My colleague Armin Mester has recently put up on his door down the hall from me a New Yorker cartoon in which a man seated at a restaurant table is saying to his female companion:
There's something you need to know about me, Donna. I don't like people knowing things about me.
This is an odd enough thing to say that I giggled, without quite knowing why. Is there a hint of the liar paradox there? Is it coherent to tell someone (i.e., cause someone to know) that you don't like people knowing things about you, which entails that you don't want them knowing that you don't like people knowing things about you, which is precisely what you have just caused them to know about you? Is it merely self-contradictory? Or does it have no truth value at all, like This sentence makes a false claim?
I'm out of my philosophical depth as usual. And my philosopher partner Barbara Scholz is away in Ohio right now. Is there an epistemologist in the house? Perhaps Brian Weatherson will have a view; I guess I can watch Thoughts, arguments and rants to find out.Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at January 13, 2004 07:47 PM