Saturday, February 26, 2005

an absent-minded imperialist comes round

BERNARD PORTER has a surprisingly humane review of the Elkins and Anderson books in the LRB.

Dialetheism post will be up shortly.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


I'lll put up a monster post about this shortly.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

some contradictions are true...

SAINT of the day (some days ago) is Onesimus, ex-slave of Philemon.

CONTRADICTIONS. I can't believe I haven't seen any of Graham Priest's stuff before, well, except for his Logic: A Very Short Introduction. Only recently, I discovered his 'What's So Bad About Contradictions?’ (The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 95, No. 8, Aug. 1998), a sustained and substantial brutalization of the Law of NonContradiction (LNC).

These are my reading notes thereof.

There are five reasons to abhor contradictions:
(1) Contradictions entail everything.
(2) Contradictions cannot be true.
(3) Contradictions cannot be believed rationally.
(4) If contradictions were acceptable, no one could ever be rationally criticized.
(5) If contradictions were acceptable, no one could deny anything.

GP considers (2) to boil down to an appeal to the Law of Noncontradiction (LNC).
G.P. accuses Aristotle of equivocation – (E) the slide between some contradictions are false and all contradictions are false. There's some further discussion of the problems with the Aristotelian arguments here.

Now there are 4 further arguments for (2),

A - Contradictions lack meaning.
1. Contradictions have no content, because they have no meaning.
2. therefore they have no true content.
Note that the classical logician is unable to support this argument; he believes that a contradiction implies everything, rather than nothing. So the contradiction has ‘total’ content.

But contradictions are meaningful utterances, else how could they be seen to be contradictions (and so, supposedly, always false) at all?

B - If contradictions are true, nothing could be meaningful.
1. Some claim is meaningful only if it rules out some other claim.
2. If A doesn’t rule out not-A, then A isn’t meaningful. (The minimum condition that A has to fulfill to be meaningful is to rule out not-A)
So, if claims of the form [A & not-A] are admitted to be meaningful, nothing at all is meaningful.

This suffers from the same fault pointed out in (E) above, viz. sliding between some X and all X.
The LNC requires only that some statements do not rule out their negations. Consider: the negation of 'nothing can be asserted to be and not to be at the same time and in the same repect' is 'something can be asserted to be and not to be at the same time and in the same repect'. However, It seems to be widely held that the proper negation is 'everything can be asserted to be ...etc.'

Also, the argument above relies on the claim that all statements rule out their own negations.
But then consider also: ‘Everything is true’. This rules nothing out and is clearly meaningful. Its negation, ‘something is false’, is also true.

There's more to follow, but this looks very interesting.

the EXPERIENTIALIST is back. Here.

the ENGAGEMENT is announced of a dear, loud, and quite mad friend. Congratulations!

Saturday, February 12, 2005


ANTHONY KAULEAS, 829, Patriarch of Constantinople, is the Saint of the day.

THE KENYAN HIERARCHY issue a statement calling on the president to sack corrupt officials. It seems all 29 of them signed.

ABOLITION Adams Hochschild's Bury the Chains apparently deals quite well with the British abolition movement, but if reports are to be believed, not so well with the economic consequences of slavery and abolition. Joseph inikori has a big, fat book on the subject...Eric Williams' Capitalism and Slavery is also worth reading.

THE PRINCE OF WALES finally makes a (semi) - honest woman of Camilla. Steve Bell draws it best.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Githongo resigns

JOHN GITHONGO, P.S. in charge of ethics and governance in the Office of the President has resigned. Resignation apparently tendered earlier today. More to follow.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Ball and the Cross - style

St. BRIGID, abbess, patron of Ireland, is the saint of the day.

POVERTY reduction by reducing the number of poor people. Berenike explains.

The KENYATTA - MOI dynasty entrenches itself further.

WSF ends. Another world is possible...