Articles of Christian faith are Axioms

It will be no surprise that [Lewis Carroll] extended this intellectual concept outside of mathematics: in 1897, for example, he wrote that the articles of Christian faith

are what would be called in Science “axioms, ” … quite incapable of being proved, simply because proof must rest on something already granted. … (Letters 2: 1122)

His extension of the concept to language is demonstrated in a passage from an appendix to Symbolic Logic, in which he wrote that

if I find an author saying, at the beginning of his book, “Let it be understood that by the word ‘black’ I shall always mean ‘white,’ and that by the word ‘white’ I shall always mean ‘black, ‘” I meekly accept his judgment, however injudicious I may deem it.

Carroll envisions an author, like a mathematician, setting out his axioms at the beginning of a work (though he clearly deems it “injudicious” to arbitrarily invert such a well-respected custom).
        The notion that conventions are axiomatic enables more than Carroll’s insights into structural linguistics: it brings a sense of arbitrariness to all social behaviour.

Darien Graham-Smith, p. 38~39


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