THE NEGATIVITY-NEGATORINESS MISASSOCIATION
To designate a set of attributes or relations the
extensionality of a
catena it is necessary to
neutral predicate and two
polar predicates which are each
Strictly speaking, it is not necessary to know which of the polar
predicates is positive, or should be called "positive", and
which one is negative, or should be called "negative", as long as one of
them is positive and the other negative and
catenated to it.
In the traditional variant of the
language which is our present means of communication, positivity
is often associated (or rather, 'misassociated') with affirmation,
and vice versa, whereas negativity is associated with
negation, and vice versa. (The same is true for related and
ancestral languages, which explains the etymological family
relationship between negative and negate(d) in the first
place.) This process in which negativity is associated with
something that implies or entails negation, and in which
negatoriness is associated with something that implies or
entails negativity, will be referred to as "the negativity-negatoriness
misassociation". It is either caused by the paronymy and
homonymy of the terms in question (such as the ambiguity of
negative) or by a factor of which the paronymy and the
homonymy themselves are consequences too.
Those who confuse negativity and negatoriness tend to value,
for example, happiness, activity and honor positive, because
their names are of an affirmative nature; and they tend to value
un-happiness, in-activity and dis-honor negative,
because the names of these predicates are of a negational nature.
Originally the effect may have been the other way around,
however: since happiness, for instance, was experienced as
'something positive', it acquired an affirmative name, and since
unhappiness was experienced as 'something negative', it acquired
a negatory name. As the term for the positivity is often
unmarked and that for the negativity marked (especially when
prefixed), there is a tendency in the present language to
evaluate predicates expressed by means of marked terms negative,
and those expressed by means of unmarked terms positive. (It has
been argued that therefore the use of purportedly unmarked,
gender-linked terms such as he and man for both females and
males, coincided, or still coincides, with a positive or higher
evaluation of what is traditionally masculine and a negative or
lower evaluation of what is traditionally feminine, for she
and woman are, and never were, analogously employed in an
Not happy means unhappy only within the narrow framework
of the catena's
bipolarity, that is, the subset
of all happiness and unhappiness predicates.
But too often is the bipolarity thought to represent all
catenary possibilities, and is
not positive equated with negative.
That sentient being is not happy is, then, believed to mean the same
as that sentient being is unhappy.
The state —actually, 'both states'— of indifference, of
being-neither-happy-nor-unhappy, is then ignored altogether.
The hereditary taint of traditional language is clearly expressed in the
fact that the opposite of a positive predicate can be formed very easily by
means of prefixes such as un- or dis-, whereas people have to
resort to clumsy circumlocutions to describe the neutrality which limits
Even neither positive nor negative does not denote neutrality alone,
for something that is
noncatenical is also
neither positive nor negative; yet, it is not neutral nevertheless.
People are thus saddled with a vicious circle: as they often cannot express
themselves easily with respect to neutrality or the condition of not having
any predicate of a certain catena, they do not think about these
nonpositive, nonnegative alternatives, and as they often do not take
these nonpolar alternatives into consideration, traditional
language enables the speaker only to express
'imself in an easy,
'natural' way when speaking of the positive or negative
properties and relations of things, and when confusing the fact
of having a neutrality with the fact of not having any predicate
of the catena in question.
(It is precisely one of the objectives of the catenical analysis to break
thru this vicious
Increase and all other predicates relating in some way to
more and directed to are always to be evaluated positive,
because the mathematical meaning of positive which we have
taken as prototypic is itself greater than zero. Augmentation,
intensification and aiming at something are, then,
positive concepts, but predicates like happier (or more
happy) and heavier (or more heavy) are only positive, if
the corresponding predicates (happiness and heaviness) are also
(taken to be) positive. If unhappiness were positive and
happiness negative, happier would also be negative, and
unhappier positive. Similarly, if lightness is positive, it
is not heavier which is positive but its opposite lighter.
In spite of the misassociation of positive with agreeable
and good, even agreeableness and goodness need not be positive
predicates. The name agreeableness is affirmative and
disagreeableness negatory, and this gives us a purely linguistic
reason to conceive of agreeableness as a positivity and of
disagreeableness as a negativity.
(Which does not tell us anything about
nonpropositional reality: in
a different language it could be the other way around.)
The name goodness, however, is not more affirmative than
badness, and thus there is even on this view no more reason to call
goodness "a positivity" than there is to call badness "a positivity" (and
goodness "a negativity").
Even when thinking in catenary instead of auxiliary
terms, goodness and badness need not be opposites of each
other limited by a neutral attribute neither good nor bad or
If goodness is the promotion of the normatively superior on the
performatory level, then
goodness and badness are indeed opposites, but if good is the normatively
superior itself, then goodness and badness are each other's supplement, or
what would be each other's supplement from a catenary perspective.
Goodness then 'limits', on the neutralistic view, 'bipolar' badness.
Strictly speaking, it is not badness which is bipolar, but bipolarity
which is bad.
This is one of the reasons for speaking of "an auxiliary series" rather
than of "a catena of goodness and badness".