Thursday, October 27, 2011

Begging the question...

"Begging the question" and "raising the question" are not synonyms.

This is the most useful thing I took away from an ill-advised course in undergraduate philosophy (and yes, I recognize that it is not particularly useful).

"Begging the question" is a logical fallacy where the premise implicitly or explicitly assumes the proposition to be proven - it means the reasoning will be circular.

This mistake happens all the time and it doesn't bother me because language is defined by how it is used, and the important thing is that people understand what you're trying to communicate. Here is a gem that I couldn't overlook though:

Ralph Fiennes on the decline of the English language:
"Our expressiveness and our ease with some words is being diluted so that the sentence with more than one clause is a problem for us, and the word of more than two syllables is a problem for us," he said. [...] "I think we're living in a time when our ears are attuned to a flattened and truncated sense of our English language, so this always begs the question, is Shakespeare relevant?"
The irony is so delicious. Get off your high horse Ralph Fiennes.

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