Deepity

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== Definition ==
 
== Definition ==
 
In his talk, ''[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_9w8JougLQ#t=30m15s The Evolution of Confusion]'', given at the AAI 2009 conference, Dennett described a deepity as follows:
 
In his talk, ''[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_9w8JougLQ#t=30m15s The Evolution of Confusion]'', given at the AAI 2009 conference, Dennett described a deepity as follows:
{{Quote|'''Deepities'''
 
  
A ''deepity'' is a proposition that seems to be profound because it is actually logically ill-formed.
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{{Quote|A ''deepity'' is a proposition that seems to be profound because it is actually logically ill-formed. It has (at least) two readings and balances precariously between them. On one reading it is true but trivial. And on another reading it is false, but would be earth-shattering if true.}}
  
It has (at least) two readings and balances precariously between them.
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He gives the statement "love is just a word" as an example of a deepity.
  
On one reading it is true but trivial.
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Read literally, this is true: the word "love" is the written (and spoken) representation of the emotion it is meant to describe, and thus "love" is merely a word. But, by definition, this is true of every word. So if the statement is read this way, it is trivial and uninteresting.
  
And on another reading it is false but would be earth-shattering if true.}}
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But if the statement were read to mean that the emotion described by the word "love" is itself just a word, that statement would be profound if it were true. But it isn't true.
 
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He gives the sentence "Love is just a word" as an example of a deepity. On one reading, the word "love" is merely a word, just like "cow" or "cheeseburger", but this is trivial and uninteresting. On the other reading, love itself (not the word, but the emotion) is not a word.
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[[Category:Philosophy]]
 
[[Category:Philosophy]]

Revision as of 22:13, 10 July 2011

Deepity is a term coined by philosopher Daniel Dennett, to describe a proposition that can be read as being either true and trivial, or untrue but would be amazing if it were true.

Definition

In his talk, The Evolution of Confusion, given at the AAI 2009 conference, Dennett described a deepity as follows:

"A deepity is a proposition that seems to be profound because it is actually logically ill-formed. It has (at least) two readings and balances precariously between them. On one reading it is true but trivial. And on another reading it is false, but would be earth-shattering if true."

He gives the statement "love is just a word" as an example of a deepity.

Read literally, this is true: the word "love" is the written (and spoken) representation of the emotion it is meant to describe, and thus "love" is merely a word. But, by definition, this is true of every word. So if the statement is read this way, it is trivial and uninteresting.

But if the statement were read to mean that the emotion described by the word "love" is itself just a word, that statement would be profound if it were true. But it isn't true.

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