when all colors are present. Black light is the color we see when all colors are absent." In effect, then, "black" and "white" are absolute
terms, in that they have, at least, a theoretical existence.
In other words, according to you, Smiley
, "black" and "white" are both relative and absolute terms. This, I contend, they cannot be.
For example, you stated elsewhere that a certain shade of grey might be 50% black, which would make sense if "black" were an absolute measure (in the same way that it would make sense to say that A is 50% taller than B, as long as we could unambiguously ascertain the height of B). But you've said that "black" can never
be ascertained, since it is an unattainable absolute, i.e. something that resembles the infinite. Yet 50% of infinity, as I mentioned before, is identical to "infinity." Thus, we can no more have a concept of "grey" than we could of "black." Either both are unascertainable, or both are ascertainable.
To say, then, that "black" and "white" are relative terms, but then to define other things on the basis of their "blackness" or "whiteness," is to make these relative terms self-referential. Let me offer an example: if I were to say "this tree is taller," one would presumably ask: "taller than what
?" It would be unsatisfactory, however, to answer: "taller than taller
," since "taller" can only be measured against some standard, not against itself. In other words, relative terms must reference something other than themselves.
, with "black" and "white" as both relative and absolute terms, we are faced with the same problem. If I were to say "this object is black," then, insofar as "black" is a relative term, one would presumably inquire: "black in relation to what
?" But since "black" is also absolute, I could respond: "black as black
." And according to you, Smiley
, that would be a satisfactory response, since "black" is both relative and
absolute. In effect, then, black is the measure of blackness, which is a meaningless tautology.
Furthermore, this conundrum is not solved by simply saying that "black" and "white," although absolute, are only theoretically
possible -- in other words, although we can talk as if
there are such things as "black" and "white," they are, by definition, unattainable in their purest forms. For then we are still left with shades of grey that are intermediate stages between "black" and "white." If we cannot pin down the end points of the line between "black" and "white," we cannot do the same with any of the intermediate points either. Thus, not only are "black" and "white" indeterminate, but "grey" is as well.
, I realize that you may be perfectly happy with this solution. After all, you've stated: "Any shade of gray can be considered black. Any shade can be considered white." In much the same sense, you also noted:
Once we measure the tree to be twenty feet high, the correct metaphor would be "Maybe twenty feet is considered short, or maybe it's considered tall". It could be both at the same time.
In reality, everything in the universe is short. Everything is the universe is also tall.
There is some truth to this. After all, a grasshopper is a giant compared to a midge. And we can certainly say that a shade of grey may be "blacker" than another shade. But it is a far different thing to say that "any shade of grey can be considered black
," for if "black" and "white" are relative terms, then they relate to each other
inversely. In other words, if some shade of grey is "blacker" than another, then we must
assume that the latter shade is "whiter" than the former.
In contrast, Smiley
, you seem to suggest that "black" and "white" are not only relative terms, but they don't even relate to each other
. For if they did, they could not be identical, just as the grasshopper and the midge, although both "short," are not as
short as each other. In short, "black" and "white," even as purely relative terms, must relate
to something: it seems that you want them to relate to "blackness" and "whiteness," which is an empty tautology.
And that, in sum, is why your definition is unsatisfactory.