Monday, September 10, 2012

[PL 211] Colbert says "syllogism" on The Report

Colbert asks whether not knowing that one is beautiful can make one beautiful.

He argues:
  1. If not knowing that one is beautiful is what makes one beautiful, then once one is told that one is beautiful, one ceases to be beautiful.
  2. But it is not the case that one ceases to be beautiful once one is told that one is beautiful.
  3. (Therefore) It is not the case that not knowing that one is beautiful is what makes one beautiful.
What do you make of Colbert's argument?


  1. I don’t agree that once one is told there are beautiful, they cease to be beautiful. We as human beings have many beautiful qualities that we are blind too. But being told about them doesn’t make them go away. We tend to not listen to what others tell us and believe what we already think of ourselves. In the reading, “Fixing Belief,” Cahn states “Most of our beliefs…rest on the tacit acceptance of current attitudes or on our own unreflective assumption.” It’s incredibly tough to changes ones views especially ones views on themselves. But even if our views have changed about ourselves the beauty within doesn’t cease. The band one direction point was trying to tell everyone that they are beautiful even if they can’t see it. But that doesn’t make the people who feel or look at themselves as “Beautiful” less or not beautiful.

  2. I agree with the latter two portions of Colbert’s argument, in that knowledge of being beautiful has nothing to do with actually being beautiful. It is similar to the notion of logic in which actual ‘being’ is in its own class but the concept and word ‘being’ is not in the class of being. The same idea holds true to the fact that the definition of beauty is in a different class than actual beauty. Therefore, Colbert’s argument shows a paradox, much like the famous paradoxical barber: the barber is the only person in town who cuts hair and cuts the hair of everyone who does not cut hair; if the barber cuts the hair of everyone in town who doesn’t cut hair, yet he is the only person who cuts hair, does he cut his own hair or does he get it cut by someone else or does he not even cut hair? The answer truly is unknown because of the flaw in the argument. Just like the Barber analogy, this Colbert argument regarding beauty is paradoxical and is a faulty argument because it can be interpreted ambiguously and arbitrarily.

  3. I agree with Colbert's argument. In essence, just because one is not aware of something does not mean it does not exist. In addition, making them aware of it does not make it cease to exist nor change its current existence.


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