Thursday, May 18, 2006

Paradox of Analysis

Perhaps pointless to go through how this was arrived at. But it seemed important and was a result of searching for the exact words of an oft-quoted quote from Charles Fort, often thrown up by people who think it demonstrates Darwin was wrong.

Darwinism: the fittest survive. What is meant by the fittest? Not the strongest; not the cleverest – weakness and stupidity everywhere survive. There is no way of determining the fittness except in that a thing does survive. “Fitness,” then, is only another name for “survival”. Darwinism: that survivors survive.

I saw it many years ago in a little gem I bought and have enjoyed on and off since: Vicious Circles and Infinity: An anthology of paradoxes.


Language, Communication and the Paradox of Analysis: Some Philosophical Remarks on Plato’s Cratylus, a clear exposition of the problem which even the novice philospher or logician could handle.

It immediately, in the first few sentances, looked like the sort of thing I would like to study. Though rather logic complicated, it does answer some of the questions VCAI asked. Another web page which looks as if it is going to be helpful is Conceptions of Analysis in Analytic Philosophy, a supplement by someone or other to an entry in the Stanford Encylopedia.

The nub of the paradox of analysis is : no analysis can be both correct and informative. Under this, it is then argued by example: no definition of ‘good’—whether naturalistic or not—is possible.


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