An Introduction to Antilogy

Antilogy (derives from the Greek combination ‘anti’, “against” and ‘logos,’ “a discourse”), is a figure, which in its presentation, consists of a contradiction between words or passages in a discourse or speech. The contradiction may occur either in termsOpens in new window or ideasOpens in new window.

Antilogy may also involve two discourses in opposition — whether by accidentOpens in new window or in debateOpens in new window. The term antilogy evolves from the notion that any given argument contains two opposing views.

Antilogy which is related to sophistryOpens in new window and paralogismOpens in new window, is in fact a defect in reasoningOpens in new window. The defect is pushed so far that not only do the ideas involved seem mutually contradictory, but the meaning of the words themselves also prevents any possibility of conciliation. — (courtesy: Bernard Marie Dupriez, A Dictionary of Literary Devices: Gradus, A-Z (Pg. 46).)

Notable Examples of Antilogy
  • ‘A two sided triangle, a virtuous tyrant’
  • — (OED)
  • ‘Squaring the circle’
  • — (Bernard Marie Dupriez, A Dictionary of Literary Devices)
  • ‘almost quite ready’
  • — (Bernard Marie Dupriez, A Dictionary of Literary Devices)
  • ‘even if it’s true, it’s false’
  • — (H. Michax, Tranches de savoir, in L’Espace du dedans, Pg. 339)
  • ‘On the stroke of five thirty six o’clock’
  • — (R. Queneau, Pierrot mon ami, Pg. 32)

Antilogy belongs in the realm of paradoxOpens in new window, since the incompatibility existing between its terms cannot but offend against common sense. If no intelligibility remains, antilogy constitutes a nonsense.

Further Readings:
Bernard Marie Dupriez | A Dictionary of Literary Devices: Gradus, A-Z: Antilogy, (Pg. 46)Opens in new window