Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0014909, Wed, 14 Feb 2007 22:40:16 EST

Re: A syllogism and an epitaph

In a message dated 15/02/2007 03:09:01 GMT Standard Time, skb@BOOTLE.BIZ

God is love
Love is blind
Therefore, God is blind.

No cat has five tails
I am no cat
Therefore, I have five tails.

I hope our editors may allow me to discuss these "syllogisms", since they
help in our discussion of what makes Shade's "syllogism" false. SKB's account
seems unnecessarily complicated. Shade's "syllogism" is false simply because
it has the form:

All x are M; A is not an x; therefore A is not M. (It does not matter that x
is "other men" and A is "I" and M is "mortal".)

This is simply a false deduction. One can say only: All x are M; A is an x;
therefore A is M. Or: All x are M; A is not M; therefore A is not an x.

Of the two "pseudo-syllogisms" above offered by SKB, only the second is
false. The first is perfectly correct, provided that "love" is understood to mean
the same throughout, and that "blind" is understood throughout as having the
meaning it has in "Love is blind", namely "blind to faults".

If it were true that love is blind, then it would indeed be true that, if
God is love, then God too would be blind, in this sense of not seeing faults in
the beloved.

This conclusion, which has been correctly, syllogistically derived from the
premisses, should make us suspect that one of the premisses is false. And
indeed, the proposition that love is blind is surely false, as one cannot love
without knowing or "seeing" the beloved. Otherwise it is a fantasy, an

Anthony Stadlen

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