[lit-ideas] Re: Can You Imagine 2 + 2 = 5?

  • From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 19:16:08 -0800


What I had in mind and sorry for the confusion was that being certain that Ursula lives in Canada e.g. doesn't entail that she lives there; i.e., it doesn't entail that the proposition 'Ursula lives in Canada,' is true. In other words, x was standing in for a proposition.


For many years, I agreed with the logic of this statement. Just because you believe something doesn't make it real (note that i use "real", not "true").

In using 'real' you've either changed the example or introduced a notion which I don't understand. Nothing is real tout court, e.g., even though a decoy isn't a real duck, it's a real decoy (as opposed to its being a large bath toy or an illusion). So, I'm not sure why you want to change 'true' to 'real' in this case. It doesn't seem to work in the case of believing that Ursula lives in Canada; I mean, what's real here. Well, it's a real belief, expressed in a real English sentence, but I suspect that this isn't what you want.

But I've noticed that it is indeed possible for people "to believe a logical impossiblity", and to make it stronger, it's possible for people "to know a logical impossiblity".

The first part is certainly true, but except in cases which I can't imagine (the role of imaginability hasn't been clear throughout this discusssion) I don't get what it would mean for someone to know a logical impossibility. Usually logical impossibility is a deal-breaker in arguments—to show that one's interlocutor is committed to believing in one if he or she continues down the present path is more or less like saying 'Mate in two moves, if you don't move your knight.' More or less, but not exactly.

Robert Paul
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