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Encyclopedia > Self refuting idea

Self-refuting ideas are ideas or statements whose falsehood is a direct logical consequence of holding that they are true. Logical consequence is the relation that holds between a set of sentences and a sentence when the latter follows from the former. ...

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Epimenides paradox

The first notable self-refuting idea is the Epimenides paradox, a statement attributed to Epimenides, a Cretan philsopher, that "All Cretans are Liars". Interpreted (for the present purpose) as meaning "no Cretan ever speaks the truth" this cannot be true if uttered by a Cretan. The Epimenides paradox is a problem in logic. ...


Directly self-denying statements

The Epimenides paradox is an instance of a statement of the form "this statement is false". Such statements troubled philosophers, especially when there was a serious attempt to formalise the foundations of logic. Bertrand Russell developed his "Theory of Types" to formalise a set of rules which would prevent such statements being made in symbolic logic[1] but Kurt Godel showed that any logical system which was rich enough to contain elementary arithmetic had to contain propositions whose interpretation was "this proposition is unprovable (in the logical system concerned)" and hence that no such system could be complete and consistent. Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell OM FRS (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970), was a British philosopher, logician, and mathematician. ... At the broadest level, type theory is the branch of mathematics and logic that concerns itself with classifying entities into sets called types. ... Kurt Gödel Kurt Gödel [ kurt gøːdl ], (April 28, 1906 – January 14, 1978) was a logician, mathematician, and philosopher of mathematics, whose biography lists quite a few nations, although he is usually associated with Austria. ...


Naive scientism

The statement "no statements are true unless they can be proven scientifically", is self-refuting insofar as it cannot be proven scientifically; the same goes for essentially similar views like "no statements are true unless they can be shown empirically to be true" [2]. (This kind of issue was a serious problem for logical positivism). Logical positivism (later referred to as logical empiricism, rational empiricism, or neo-positivism) is a school of philosophy that combines positivism—which states that the only authentic knowledge is scientific knowledge—with a version of apriorism—the notion that some propositional knowledge can be had without, or prior to, experience. ...


Naive materialism

The philosopher Mary Midgley claims the idea that "nothing exists except matter" is also self-refuting because if it were true neither it, nor any other idea, would exist, and similarly that an argument to that effect would be self-refuting because it would deny its own existence[3]. Mary Midgley, née Scrutton, (b. ...


Several other philosophers argue that Eliminative materialism is self-refuting[4][5][6] Eliminativists argue that our modern belief in the existence of mental phenomena is analogous to our ancient belief in obsolete theories such as the geocentric model of the universe. ...


However, other forms of materialism may escape this kind of argument because, rather than eliminating the mental, they seek to identify it with, or reduce it to, the material.[7][8]. For instance, identity theorists such as J. J. C. Smart, Ullin Place and E. G. Boring claim that ideas exist materially as patterns of neural structure and activity.[9][10] In philosophy, materialism is that form of physicalism which holds that the only thing that can truly be said to exist is matter; that fundamentally, all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions. ... For other uses, see Mind (disambiguation). ... identity theory is a regularly published, webzine of literature and culture edited by Matt Borondy from Austin, TX, established in 2000. ... Reductive materialism (Identity Theory) claims that there is no independent, autonomous level of phenomena in the world that would correspond to the level of conscious mental states. ... John Jameison Carswell Smart, or Jack Smart, (born 1920, M.A. (Glasgow, 1946), B.Phil (Oxford, 1948)) is a Scottish-Australian philosopher. ... Ullin Place (1924 – 2000) was a British philosopher and psychologist. ... Edwin Garrigues Boring (October 23, 1886-July 1, 1968 [1]) is one of the first historians of psychology. ... The nervous system of an animal coordinates the activity of the muscles, monitors the organs, constructs and processes input from the senses, and initiates actions. ...


Naive Foundationalism

The Philosopher Anthony Kenny argues that the idea, "common to theists like Aquinas and Descartes and to an atheist like Russell" that "Rational belief [is] either self-evident or based directly or indirectly on what is evident" which he terms "foundationalism" following Plantinga is self-refuting because this idea is itself neither self-evident nor based directly or indirectly on what is evident and that the same applies to other formulations of foundationalism.[11] Sir Anthony John Patrick Kenny (born 1931) is an English philosopher whose interests lie in the philosophy of mind, scholastic and ancient philosophy, the philosophy of Wittgenstein and the philosophy of religion. ... Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225 - March 7, 1274) was a Catholic philosopher and theologian in the scholastic tradition, who gave birth to the Thomistic school of philosophy, which was long the primary philosophical approach of the Roman Catholic Church. ... René Descartes René Descartes (IPA: , March 31, 1596 – February 11, 1650), also known as Cartesius, worked as a philosopher and mathematician. ... Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell OM FRS (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970), was a British philosopher, logician, and mathematician. ... Alvin Cornelius Plantinga (born 15 November 1932 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, of Frisian ancestry) is a contemporary American philosopher known for his work in epistemology, metaphysics, and the philosophy of religion. ...


Notes and References

  1. ^ Russell B, Whitehead A.N., Principia Mathematica
  2. ^ see eg Keith Ward, Is Religion Dangerous?
  3. ^ see Mary Midgley The Myths we Live by
  4. ^ Baker, L. (1987). Saving Belief Princeton, Princeton University Press
  5. ^ Reppert, V. (1992). Eliminative Materialism, Cognitive Suicide, and Begging the Question. Metaphilosophy 23: 378-92.
  6. ^ Boghossian, P. (1990). The Status of Content Philosophical Review 99: 157-84. and (1991)The Status of Content Revisited. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 71: 264-78.
  7. ^ Hill, C. Identity Theory
  8. ^ "Identity Theory of Mind is a theory, in philosophy of mind, which asserts that mental events are type-identical to the physical events in the brain with which they are correlated". -- Wikipedia on Identity theory
  9. ^ "To the author a perfect correlation is identity. Two events that always occur together at the same time in the same place, without any temporal or spatial differentiation at all, are not two events but the same event. The mind-body correlations as formulated at present, do not admit of spatial correlation, so they reduce to matters of simple correlation in time. The need for identification is no less urgent in this case." Place, U.T., Identity Theories in A Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind. Società italiana per la filosofia analitica. Marco Nanni (ed.). ((online))
  10. ^ [1] Dictionary of the Philosophy of Mind
  11. ^ Anthony Kenny What is Faith? pp9-10

The Principia Mathematica is a three-volume work on the foundations of mathematics, written by Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell and published in 1910-1913. ... The Reverend Professor (John Stephen) Keith Ward (born 22 August 1938) is a British cleric, philosopher, theologian, and scholar. ... Is Religion Dangerous? is a book by Prof Keith Ward FBA examining the questions: Is religion dangerous? Does it do more harm than good? Is it a force for evil? Looking at the evidence from history, philosophy, sociology and psychology, Ward focuses on the main question at issue: does religion... Mary Midgley, née Scrutton, (b. ... identity theory is a regularly published, webzine of literature and culture edited by Matt Borondy from Austin, TX, established in 2000. ... Sir Anthony John Patrick Kenny (born 1931) is an English philosopher whose interests lie in the philosophy of mind, scholastic and ancient philosophy, the philosophy of Wittgenstein and the philosophy of religion. ...

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