Negation is in philosophical parlance the absence of that which does not naturally belong to the thing we are speaking of, or which has no right, obligation, or necessity to be present with; as when we say a stone is inanimate or blind or deaf, i.e., has no life, sight, or hearing (Watts, Logic, part 1, chapter 2, § 6). According to the scholastic theologian, Thomas Aquinas (Summa theolog. part 1, qu. 48, art. 5), "simple negation denies to a thing some certain realities which do not belong to the nature of the same. Privation, on the contrary, is deficiency in some reality which belongs to the nature of the being." SEE PRIVATION. In simple apprehension there is no affirmation or denial; so that, strictly speaking, there are no negative ideas, notions, or conceptions. In truth, some that are so called represent the most positive nullities; as infinity, immortality, etc. But in some ideas, as in that of blindness, deafness, insensibility, there is, as it were, a taking away of something from the object of which these ideas are entertained. This is, however, privation (στέρησις) rather than negation (ἀπόφασις), and in general it may be said that negation implies some anterior conception of the objects of which the negation is made. Absolute negation is impossible. We have no idea of nothing — it is but a word. "Nihilum, or nothing," says Clarke, "is that of which everything can truly be denied, and nothing can be truly affirmed. So that the idea of nothing (if I may so speak) is absolutely the negation of all ideas. The idea, therefore, either of a finite or infinite nothing is a contradiction in terms" (Answer to Seventh Letter). Nothing, taken positively, is what does not but may exist, as a river of milk; taken negatively, it is that which does not and cannot exist, as a square circle, a mountain without a valley. Nothing positively is ens potentiale. Nothing negatively is non ens. See Krauth's Fleming, Vocabulary of Philos. pages 345, 346.

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