Deepity

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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:

"Deepities

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 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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