An example would be that the concept of 'light' necessitates an opposite: 'dark.' The idea of one entails the other. Is there a term for this?

  • A word opposite in meaning is called an antonym. I think there is a difference between a concept which can have an opposite, and words that have antonyms. Sometimes, a concept has a clear opposite, but there is just no single word to express that meaning, i.e. no antonym.
    – F'x
    Feb 17, 2011 at 9:30
  • @FX_ I'm not talking about antonyms, but ideas that cannot exist without describing an opposite phenomenon. Maybe this is confusing, but it's like if you build a wall, immediately you are separating two things that would not have existed without creating the wall in the first place. If you introduce the concept of 'good,' you are concomitantly inventing 'bad.' Feb 17, 2011 at 9:40

3 Answers 3


Antithesis is a counter-proposition, necessitating a proposition.


I would either call it dialectical (or, under certain circumstances, controversial).

According to http://www.thefreedictionary.com/dialectical, "dialectic" is:

The process especially associated with Hegel of arriving at the truth by stating a thesis, developing a contradictory antithesis, and combining and resolving them into a coherent synthesis.


I think I would go with quality as the good and the bad are a matter of quality.

One of the Tao texts i have places this under Qualities but another has it under Self-Manifestation through Contraries.

antithesis and dialectical don't really fit as what this is a property of human perception which need not be phrased in terms of logical propositions.

note well that what is called the unity of opposites is a fallacy because good can exist with evil but we can't recognize the good without knowing the evil and vise versa so i offer the qualification that it's the perceptive opposites that are unified.


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