The MacLamity

The News That Stays News, Reported Live

Thursday, August 18, 2005

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Here's a fascinating tidbit from The New Yorker: "And how could one prove the opposite: that a given statement is hopelessly unclear, and hence bullshit? One proposed test is to add a 'not' to the statement and see if that makes any difference to its plausibility. If it doesn't, that statement is bullshit. As it happens, Heidegger once came very close to doing this himself. In the fourth edition of his treatise What Is Metaphysics? (1943), he asserted, "Being can indeed be without beings." In the fifth edition (1949), this sentence became 'Being never is without beings.'"

Christopher Hitchens once similarly cited a study that used different editions of an Isiah Berlin that showed Berlin changing, say, "From Airstotle to Hume..." to "From Archimedes to Spinoza" as if all that mattered was the first marker of the range began with the impressively initial initial of A. Philosophers, beware revisions of your work!