Saturday, January 16, 2010

By Means of a Cunning Semantic Subterfuge

video

Portraits From Memory (Bertrand Russell) a wonderful piece by Beyond The Fringe.




'Bertrand Russell: One of the advantages of living in Great Court, Trinity, I seem to recall, was the fact that one could pop across at any time of the day or night and trap the then young G.E. Moore into a logical falsehood by means of a cunning semantic subterfuge. I recall one occasion with particular vividness. I had popped across and had knocked upon his door. "Come in", he said. I decided to wait awhile in order to test the validity of his proposition. "Come in", he said once again. "Very well", I replied, "if that is in fact truly what you wish".

I opened the door accordingly and went in, and there was Moore seated by the fire with a basket upon his knees. "Moore", I said, "do you have any apples in that basket?" "No", he replied, and smiled seraphically, as was his wont. I decided to try a different logical tack. "Moore", I said, "do you then have some apples in that basket?" "No", he replied, leaving me in a logical cleft stick from which I had but one way out. "Moore", I said, "do you then have apples in that basket?" "Yes", he replied. And from that day forth, we remained the very closest of friends.'

From Jonathan Miller [St John's], 'Portrait from Memory', on the LP Beyond the Fringe (1962)

No comments:

Post a Comment