In a thread on this site, somebody says that everything that can be defined, must have an opposite.

Then what is the opposite of me? I can define me using my consciousness: I am my concsiousness.

But what is the opposite of my consciousness?

  • 2
    Can you link to the thread? I think you (and possibly the other poster) are getting senses of the word "opposite" confused. Opposite can refer to both obverse and converse (and several other things).
    – virmaior
    Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 1:11
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    I think this is the link.
    – Nemo
    Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 6:57
  • You are an object become subject also, you are not just consciousness, you have self-consciousness, and if you raise your consciousness further, you have consciousness of a totality of which you are a part.
    – Gordon
    Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 7:17
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    @Gordon: It is both the object in general and your own body, which appears only in this double-aspectivity of subject-object. I'd argue it is Spinoza, Kant, JACOBI, Fichte, Hölderlin, Hegel, Darwin, Dilthey/Mitsch (the latter being his editor), Plessner, Charles Taylor (the late), if you look for a line of thought up to the 21st century.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 11:37
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    I'm of the opinion that only adjectives, adverbs, and similar describing words have opposites, and that nouns do not.
    – user935
    Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 17:41

5 Answers 5


To say the opposite of something, we need a base to stand on. And to say the opposite of that base, again we need another base to stand on. And also there must be something that is different from the base.

For instance let's take 'hot' and 'cold'.

Both these words are adjectives and are used for comparing temperatures. Since these two are of the same category and is also possible to say a word that differentiates some properties, we can say one word is the opposite of the other.

But this is not the case of consciousness. Consciousness is the base of everything. Only those who realized the Ultimate truth know that consciousness is pure, unique and undivided. But usually our ego creates boundaries and we live safely in it believing that there are myriads of consciousnesses.

Since consciousness is the base of everything it (my consciousness) has no opposite.


[Since there is a higher level of understanding, from a lower level we can say 'consciousness is the base'. To understand anything consciousness is a must. But from a higher level many great men have realized that 'there is nothing beyond/other than consciousness'. So they didn't even need to use the word 'base'.

I think there is no difficulty in believing that consciousness is pure. The difficulty occurs in the next two words only...i.e. "it is unique and undivided". If one can believe that consciousness is pure, he can also say it has no opposite.

If there is a thing that is absolutely pure, it won't have an opposite...In other words, the word we found out must have moved from its level. But to realize that purity, one must 'go' beyond the imagination of particles.

You may try to find out the opposite of 'Pure consciousness'. People may say its opposite is 'Impure consciousness'. But to become impure it must move from its level. That means these two have no common base to confirm that one is the opposite of the other. But one can argue linguistically.]

See this reference

Vivekananda also gave importance to consciousness:

You, as body, mind, or soul, are a dream, but what you really are, is Being, Consciousness, Bliss. You are the God of this universe. You are creating the whole universe and drawing it in.

  • I upvoted this since it was my first thought also. But perhaps we could also say that 'my' consciousness is the opposite of what Schopenhauer calls his 'better' consciousness, which is consciousness free of the subject/object distinction. Not really an opposite since the distinction reduces, but it may normally seem like one.
    – user20253
    Commented Nov 1, 2017 at 13:23
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    What is the "opposite" of a red-bellied woodpecker? That consciousness has no "opposite" has nothing to do with it being "the base of everything", whatever that means. And since the OP presumably did not "realize the Ultimate truth" (s)he does not mean the consciousness described in the last two paragraphs, so they are moot.
    – Conifold
    Commented Nov 1, 2017 at 23:02
  • @ Conifold - What you say makes sense for 'my' consciousness, or 'my' sense of it, but what Son of Thought says makes more sense for consciousness. You may believe that consciousness is always differentiated and modified by Mind, but if it is not then what SoT says would make sense. Whether he is right is another matter.
    – user20253
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 11:47
  • The western equivalent of what you describe is Being (or Life). They are used as terms to avoid the connotations of absolute idealism. Still, I see another problem: It does not clearly address the problem as stated in the OP. Of course, the very notion of opposite needs boundaries and stating that there is no difference at all between the feelings and thoughts one is aware of and Being (or capital Consciousness) is not a position held in any writing I am aware of. There are important differences, even in Indian philosophy, and may it only be of a standpoint from where to look at it. Sources!
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 12:48

somebody says that everything that can be defined, must have an opposite

Absolute nonsense. I would expect that more things don't have opposites than do. Tell me if you can, what are the opposites of these?

  • a box
  • Handel's Messiah
  • the number 0

Wikipedia's definition of opposites is decent:

In lexical semantics, opposites are words lying in an inherently incompatible binary relationship, like the opposite pairs big : small, long : short, and precede : follow. The notion of incompatibility here refers to the fact that one word in an opposite pair entails that it is not the other pair member. For example, something that is long entails that it is not short. It is referred to as a 'binary' relationship because there are two members in a set of opposites. The relationship between opposites is known as opposition. A member of a pair of opposites can generally be determined by the question What is the opposite of X ?

There are many concepts which are not in an inherently incompatible binary relationship. To say that everything that can be defined must have an opposite is a falacy akin to the false dilemma.

It is not a meaningful question to ask what the opposite of a consciousness is.

As barrycarter notes in a comment, most opposites are descriptors, adjectives or adverbs. Few are nouns, though as Wikipedia notes, some nouns are in a relationship of opposition, such as teacher and pupil.


I think you have to look to psychology for this. (Matter and anti-matter are defined by equal but opposite charges. Humans are much more complex than elementary particles so you aren't going to find the exact opposite of the self that can be precisely quantified and proven to be perfectly symmetrical.)

However, Jung introduced the concept of the shadow, which is in conflict with the conscious ego.

I'd take it a step further and use the term nemesis in the sense of an agent that acts in opposition to the self.

This utilizes the idea of the will, which implies intent, a quality that is only possessed by conscious beings. The intent of the nemesis is counter to that of the self.


It is definitely an intriguing question. I have 2 possible answers to this; however, they can be further defined from an objective or subjective (your perception) point of view.

  1. Unconsciousness (the absence of consciousness); just as darkness is classified as the absence of visible light.

  2. The opposite of consciousness. For this you would need to define and quantify each value that contributes to the makeup of consciousness and then seek the polar opposites to those values.


what is the opposite of my consciousness?

Instead of going into definitions of term "opposite" let us cast an intuitive glance on the origin of any opposite, that is, not-this. This question is much related to another, recent one, where in an answer I expressed a view that in order an opposition to A to emerge, A must first (partly) disidentify with itself, and that consciousness is the (only) activity within the world which initiates - and guarantees - the disidentification.

How does it happen? Consciousness is intentional, i.e. it always is directed onto something. When I perceive a tree, consciousness automatically self-appoints not to be the tree. The tree is pushed away from "immanence" into "transcendence" and becomes object. Objects are always "over there" and because of that any judgement/knowledge about them will ever remain questionable and self-alienated. Note that object exists before subject comes to exist. At first, there is anonymous consciousness vs its object. The object is "opposite" (split off into transcendence) to the consciousness which isn't yet me.

But at the same time as it rejects (to be) the tree, consciousness chooses instead to be some specific possibility on the tree theme. (And that is how meaning of this-tree-in-this-world arises.). The choice is spontaneous and free. And it is apodictically true intuition. On the other hand, it is important to note that an intuition of a possibility is an intuition of something really lacking (like Venus having no arms), - so the consciousness is the chosen possibility but by mode of non-being. It means there is no object here, and the possibility (about the tree there) appears the no-object-posing consciousness on oneself.

Thus, we have immediate, pre-reflective self-consciousness in the form of a sketch (a project) of Being of world allowing that particular tree, or meaning, that taste of the tree. That project (which is primeval me) is true and wanting, while tree itself is problematic and waste. That is how the opposition is coloured asymmetrically at its becoming.

"Later", as cognition (cogito) starts, consciousness reflects onto its activity, posing what it is doing as objects. My thoughts on the tree - they start to flow, as it now felt, and they feel like being seen or supervised on from a side, as if there are some witness or controller intimately close by. This is the point where we become aware of the primeval other (so notice that other man is thus initially not an object to us, he is a "sideway stare" going along with reflection, - we can't be soliptic). And only in the last step of this evolution of reflection - there emerges Ego, or subject. This "I" is just another object, like that tree in the beginning, only that it appears in the end thanks to reflection. But like any object ego is alienated into transcendence. Neither we can truly believe our ego, nor can we be it, ourselves, by mode of identity, like that table is that table. I'm yet another opposite of my consciousness.

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