In an earlier post, I discuss one good reason to reject the solution to the Liar paradox that says that it’s meaningless: it means calling some other sentences, like “This sentence is in Japanese” and “This sentence has five words” meaningless, though they seem to be obviously meaningful.
Anyone who defends this solution has to bite the bullet on these sentences. It’s a tough bullet to bite, but at first it doesn’t seem implausible. Maybe those sentences only seem to be meaningful, though they aren’t really.
I came across three sentences today that convince me that rejecting all self-referential sentences is, in fact, utterly ridiculous. I found them in Tim Urban’s newest amazing article on Elon Musks’ newest mind-blowing venture, Neuralink. (By the way: go read it. Now. Elon Musk is turning humanity into the Starchild from the end of 2001 and you’re reading about loopy sentences? Get out of here!)
Here are the three sentences:
That’s why we still communicate using technology Bok invented, it’s why I’m typing this sentence at about a 20th of the speed that I’m thinking it, and it’s why brain-related ailments still leave so many lives badly impaired or lost altogether.
Right now, your eyes are making a specific set of horizontal movements that allow you to read this sentence.
None of this stuff will take any effort or thought—we’ll all get very good at it and it’ll feel as automatic and subconscious as moving your eyes to read this sentence does to you now.