I have found two different statements on axiom of foundation of Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory in two different books as:

1) every nonempty set contains an element that is not an element of any other element in the set.

2) Every non-empty set $x$ contains a member $y$ such that $x$ and $y$ are disjoint sets.

These two are not equivalent statements. Am I correct ?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Which books did you find these formulations in? When written formally with only $\in$ it is easy to misread the axiom. It is also possible that whoever wrote the book made a mistake (which may or may not have been corrected since then). $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila
    Apr 20, 2013 at 12:58
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I’ve a suspicion that a $\in$ got turned around in (1). $\endgroup$ Apr 20, 2013 at 13:06

1 Answer 1


They are not equivalent. In fact, (1) is actually refutable under a weak subtheory of ZF. Consider any inductive set $X$. Then for each $u \in X$ we have that $u \in u \cup \{ u \} \in X$. Thus $X$ has no element as described in (1).


You must log in to answer this question.