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On Interpratation   


true before to say that it would be white, so that of anything that

has taken place it was always true to say 'it is' or 'it will be'. But

if it was always true to say that a thing is or will be, it is not

possible that it should not be or not be about to be, and when a thing

cannot not come to be, it is impossible that it should not come to be,

and when it is impossible that it should not come to be, it must

come to be. All, then, that is about to be must of necessity take

place. It results from this that nothing is uncertain or fortuitous,

for if it were fortuitous it would not be necessary.

Again, to say that neither the affirmation nor the denial is true,

maintaining, let us say, that an event neither will take place nor

will not take place, is to take up a position impossible to defend. In

the first place, though facts should prove the one proposition

false, the opposite would still be untrue. Secondly, if it was true to

say that a thing was both white and large, both these qualities must

necessarily belong to it; and if they will belong to it the next

day, they must necessarily belong to it the next day. But if an

event is neither to take place nor not to take place the next day, the

element of chance will be eliminated. For example, it would be

necessary that a sea-fight should neither take place nor fail to

take place on the next day.

These awkward results and others of the same kind follow, if it is

an irrefragable law that of every pair of contradictory

propositions, whether they have regard to universals and are stated as

universally applicable, or whether they have regard to individuals,

one must be true and the other false, and that there are no real

alternatives, but that all that is or takes place is the outcome of

necessity. There would be no need to deliberate or to take trouble, on

the supposition that if we should adopt a certain course, a certain

result would follow, while, if we did not, the result would not

follow. For a man may predict an event ten thousand years

beforehand, and another may predict the reverse; that which was

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