Thank you for this interesting little story. Very instructive! What is cute, in those cases, is that it is through negation that one purports to demonstrate: “I will demonstrate to you that this ceiling is not white”. Why does not one demonstrate that this ceiling is such or such a color?? For me, this is one of the most significant manias of contemporary Western thought: to start with negation.
Further, there is a confusion between “white” and “whiteness”, i.e. between the real being and the universal (or being of reason). In this case, being of reason is taken as measure of reality, and even substitutes itself to it. “Whiteness” (which is called “white” in your story) does not exist as a color of itself, but only as an abstraction proceeding from one's intelligence. It is one from the multiple, in a triple relation, either "unum ex-multis", "unum ad-multa" or "unum in-multis". It is interesting to seek the three nuances, because the person you spoke to lined up three mistakes in his development. Mistakes which correspond rigorously to the negation of these three nuances of the universal. The first is that he denies that the abstraction of the one proceeds from the multitude of singulars (ex); then he refuses to see that this one is ordered to the diversity from which it proceeds (ad); finally, he concludes with a denial that this one (the white) can, as a being of reason, identify itself to such or such a singular from which it proceeds.
In other words, he starts with a being of reason as if he took it out of a hat (he should have been stopped in his tracks with the question: what is "white"?). Then he intentionally separates this white that he has nonetheless abstracted. Finally, he denies that the singular is identifiable to the abstraction, which he brandishes as unique measure and absolutely separated from any reality other than his intelligence. It is thus gobbledygook.
As a side note, this problem of the One and the Multiple crops up everywhere these days. It is a favorite of contemporary thought, which in the last analysis replaces Being by One, and even places Being in dependence to One. At the end of the day, this leads to substituting logic to metaphysics, which is quite seducing and even ecumenical, since only logic reconciles the one and the multiple! Whereas metaphysics distinguishes them, and shows that one is a property of being, in other words that Being is first.
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