Comments on “Against “really””

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Maybe Logic

Miikka 2010-10-19

Do you happen to be familiar with the work of author and occultist Robert Anton Wilson? This material just seems to be very similar to his ideas, what he liked to call “Maybe Logic”. Use even used the words “in some sense” in quite a similar way.

I cannot really make a full comparison right now, but while reading this page that I felt like RAW was speaking from beyond the grave. ;)

Best wishes,

Sri Syādasti, Robert Anton Wilson, and "really"

David Chapman 2010-10-23

Hi, Miikka,

Sorry that your comment took several days to appear; I had mis-configured something in the software.

Yes, I read The Illuminatus! Trilogy<img src="" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" /> when I was 17, and it had a huge impact on me. I haven't looked at it in ages, but from memory I still think it is an eccentric masterpiece. (His later work I'm less enthusiastic about; in particular, I don't care for quantum mysticism.)

I had to think for a minute to figure out what the connection was... I am guessing you are thinking about the statement that "All affirmations are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true and false and meaningless in some sense." RAW took that from the Principia Discordia<img src="" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />, which calls it "Sri Syādasti", quite accurately: it's a postulate of Jain logic. (I suspect that it derives historically from Nagarjuna's Catuṣkoṭi or Four Extremes, which are closely related to the subject matter of this site—but I'm only guessing about the history.)

I think the Sri Syādasti is probably true, in some sense... but what I was saying here is slightly different. The Syādasti is at the level of propositional logic, where the point about "really" is at the level of classical rhetoric.

I think I'd like to say that "Nothing means anything" is just plain false, as an unqualified statement. So how does "Nothing really means anything" differ? It says that there is some sense in which "Nothing means anything" is true, and it is the right sense. What it doesn't say is which sense, and why that one is the "right" one. I think there is a sense in which "Nothing means anything" is true; but you need to say more before it stops being false.

... Ah, I have just discovered that Maybe Logic may be a separate, though related, thing. A form of radical agnosticism. I haven't read about that, so far as I can recall, but it's consistent with his other writing.

I am reminded somewhat of the work of Robert Ellis. His applications of the logic of the Middle Way between eternalism and nihilism, which he takes to be radical agnosticism, are the closest previous work to the material I'm presenting on this site.

Best wishes,


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