December 13, 2003

No, appearances of paradox were deceptive

Brian Weatherson's idea about why one should blog one's thoughts instead of just ruminating on them privately is basically that to make them public is inherently stimulative of intellectual progress. Sure enough, as soon as I put down my idea for Brian to reflect on, a brief emailed question from David Beaver and a very short puzzled remark by Brian began to make me see that my example:

(1) Appearances are not deceptive; it only seems as if they are.

is not paradoxical, it's just contradictory. Its problem is not that its truth implies its falsity and conversely, as I confusedly thought; its problem is just that it is false because its second half contradicts its first half. I think that might be all that makes it so mind-bending. While appearing to say something about appearance and reality, it actually says one thing and then takes it back by saying the opposite. That's all the analysis it really needs.

Now why hadn't I seen that before? Because I didn't put down what I was thinking (or trying to think) in writing and expose it to public view. The effort of doing so led rapidly to my being able to see that I was confused. I think that is what Brian was saying in the interview on normblog about why he blogs his thoughts. And he's quite right.

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at December 13, 2003 03:19 PM