Saturday, March 09, 2013

grafitti, begging the question and rose-destroyer.

Layers of graffiti, stickers and other detritus have accumulated on the back of this telephone kiosk near the station. I don't know if it still contains a telephone but it provides an interesting canvas for fortuitous art.

An example of begging the question on Radio 4 a few minutes ago. It occurs in a piece of comedy dialogue, which goes something like this:
  Scene: a bookshop.
  Young woman customer: Have you a copy of Virginia Woolf's A Room with a View."
  Assistant: Who are they?
 Young woman: You haven't heard of Virginia Woolf! And this is a bookshop. Not  a fishmonger's."
Assistant: I hate fish.

A new neighbour is rooting up roses in her front garden. She ranges the gnarled roots on the wall. Anyone can have those for sculptures," she says. They have been much admired  by passers-by as long as I can remember. But who am I to complain?  She digs away. "I've planted a damson tree instead. I don't mind roses, but I hate growing them."


Roderick Robinson said...

I don't want to de-rail your heroic attempts to get to the bottom of begging the question, but isn't your example just a simple non-sequitur? On second thoughts I suppose it could be both. On third thoughts might begging the question always hinge on a non-sequitur. If so it would simplify the definition.

CC said...

Thinking the seller may be a tad hard of hearing?

Joe Hyam said...

RR I persist in trying to define the use of the expression because it always caused me trouble when I was young until I thought I had fathomed it. Now it seems that it has vanished from common usage. Here what I thought was its former use is illustrated by an exagerated piece of comedy dialogue which still seems to me to be an example of what I had come to understand. A more serious instance: The term was often used in argument as I recall. For example two people might be disputing moral issues concerning war.
A: To kill other human beings is without exception wrong.
B: All animals defend their territory: why shouldn't we?
A: But we're talking about morality, not territory. You're begging the question.
B: No I'm not. It depends what the question is. I'm only begging it if we first agree on the nature of the question.

CC He might have been. On the other hand he could just been one book short of a book shelf.