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Truth, Triviality, and Contradiction

Summary:
Nils Bohr chose Contraria Sunt Complementa as motto for his coat of arms. According to his son and others, Bohr distinguished between the logical properties of trivialities on the one hand and profound truths on the other: The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. [Unsourced] There are two sorts of truth: Profound truths recognized by the fact that the opposite is also a profound truth, in contrast to trivialities where opposites are obviously absurd. [Quoted by Hans Bohr] It is the hallmark of any deep truth that its negation is also a deep truth. [Quoted by Max Delbrück]

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Nils Bohr chose

Contraria Sunt Complementa

as motto for his coat of arms. According to his son and others, Bohr distinguished between the logical properties of trivialities on the one hand and profound truths on the other:

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. [Unsourced]

There are two sorts of truth: Profound truths recognized by the fact that the opposite is also a profound truth, in contrast to trivialities where opposites are obviously absurd. [Quoted by Hans Bohr]

It is the hallmark of any deep truth that its negation is also a deep truth. [Quoted by Max Delbrück]

Dirk Niepelt
Dirk Niepelt is Director of the Study Center Gerzensee and Professor at the University of Bern. A research fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR, London), CESifo (Munich) research network member and member of the macroeconomic committee of the Verein für Socialpolitik, he served on the board of the Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics and was an invited professor at the University of Lausanne as well as a visiting professor at the Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES) at Stockholm University.

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