In response to last week’s post about contradictions, a reader who goes by “skholiast” (who has his own blog, Speculum Criticum Traditionis) pointed me to the interesting work of analytic philosopher Graham Priest, author of works with provocative titles like “What is so bad about contradictions?” Priest advocates a position that he calls dialetheism, from the Greek for “two truths,” according to which a belief or statement and its opposite can both be true – even at the same time and in the same respect, directly contradicting Aristotle’s classical law of non-contradiction. He concludes the article with this provocative claim: “So what is so bad about contradictions? Maybe nothing.”
Dialetheism is easy to mock. Indeed, the first I’d heard of it, and the only time I’d heard of it before skholiast’s post, was in two of Ryan Lake’s Chaospet comics that made fun of it. Lake’s comics note apparent problems with dialetheism: if nothing is bad about contradictions, as Priest suggests, then doesn’t that basically allow one to say anything at all? Doesn’t one then just immediately solve every hard problem without having to think about it, by saying (as Lake’s character Nester does) that “the mind both is and is not the brain”?