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ETpro's avatar

Do you enjoy self referential or self-denying loops?

Asked by ETpro (34472points) March 17th, 2010

Consider the statement, “This sentence is false.” If the writer is telling the truth, then he is lying. If he is lying, then he’s telling the truth. The same goers for “I always lie.” There are tons of such strange loops possible in language.

The odd thing is that any suggestion of a loop drives some people to distraction. It’s like any sort of feedback or self referentialism threatens their entire world. Bertrand Russell, certainly a famous thinker, even went so far as to write a treatise on how language should be used in a hierarchy so one word never references itself, only words beneath it in level. This is of course absurd, because he used the word word for itself in the sentence saying not to ever do that.

Russell hated loops because they skewered a grand theory of sets he was working on. He though he was closing in on an underlying theory of sets that would quantify all human thought, but then ran into the conundrum produced by the set of all sets that don’t contain themselves, and his theory went down the loophole that produced.

But Russell is not alone in his aversion of loops. There is one set of thinkers and average Joes alike who seem to have a natural, inborn aversion to any strange loop. and there is a second set who just adore them and look for them as mental play.
Which set are you in, or do you belong to some other set outside of either of those? Why do you think some of us are loopy, and some avoid any twist back into self referential thought? Do you have any favorite linguistic loops to add?

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4 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

Pulling the rug out from under me will cause me to slit my own throat!

ETpro's avatar

@Cruiser Humm, convenient information for me to file away for our next contentions debate. :-)

Cruiser's avatar

@ETpro I really don’t need that kind of help…I do just fine on my own! lol!

ETpro's avatar

@Cruiser Ha! No arguement on that. You and me too, brother. :-)

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