Posts Tagged ‘meaning’

Intended paradox

June 16, 2013

“I’m very witty!” someone wrote in a comment box in response to the criticism “You have no wit.”

“I’m very witty” might seem at first a witless and therefore unpersuasive response, unless it is sarcastic, in which case it is actually witty. If it’s sarcastic, the meaning intended to convey is that author isn’t witty, and therefore it implies that the comment itself also is not witty. The joke is, the author knows it’s not witty; yet that’s what makes it witty. So if it’s witty, it’s a lie; if it’s a lie, it’s not witty: a liar paradox.
But if the comment is merely false, then there’s no paradox — just a reply by someone who thinks he’s witty but is too dull to know he’s not witty, and hasn’t enough wit to say so wittily.
So if it’s a lie, then it is a meta-witty paradox; if an honest falsehood, it’s just stupid.

What’s interesting is that the intention or speaker’s attitude or character of mind induces the paradox, not the words alone. The paradox depends on who’s speaking, liar or dolt, wit or fool.
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