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Logic & Scientific Philosophy

What Would Socrates Say? – Julie

As he looks over Bonaparte’s unconscious body, deciding whether or not to kill him thus preventing war across Europe, Woody Allen ponders the insight of Socrates in the 1975 film, Love and Death.

As seen here…

PS. Please read this in a Woody Allen voice for optimum enjoyment.

“… but murder.
What would Socrates say?

All those Greeks were homosexuals…
Socrates is a man…
All men are mortal…
All men are Socrates
That must mean all men are homosexuals”

To fix this up in simpler syllogistic logic, we have two arguments, resulting in two conclusions to support a final conclusion of all men being homosexuals…

All Greek are homosexuals
Socrates is Greek
Therefore Socrates is a homosexual

Socrates is man
All men are mortal
is mortal 
Therefore all men are Socrates

Therefore all men are homosexuals”

Woody Allen, or rather Boris, ponders whether the murder of Napoleon Bonaparte is justified. If Bonaparte is killed, Boris will prevent many wars across Europe; however… murder? He begins to ponder possible insight of the great philosopher Socrates as to whether murder is for a cause is justified. Just to note, he mentions all those ancient Greeks were homosexuals (who probably took a house together up the creek). This leads into Boris’s conclusion that all men are homosexuals.

If all Greeks are homosexuals, and Socrates was Greek, Socrates must be a homosexual. If Socrates is mortal, and all men are mortal, all men must be Socrates. Since Socrates is a homosexual, and all men are Socrates, by default all men are homosexual. Now I am not a man; therefore I cannot confirm or deny this claim, but I will take a wild guess that it is factually false. This is due to the initial premise that all Greeks are homosexuals.

I am not a Greek, therefore I cannot confirm nor deny the homosexuality of each individual Greek. Since argument lacks factual correctness, this argument is not sound. However, it does not stop the argument that all men are homosexuals from being valid. The definition of validity consists of…

To say that an argument isvalid is to say that IF the premises were true, then the conclusion would NECESSARILY be true”

So… say all the premises are true… then the conclusion would necessarily be true; however, since validity is a function of form, to test the functionality of the form we test with a counter example!

All A are B
C is A
Therefore C is B

C is E
All E are D
C is D
Therefore all E are C

Therefore all E are B”

All TV stars are celebrities
Kim is a TV star
Therefore Kim is a celebrity

Kim is a Kardashian
Kardashians are unnecessary
Kim is unnecessary
Therefore Kardashians are Kim

Therefore all Kardashians are celebrities.

Alright, alright I get it. There’s Kim Kardashian… and Kim Kardashian… and Kim… Kardashian. Not all Kardashians are Kim, but it sure feels like it. However, this does not stop our ultimate conclusion to be true. Does this make our argument valid because our conclusion is (sadly) valid, even though our premises are false? If you think about our two conclusion drawn from our arguments as the premises, and our ultimate conclusion as the conclusion, wouldn’t our argument be valid? In that case if the premises were indeed all true, then the conclusion could be valid.

Since validity is all up to form, and the counterexample sees no fault, Boris’s conclusion that all men are homosexuals could be valid. None of us know the true sexual preferences of Greeks, or all men. Good job, Boris?

Although we know, obviously, Boris’s argument is not true. “Some men are heterosexual, and some men are bisexual , and some men don’t think about sex at all. They become lawyers.” (Woody Allen, Love and Death 1975) However, we see many a false argument in humor and comedy. Why? In comedy, wild and hysterical juxtapositions are made to show a common relation and make a point. And well in other words, “many a truth is spoken in jest.” (William Shakespeare, King Lear 1605)

Way to conclude in cliche.



3 thoughts on “What Would Socrates Say? – Julie

  1. Nice use of the counter example, Julie! Love how these examples are able to engage and explain so clearly. Excellent post!

    Posted by bryanjack | September 27, 2013, 4:30 am
  2. the first thing i read was all men are homosexuals well im counterpointing that i think and urrrm im saying this because i dont think that im a homosexual …….it just may seem it but im not so yaaa ^^

    Posted by deven113kong | September 27, 2013, 6:13 pm
  3. pleasure reading

    Posted by love with passion | January 15, 2014, 10:10 am

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