or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

It Beggars The Imagination

I read Jim Kunstler's Clusterfuck Nation every Monday, because it's nice to have a bracing dose of the-world-is-going-to-hell every once in a while, but here's a sentence from his most recent posting:

And of course, it begs the question: why was such a response even required?

This guy writes actual books which get published. I sincerely hope his publisher has a good editorial staff, because he makes so many mistakes. Spelling errors, grammatical errors, runaway hyphens, typos, the lot. Really, I do like to read his stuff, but he's an awfully sloppy writer.

"Beg the question" does not mean what Kunstler thinks it means, alongside far too many other people. It's a debater's term, a logical fallacy in which one assumes the point which one is supposed to be proving. How do we know the Bible is the true and inerrant word of God? Because it says so in the Bible. But in attempting to prove that the Bible is true, we are assuming the truth of the Bible.

Perhaps it's just time to give up on it. Perhaps "beg the question" is a lost cause, and we should all just engage in an act of collective amnesia and pretend it never meant what it used to mean, and just means "pose the question" or "ask the question", and we can all say "circular reasoning" where we used to say "begging the question" and be happy in our ignorance.


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