## Demonstration that there are Basic Concepts

February 3, 2012 by Bryce Laliberte

A basic concept is essentially one for which no definition in more basic concepts is possible. It is a concept which is known just as it is, and for which it can only be explained by reference to how you can put it in something and then, subtracting what else is there, you are left with just that basic concept. Examples of basic concepts (that I’m quite confident are basic concepts) would be Being, happiness, metaphysics, God, and so on.

If a basic concept cannot be defined in terms of more basic terms, it follows then that a basic concept can be expressed as a logical atom for which there is no equivalent proposition (a proposition can be a logical atom or multiple logical atoms with an expression of relations) except itself. They are like prime numbers; they lack a formula of derivation.

But we are to demonstrate that there are basic concepts. This can be done by considering how it is to explain a concept. When we explain a concept, and that concept is not a basic concept, we point out how it will be the case that the concept is actual if and only if some relation between propositions holds. In other words, a concept can be replaced by what it’s defined with, and it will be the same thing. So we can express definition by equivalence;

p <–> q

However, in the case that p is equivalent to some composite state of affairs, then we will have to say that;

p <–> (r • d)

Now, if there are no basic concepts, then it follows that, for every proposition, it can be expressed as equivalent to some composite proposition. This means that you would see something like this;

p <–> (r • d)

r <–> (w –> e)

by the principle that if a = b and b = c, then a =c

p <–> [(w –> e) • d]

Now if there are no basic concepts, then it follows we can keep doing this for every atomic proposition invoked,it will be the case that p if and only if some infinitely long state of affairs is the case. But then it would follow that no proposition can actually be explained.

Therefore, there are basic concepts.

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