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Mega X.exe
Forum Nun
6449 posts

Many authors introduce their books with a caution: it is inevitable that somewhere in this book there is an error. This is a common claim in prefaces. But do the authors that write these claims believe them or not?

If the author is asked of each specific claim in the book Is this an error? then he will say No. The author believes every claim that he makes, he believes of each individual claim that it is true.

This means, though, that the author believes that every claim in the book is true. A collection of claims, none of which is an error, contains no errors. The author believes that his book is a collection of such claims; he believes that it contains no errors.

Yet the author also believes that somewhere in the book he will have made a mistake. Aware of his fallibility, he believes that not every claim in the book is true, that somewhere in the book there is an error.

What is really odd about this is not that authors have inconsistent beliefs, it is that the author is being perfectly rational in believing both that his book does and does not contain errors.

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13th Zodiac Sign: Snake
529 posts

Well, once again this looks like a question of an object or subject's ability to be divided into smaller parts and retain the same qualities. Though it is true that if asked, the author will tell you that each individual claim is true, he realizes that even he has made assumptions and used the work of others to make his claims. To base your claims on the work of another is always dangerous, because you cannot ascertain the truth or untruth of their information without testing it yourself. (i.e., though you may make several hypotheses about planetary movements, you rely on information gathered from previous astronomists, physicists, and others.) Since this would take far too long to check every source for itself, assumptions are made, and assumptions can and are wrong. Many astrologists in 1300 based their studies on the belief that the world was flat... and we saw how that worked out.

Another thing, people who would be reading a book and thinking about this would be prepared by the preface. After all, is it not a paradox that even if the author's claims are all correct, one of them is not? His preface claim that there is an error is correct if there are no errors; it is simply that statement that is the error. So, knowing that one such book is going to contain several of the paradoxes often found and heard in every day life, people find it perfectly rational, because everyone deals with these paradoxes all the time; so long as it is not brought to the forefront, nobody notices, and life continues as usual.

In short, most of life is a paradox, as you have proved. Something as simple as getting a shave, writing the preface to a book, washing your face or talking to your friends can produce a paradox; the problem is, we are too ignorant of them to realize it, and so remedy the problem without realizing that there is one.


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Not A Feminist
836 posts

I have never seen this note in a book. ...And who says he would answer no to each individual passage? As well, it is not inevitable that there is an error, as there may well be no errors. If he says there is an error, it is simply a stement he believes could possibly be true, it is not nessecerily truth in itself,m and he likely doesn't believe that it IS conclusively true but only that it could be.

And on this subject, no one cares...

[Edited on 7/24/2005 by God]