8 Responses to Delightfully Ambiguous Quotation

  1. Anon73 April 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm #

    Unintentionally hilarious.

  2. Robert Paul April 23, 2009 at 7:42 pm #

    That’s excellent. I can’t believe no one noticed that before.

  3. Roderick April 23, 2009 at 11:53 pm #

    That reminds me: Telos has the same ambiguity in Greek that “end” has in English. In the Physics Aristotle says something like “The poet was being unintentionally humorous when he wrote [of a dead man], ‘He has now reached the telos for which he was born,’ for it is not just any final stage that counts as a telos [i.e., in this context, i.e. a telos-FOR-WHICH], but only the best.”

  4. lukas April 24, 2009 at 12:54 am #

    Isn’t that sentence a direct quote from the Politeia? I seem to remember reading something equally ambiguous there.

  5. Sheldon Richman April 24, 2009 at 8:49 am #

    In 1978, at the first Cato Summer Seminar, I scrawled on the blackboard, “The end of politics is the end of politics.” Of course, by one notion of politics, this isn’t true.

    • Roderick April 24, 2009 at 11:21 am #

      Yeah, and “end” in the goal-oriented sense is likewise ambiguous between goals actually pursued and goals that should be pursued.

  6. Black Bloke April 24, 2009 at 11:45 am #

    “Liberty ought to be the direct end of your government.”—Patrick Henry

    I remember reading this quote to a friend from here: http://blog.mises.org/archives/006628.asp And my friend was puzzled until I explained the ambiguity away.

  7. Black Bloke April 24, 2009 at 12:02 pm #

    Thomas Paine’s use of the phrase from Common Sense is a bit more involved but works just as well: Wherefore security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows , that whatever form it thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.

    A true end of government will be security.

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