Is the king of France bald?
One question which has been discussed throughout the centuries, is whether the king of France is bald. France has no king. Therefore one could think it is self-evident the answer is no. Everybody does not agree on that, though. Some people say that if it is wrong to say the king of France is bald, it is right to say the opposite. In other words, if the king of France is not bald, the king of France has hair on his head. (Please notice that I have not told you if I agree on this one. I only tell you what people have said.) On the other hand, some people say that the sentence “The king of France is bald.” means “There is a king of France, and he is bald.” and the sentence “The king of France has hair on his head.” means “There is a king of France, and he has hair on his head.” (I have still not told you what I think.)
Now I will tell you what I think. I will start with another question: Is the French-teacher in France bald? I say the answer is no. If one is talking about “the French-teacher” one has said there is exactly one French-teacher. Not zero, not two, not more than two. Therefore, the sentences “The French-teacher in France is bald.” and “The French-teacher in France has hair on his head.” can both be wrong at the same time. One can say exactly the same about the king of France. However, the sentences “All kings of France are bald.” and “All kings of France have hair on their heads.” are both true.
Let us look at another phrase. We can look at the phrase “Don Quixote is bald.” Is this true or false? I say it is false. Some people would contradict me and say that in that case it is true that Don Quixote has hair on his head. The mistake they are making, is that they assume that the opposite of being bald is having hair on ones head. It is not. The sentences “X is bald” and “X has har on his/her/its head” can not be true at the same time but they can be false. What is the definition of being bald? Is it not to have hair on ones head? Or is it to have a head with no hair on it? Or is it to have a head with no hair, fur or feathers on it? It is the last-mentioned alternative. Therefore one can not be bald without a head.
Another question: Is Don Quixote smaller than a turtle? Yes! The definition of being small is taking little space. Don Quixote is as small as anything can be, since Don Quixote take no space at all. Therefore, Don Quixote is smaller than a turtle. Two counter-arguments:
1. What if the turtle is a ninja turtle? They do not exist either. Answer: Ninja turtles are not turtles (and Don Quixote is not a human). The definition of being a turtle, is having the genes turtles have. Ninja turtles do not have that.
2. How could Don Quixote be something if Don Quixote does not exist?
Answer: All description words can be categorised in six categories:
1. Positive comparative words
2. Positive non-comparative words
3. Negative comparative words with negation morphemes
4. Negative non-comparative words with negation morphemes
5. Negative comparative words without negation morphemes
6. Negative non-comparative words without negation morphemes
Positive= A word which describes that something is or has or can something. Not (at least not only) that it does not have it.
Non-comparative= Substantives and non-comparative adjectives .
Comparative= Comparative adjectives.
Negation morpheme= un- in- im- non- a- for example
1. Positive comparative words: Example: Warm
2. Positive non-comparative words: Examples: “Bald” “Chair”
3. Negative comparative words with negation morphemes: Example: Unintelligent
4. Negative non-comparative words with negation morphemes: Example: Invisible
5. Negative comparative words without negation morphemes: Example: “Dark” “Small”
6. Negative non-comparative words without negation morphemes: Example: “Dead” Someone might object and say a part of the definition of dead is he/she/it has once lived. It is not true. One can talk about dead items, like chairs and guns.
Categories 1 and 2 do not entail any problems. If something does not exist, it does not belong to any of these categories.
Categories 3 and 4 do not entail any problems either. A negation morpheme indicates there is something the object is not. Saying that someone is unintelligent means he/she is not intelligent.
Category 5 indicates grades. If one says Don Quixote is small, one says Don Quixote's grade of bigness is low. It is true. It is as low as anything can be.
Category 6 entails a problem. One can solve the problem by saying a word can not be negative, unless it is comparative or has a negation morpheme. A logic system should not be subordinated to an illogical language. Therefore we have to have a rule which says that the definition of a negative non-comparative word without negation morphemes, includes the fact that it exists, and therefore these words will be moved to category 2.