Perhaps the most famous paradox discovered by the Greek philosophers is that of ‘the liar’. A Cretan says that all Cretans are liars: if what he says is true, then it is false. More simply, consider: ‘This sentence is false.’ If it is true it is false, if false, true. The ancients took this paradox seriously, since if the concept of truth is inherently contradictory, as the paradox implies, then all discourse, all argument, all rational decision-making, takes place in a void. One ancient philosopher, Philetas of Cos, in his despair at finding a solution, committed suicide. More recently, the great logician Alfred Tarski used the paradox to argue that truth can be defined in a language only through a ‘meta-language’ with an outside vantage-point. In Tarski’s view ‘This sentence is false’ is not a possible sentence. But I have just written it!
(Roger Scruton, “The Russian Way of Lying,” The Spectator, March 2017).
Political correctness is about denial, usually in the weasel circumlocutory jargon which distorts and evades and seldom stands up to honest analysis.
It comes in many guises, some of them so effective that the PC can be difficult to detect. The silly euphemisms, apparently harmless, but forever dripping to wear away common sense.
(George MacDonald Fraser, “The Last Testament of Flashman’s Creator: How Britain has Destroyed Itself,” Daily Mail, January 5, 2008).
Political correctness is more than a ridiculous set of opinions; it’s also — and primarily — a tool of government coercion. Not only does it tilt any political discussion in favor of one set of arguments; it also gives the ruling class a doubt-expelling myth that provides a constant boost to morale and esprit de corps, much as class systems did in the days before democracy. People tend to snicker when the question of political correctness is raised: its practitioners because no one wants to be thought politically correct; and its targets because no one wants to admit to being coerced.
(Christopher Caldwell, “The French, Coming Apart,” City Journal, Spring 2017).
The word that is written is a thing capable of permanent life, and lives frequently to the confusion of its parent. A man should make his confessions always by word of mouth, if it be possible.
(Anthony Trollope, The Claverings. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1866, p. 183).
BELLADONNA, n. In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues.
(Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary. Cleveland and New York: The World Publishing Company, 1911, p. 36).
Thinking is not speaking. It is a very difficult thing to discover and acquire the language of one’s own thought. Each separate individual is very likely original in his thought. But between his thought and its fit expression the well established common language stands like an enormous, impenetrable wall, like an all-devouring monster, like a steam-roller levelling everything down. Only the whole strength of love, only a loving strength, and strength joined to humility and devotion can make it personal, and yet in such a way that it remains the common tongue.
(Theodor Haecker, Journal in the Night. New York: Pantheon Books, 1950, p. 100).
What does the mind enjoy in books? Either the style or nothing. But, someone says, what about the thought? The thought, that is the style, too.
(Charles Maurras; quoted in F.O. Matthiessen, The Achievement of T.S. Eliot. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1935).