Saturday, May 13, 2006

Oldie but goodie

If you've been in the biz for a while you've seen some version of "Philosophers' proofs that P" (HT for this version: Scottish Nous). But you don't really get them unless you know the philosopher. Now I've been reading Joseph Margolis lately, and I can confirm that this, Margolis's disproof that p, is very good:
The assumption that P -- indeed, the belief that P is so natural and obvious as to be beyond dispute -- is so deeply woven into Western thought that any attempt to question it, much less to overthrow it, is likely to be met with disbelief, scorn, and ridicule. The denial of P is a deep thesis, a theme of courage, a profound insight into the fundamental nature of things. (Or at any rate it would be if there were a fundamental nature of things, which there isn't.) Anyone unfamiliar with the hidden brutalities of professional philosophy cannot imagine all the nasty things that will be said about someone who dares to mount an assault on P. (Just look at how neglected Protagoras is now -- they even cut his writings up into tiny little bits!)

It has repeatedly been alleged that the denial of P is self-refuting. Extraordinary! As if one bold enough to deny P would feel bound by the conventions of dialethism on which alone any charge of self-refutation rests! Once we have seen through this delusion, we are free to dismiss as nonsense our current vision not only of philosophy and science but also that quaint notion of 'the good life.' We are also free to discard antiquated Hellenic prejudices as to what counts as proof and disproof, whilst retaining (of course) a proper sense of logical rigor. Hence, the foregoing constitutes a disproof of P.
Except for the last sentence of each paragraph, this could be cut and pasted from the man himself.

Some of them aren't so funny, but others are excellent (I like Kripke's). Check it out if you haven't.

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