Daniel Dennett: the Vanquisher of “Deepity” Religion—and Poetry?

The Daniel Dennett deepity slide that Jerry Coyne took a picture of here is one that I wrote into my notebook (I was at the same conference). A deepity, according to Dennett, “is a proposition that seems to be profound because it is actually logically ill-formed.”

My question: Doesn’t Dennett’s deepity construction render just about all symbolic or paradoxical language suspect? In other words, is it really a good idea for atheists to set upon the poetic in such a dismissive fashion—and show impatience for it? For example, wouldn’t these famous sayings be rendered “deepities” under such a definition?:

“I measured out my life in coffee spoons.” (T.S. Eliot)

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.” (attributed to Jesus)

“The arc is long, but it bends toward justice.” (Martin Luther King)

“What is the sound of one hand clapping?” (Zen koan)

Paradox and symbol exercise the mind in ways that might bring forward deep structures, or evoke the human spirit to a hopeful cause, or drive the imagination into an encounter with the sublime, or help us intuit the ontological mystery (the mystery of being). Do atheists really want to be the dismissers of such poetics? If a trope doesn’t have a readily obvious or available analog or target (as in Eliot’s “I measured out my life in coffee spoons”), shall it safely be ignored as nonsense?

In short, will you destroy the metaphorical villages to save them from religion?

And isn’t the universe already a huge deepity? Isn’t Dennett, well, late to the game? Atheists, for example, believe that the mind reduces to matter. This idea is almost certainly a deepity that appears to connect two things that are utterly ill understood, mysterious, and different from one another, even as it actually tells us very little. The explanation offered by atheists (such as it is) to the connection between mind and matter breaks down rather quickly when put under scrutiny. Atheists also believe that matter reduces to, well, nothing. Matter has always been, or it leaped into existence from physical laws that were just there (for no apparent reason). That too is a deepity. Looked at too closely and such atheist assertions start to haze into improbability, paradox, and nonsense too.

Talking about matter as an endpoint to explanation ends up driving us into the same deepity territory that theists drive into when they start talking about God. “There is no floor to the universe / but we walk the floor” (the poet AR Ammons).

Is the wise atheist move Wittgenstein’s: silence?

In any case, people living in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

Oh, and what does one make of particle physics in such a Dennett scheme? Is the particle/wave function of light a deepity? Must there be some reductive logical primacy that renders the paradox only apparent? Is that part of the atheist faith too, to deny the deepity qualities in quantum physics, and the mysteries at the heart of being? And if not, why does physics get to keep its deepities, even as human language must surrender its deepities for Dennett’s tidy formulations of what constitutes the permissable and rational in thought? 

And one more thought: maybe humans use “deepities” in language precisely in the effort to speak to the ontological mystery itself. To not address the ontological mystery with deepities is to fundamentally mispeak to it. In other words, to pretend that the universe is not itself an ontological deepity is to miss its strangeness. It is akin to trying to send the perfect love letter that sets into words all that is contained by your love. Nothing quite works, so you write it again and again.

The universe is the veiled lover that we are trying to speak, write, and sing to.

I know, that’s a deepity too. It appears to say something about the universe, but when you look closely at the logic of it, it turns to jello, right?

Welcome to the jello factory:

Oh, and just one more thought (this time, I promise!): could somebody offer me just one example of symbol usage in literature, or some sublime lines of poetry (or poetic language of any sort) that doesn’t function as a deepity (by Dennett’s definition)? Is, for example, this William Blake poem a deepity? (Forgive the line break mistakes, I’m quoting from memory.):

“O rose, thou art sick.
The invisible worm that
flies through the night
in the howling storm
has found out thy bed
of crimson joy and
his dark secret love
does thy life destroy.”

What’s the rose, what’s the worm, what’s the night, what’s the storm, what’s the bed, what’s the love, what’s the life? Dawkins once called Blake an “obscurantist.” Is he right? Shall we show Blake to the door?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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27 Responses to Daniel Dennett: the Vanquisher of “Deepity” Religion—and Poetry?

  1. Scott says:

    Supposing a physicist granted your premise that deepities do exist within physics, couldn’t she just reply that that’s why she still has a job? Physics as a discipline exists to understand and I’ve never heard a physicist claim that our understanding is complete and total (some have stated it never will be). So, there really can’t be a deepity problem in physics, since physicists, unlike some religious people, aren’t complacent about what it is they know.

  2. santitafarella says:

    Scott:

    I think (though I certainly could be wrong about this) that most physicists have come to accept the particle/wave duality of light as not merely apparent, but as real, and not reducible to a linear explanation. If I’m not mistaken, I think that most physicists have jobs (including theoretical physicists) working from the assumption that the ontological mystery at the base of light (that it is both particular and spread out or dispersed at the same time, however conventionally illogical that is) is a fact to be worked with, not deconstructed into conventional Aristotalian category terms. In other words, I think that most physicists accept in silence (to borrow from Wittgenstein) the Alice in Wonderland quality at the heart of the quantum and consider it somewhat of a folly to devote one’s career to denying it.

    Of course, there may be some physicists committed to, and as you say, not complacent about, the problem quantum paradoxes pose for logic. But the fact is that the universe appears to have properties that resist the forms of logic that Dennett is insisting upon in our use of language, and so it might be argued (as I have done above) that religious and poetic language function precisely as forms of address to the universe’s ontological mystery (which is paradoxical).

    If Dennett rejects the very premise that the universe is really paradoxical in anything more than appearance, then obviously my argument fails from his vantage (and perhaps yours). But Dennett’s argument for resisting deepities also fails for me, because he is presuming (in advance of argument) that the universe is not paradoxical or mysterious, and I think, at its most fundamental level, that the evidence points otherwise.

    The dream qualities of the universe require address with dream languages.

    —Santi

    • James Dion says:

      I believe you’ve hit the nail square on the head. By my understanding of Dennett’s work, the universe is mechanical and ultimately discernible without the need for “mysterious”ness to fill in our knowledge gap. Consciousness is mechanical; language, rhetoric, logic have evolved by a process akin to natural selection. I think your use of quantum theory like a magic wand to support your notion that the universe is ultimately paradoxical offers no answer to a curious mind. Metaphor and sublimity are the perfectly acceptable mind-friut of evolution.

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  4. Jonathan says:

    Santi,

    It isn’t that the universe is mysterious; it is that there are mysteries in the universe. It isn’t that the universe is paradoxical; it’s that to the untrained observer, there appears to be paradoxes. The truth is that there are only answered and unanswered questions regarding observed phenomenon.

    Through the rose tinted glasses of poetry, yes, the universe seems paradoxical but only because of the attempt to answer unanswered questions without the use of science. In science, sometimes the best answer is “I don’t know” because it allows us to continue further in our search for the answer.

    When delivered, deepities are an avenue for falsehoods to exist, yet they seem profound enough for some people to believe them to be true. Deepities, when posed as being true statements are themselves dishonest. They may not be lies so to speak, but they aren’t the truth.

    If the universe appears mysterious or paradoxical to you, one can assume that you don’t understand the science behind it. Deepities form in the place of the answer “I don’t know” when the answerer feel that not having an explanation is unacceptable.

    • bobtheantman says:

      It is precisely that the cosmos is mysterious, or perhaps more accurately stated, that existence itself is a mystery, in that existence, or being (as many philosophers have articulated), is inherently paradoxical and absurd, see “The Myth of Sisyphus” (Camus). That physicists have recognized the reality of this intrinsic paradox in their observations of quantum particles, wave-particle behavior of light, particle entanglement, masslessness of photons, and other paradoxes which defy logical, linear explanation, including the singularity itself, only serves to confirm what artists have long intuited about existence, and which the poets in particular have examined and contemplated most vigorously. Existence, specifically the existence of the cosmos, is a mystery not because it has yet to be explained or made rational. It is a mystery because in its very essence, it is inexplicable, beyond reason, indeed irrational, absurd, illogical, outside explanation. Existence is not an as-of-yet-undiscovered fact which can be brought into the light of understanding, or subject to logical methodology in order to demystify it as with some natural phenomena. It is an irreconciliable incoherence, a fact which logic and the scientific method cannot, and do not, attempt to explain. The issue here is precisely that the cosmos is a mystery, and not that it merely contains mysteries, which implies potential solutions to those mysteries. No, the cosmos is the mystery, the only mystery, in some sense. That poets have utilized paradox, antinomy, ambiguity, enigma, absurdity, incongruity, and oxymoron to express the inexpressible in contemplation of existence does not invalidate or delegitimize or diminish poetry in any way. Quite the contrary, it is the recognition of the fundamental, incomprehensible absurdity of existence, with its essence as a mystery, by the poet which not only validates poetry as a vehicle for critically examining at least the aspects of the mystery which lie within the grasp of human understanding, but also elevates poetry to a cognitive and epistemological status equal to any other, in terms of its indispensable contribution to human understanding.
      The Surrealists contribution to the question of the legitimacy of art in an age of rationalism is decisive here, in my view. Surrealism was materialist, and most of its leading thinkers materialists. Yet Breton decisively refuted the notion that materialism supercedes or diminishes the language, purpose, or primacy of art as paradox in an investigation of reality, the cosmos, and existence. As he so brilliantly points out in his Surrealist Manifesto “Memory alone arrogates to itself the right to excerpt from dreams, to ignore the transitions, and to depict for us rather a series of dreams than the Dream itself.” To contemplate the inherent absurdity of existence requires a language and a semiotic which science cannot sufficiently and solely offer. Dennett is quite right to denounce and ridicule that which is cloying, trite, debased, and smug in the dissemblings of the superficial, and his neologism “deepity” seems to me to be a splendidly incisive designation for the nonsense which is encountered far too often in this age of moral relativism and psuedo-science. But the absurd as a semiotic in art and poetry is indispensible to a society which seeks a greater, deeper, richer accumulation of knowledge and understanding about who and what we are in the cosmos.

  5. santitafarella says:

    Jonathan:

    You’ve made a point that is well taken, and I take it to heart. You have hit the nail on the head—the difference between an agnostic like me and (I presume) an atheist like yourself. I think that the divide between atheists and agnostics lies precisely upon the subject of mystery. To the atheist, a mystery is assumed to be ultimately illusory—a problem that is simply yet to be solved. It’s the same Scooby Doo rerun, again and again (the flies change, but the shit is the same). But to an agnostic like myself, who is open to the possibility that some mysteries might exist qua mysteries, I get a different electricity from some mysterious things. I like feeling the sublime spookiness and bamboozlement of mysteries, even though I’m not a theist. And agnosticism gives me a space for a certain kind of Romantic aestheticism. And agnosticism also gives me a way to have contact with the mysterious without identifying it (or even being sure that it is really there). The mysterious requires just one thing: not belief, but merely the possibility of belief. I’ve meant to write a post on this subject (how mystery divides atheists from agnostics like myself), and maybe your observation will prompt that. Do you have any other thoughts on this divide?

    By the way, I recognize that not all agnostics are open to the mysterious. A lot of agnostics share, more closely than I do, atheist premises and don’t think about the mysterious all that much. I’m talking about my peculiar brand of agnosticism in which I genuinely feel that I don’t know whether or not mind precedes matter at the beginning of the universe, or whether mind can be reduced to matter. Simply keeping the question open gives the universe (for me) a certain electrical crackle of possibility that atheism is inclined to resist on principle.

    —Santi

  6. T Ray says:

    None of your examples are deepities.

    “deepity”: a statement that has two meanings, one of which is true but superficial, the other which sounds profound but is meaningless.

    Dennett’s used the example, “Love is just a word.”
    Like any other word “love” is just a word. But like most words “love” has many quantitative and qualitative variations in meanings none of which qualify as being JUST a word.

  7. santitafarella says:

    T Ray:

    By your understanding of Dennett’s meaning, then PZ Myers’s destruction of a Catholic wafer has been justified by atheists with a deepity:

    “A Catholic wafer is just a cracker.”

    All referents signify in ways that can (if we are imaginative) radiate into a multitude of meanings. When we control this process, we call it a metaphor (“my love is a rose”). When we let it run amok we call it a symbol (as in, “O Rose, thou art sick, the invisible worm . . .”). What’s the rose, what’s the worm, what’s sick, what’s the howling storm? They’re all functioning symbolically.

    My point with Dennett is that a whole lot of sentences are logically “ill formed”—you see them most obviously exemplified in poetry—and not just in his narrow examples. To dismiss just one class of these types of sentences as “deepities” begs the question. Why not ban all language that functions in similar ways?

    —Santi

    • bobtheantman says:

      While I agree with your larger point I must take issue with your example utilizing some aspects of trope to make your point. The use of symbol is not the allusive referential run amok, or uncontrolled, like some unpredictable monster set loose in a forest. It is the purposely and carefully directed introduction of a word inherently fertile (yet often dormant) within its linguistic and connotative surroundings, in order that an expansion of its normally understood sense into the wider associative realm may take place, to cultivate the lengthening, broadening, deepening of the resulting tree of imaginative relationships which symbol and metaphor evoke. Blake’s sick rose, invisible worm, howling storm, are not referents run amok in the imagination of the reader, nor in the aesthetic dimensions of the poem itself. They are carefully controlled explosions, like fireworks, with definitive, decisive, and catalytic pictorial and semiotic properties designed to effect a specific range of possibilities and intrigues in the mind of the reader. These metaphors, these symbols, have an overlapping, intertwined relationship on the spectrum of trope, often functioning in both capacities simultaneously. In fact, Blake’s rose is as much metaphor as Burns’ rose, with no distinction as symbol here, and certainly not run amok, neither as paint on the canvas of the work, nor as seed in the soil of the readers mind. Besides, nowhere in the spectrum of trope does symbol contain contain a random quality or designation or attribute, at least to my knowledge.

    • waaltje says:

      Dennett never said anything about banishing deepities, he just gives us an analytical tool.
      That some poetic utterings can be described as deepities doesn’t mean they have to be banished. What you do with the results of an analysis is up to yourself.
      Feel free to reject the poetic as meaningless or dive head first into the mystical, whatever you prefer.

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  9. I’d agree with you that under the strict definition of “deepity” that poetry and metaphor become rather silly and it does destroy it though in listening to many of Dan Dennett’s lectures I’m very sure that’s not his meaning. Phrases like the ones you quoted at the beginning of the article become a deepities when they’re actually used as or in a logical argument for or against something. As metaphor they make sense in being used to convey a message because it causes people to associate different things with the subject at hand. But if I ask “How will the meek inherit the Earth?” and you say “Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.’” and don’t follow it up with any qualification, or most likely a long winded explanation, that’s a deepity.
    I think the same goes for virtually all the other quotes except the Zen koan.

    Koans are unsolvable conundrums set to a Zen student (who is usually unaware that they are unsolvable) by a master and are meant to be meditated upon and truly realize that they cannot solve them as part of the process of eliminating the ego. My two favorites are, “What was your name before your parent’s were born?” and “What is nothingness?”

    Karen Armstrong in ‘The Case for God’ put forward “God is no being at all.” That is a deepity because she’s not talking about metaphor or poetry, she’s actually trying to make a logical argument of which the logical equivalent is “No being at all is God.” “God is no being at all” is used as some deeply profound thought while “No being at all is God” would be considered what Armstrong calls “crude atheims.”

  10. Kay says:

    I’m not sure how a group of individuals such as yourselves, most of whom seem otherwise intelligent or at least highly articulate, are entirely missing the implied context in which an expression of an idea must be presented in order to be dubbed a deepity, according to Dennett.  I guess he should have explained that part to you, or included an explanation in the definition of the word.  I suppose also that connotations associated with words should be listed in the DICTIONary.  Perhaps you simply failed to watch the lecture it its entirety, or maybe you have a hard time putting things into context given minimal contextual information. 

    First of all, the entire deepity tangent was partially a JOKE, within the context of the lecture.

    Second, to the large extent that he IS serious, he’s really only concerned with deepities when they are substituted for real reasons in defense of dangerous ideas either in the context of serious debate, or when employed as memes to perpetuate ignorance and discourage rational discourse.  NOT when they’re being brilliantly arranged in a context in which they can be appropriately appreciated, such as song or poetry.

    Dennett has also asserted, very strongly in fact and on multiple occasions (as have his equally hated “Horseman” friends) that he’s all for the appreciation and preservation of things like art and poetry.  He’s all for the idea of non-creationist sense of awe, wonder and natural beauty.  EVEN the appreciation of beautiful art that was originally created in a theistic context, so long as we presently separate it from reality just as we ALREADY do with many forms of art and poetry.

    Furthermore, (in response to an above post) there is nothing INHERENT to atheism itself which, per se, forces a rejection of the “mysterious”.  The debate there is purely semantic in many instances and a matter of failed communication.  The reality is that all the atheists I know, I including myself, keep alive all of those feelings of sublime bewilderment, or “mystery” and surrender.  We simply revel in the complexities and often counter-intuitive nature of nature. We also happen NOT to CHOOSE to call it “mystery” on the basis of the connotations of the word “mystery” which relate to many varieties of nonsense.  The feelings and experiences on an emotional level, however, are nonetheless equivalent to reveling in the “mystery” that is the realm of the currently unknown.

    Finally, the element of truth that DOES exist with regards to atheists rejecting mystery is originally based in individual personalities which cause them to experience that emotional change as a response to accepting atheism. However, the personality is the ultimate rejector of “mystery”, and contributes to the atheism, NOT the other way around.

    I guess, as usual, the unreasonable simply cannot be reasoned with.  That is why we atheists are starting to focus the “roots”.  We’re working on implementing educational policy to get to your children, or at least to your grandchildren, before it’s too late for them as well.

    Good job on completely missing the scope of the lecture and focusing mostly on your rather embarrassing misconceptions.

    Regards

    • santitafarella says:

      Kay,

      Your comment about getting to my children (I have daughters who are 4 and 7 year old) is a bit creepy. Both my wife and I are agnostics, not theists, and we don’t need any help from you in raising our kids to be critical thinkers and skeptics of religion.

      And doesn’t your comment constitute one long deepity? Atheism and rhetorical appeal really shouldn’t go together, should they? You ask me to change my mind about something, but you, as a strict materialist, must (to be consistent) reject libertarian free will, right? Afterall, if the mind is an epiphenomenon of matter and reducible to non-intentional and determinate (or quantum random) atoms, how can the mind’s course ever be changed from where it would run in any event? Surely you don’t believe, as an atheist, in mental-to-physical causation. That would be believing in spooks. And if you don’t believe in mental-to-physical causation, then how can you ever imagine that your mind (or mine) is responsible for its choices or its changes in direction?

      By logic, atheism and libertarian free will do not go together. And so atheist persuasion—an attempt at changing minds—is funny (or ought to be). It’s a deepity (something logically ill-formed by a superficially eloquent espouser).

      —Santi

      • artm says:

        Dear, Santi

        Free will isn’t necessary for “persuasion” to work.

        Just like it’s a property of some wood to catch fire when rubbed, it is a property of (some) minds to change when presented convincing evidence to their contrary. But one has got to rub to take the credit for the result.

    • Anonymous says:

      Awesome comment Kay. Before I saw your comment, I had started to fear that nobody in this discussion would make these points explicit. But you did. Good.

  11. santitafarella says:

    Artm:

    Then you are defining persuasion in a very odd way. Is the billiard ball persuaded to change its position by contact with another billiard ball? To persuade someone of something is to appeal to her mental faculty of judgment—a mental faculty in which, presumably, a self presides (as a judge presides in a court).

    But if there is no actual self presiding—or if that self is not free—then what is being persuaded? A brain calculation that suddenly makes me—whatever “me” is—want to vote for Sarah Palin?

    And who (or where) is the self that “takes credit” for achieving the act of persuasion?

    —Santi

  12. artm says:

    Persuasion, for a determinist, is similar to rigging a dice. We take an honest dice and somehow change its center of mass so it falls to a particular side more often then to the others. We still think of it as the same dice but changed. In response to the same situation (being thrown) it reacts differently (“decides otherwise”). When persuading people we use language to move their mental center of mass.

    • santitafarella says:

      Artm,

      I guess, if we are going to be naturalists and not dualists, that your description has to be right, but there is a curious similarity between your views and BF Skinner’s, don’t you think? Skinner used to try to talk about humans without reference to their mental states. He wanted to influence behavior, as it were, strictly from the outside. He called this moving “beyond freedom and dignity.”

      But it seems intuitively wrong to deny our inner selves and freedom (and reduce them to illusions). They’re so obviously there.

      Aren’t they?

      What happens to the criminal justice system—and justice as a concept?

      —Santi

  13. artm says:

    Firstly, determinism doesn’t imply naturalism. Non-material deterministic mind could just as well hop from one mental state to another without freedom.

    Example. I stumbled upon this article while looking for something else. I have recently watched the talk where Daniel Dennett introduced the term “deepity” so I decided to read the article and the discussion. Watch me use libertarian language while remaining determinist. Can I explain why I decided to read? Yes, because I was interested (mental state) in your criticism of Dennett’s rhetoric. So, my decision was influenced by this mental state (among my other states). Could I have “chosen otherwise”? No, because if I could, why haven’t I? I could only have chosen otherwise if some of my mental or physical state were different. Thus I conclude that the choice is never free, it is always predetermined. It’s just that I don’t know the outcome upfront – by the time I would analyse all the data that predetermines my decision – I would have made the decision already.

    Second, the concepts of justice and responsibility assume the intuitively obvious concept of free will. Just like the concept of sunrise assumes the intuitively obvious geocentric model. (I’m trying to answer both argument from intuition and argument from necessity of justice here).

  14. santitafarella says:

    Artm,

    Well, that’s interesting. I’ve never heard free will compared to the geocentric model. I don’t see any way out of your position absent dualism.

    And yes, it’s logically possible to be a dualist and a determinist (ask any Calvinist). But I think it’s very tricky to ever be something other than a determinist if you are a naturalist.

    But without free will the concept of justice (and a lot of other things in our language) loses its coherence. I’m just wondering whether one might wish to entertain dualism (of the non-determinist variety) simply as a way out of being in the awkward position of calling yourself (essentially) a Calvinist without God.

    I realize that would entail believing in spooks (at least of the variety that seem to live in the bodies of human beings).

    I notice the sun is rising this morning. But, looked at another way, it has never, in all of history, ever risen at all.

    —Santi

  15. artm says:

    I don’t see how dualism would save free will. A mental part of a person that makes it do things, has to make a decision. This decision will be based on the state of the mental part of a person. This state is a result of a chain of previous decisions and states all the way back to the moment the mental person has emerged.

    Other members of society might be compelled to alter this mental person’s state (“persuade” it). They can only do that if they believe in cause and effect – that their actions, perceived by the body of the person and transmitted into the mental realm, will affect its state. So you’ve got to be at least a little bit determinist to even attempt to persuade someone. Otherwise it’s just a gamble: whatever you do the other side is “free” to ignore you.

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  17. Stefan Olafsson says:

    It seems to me that “I measured out my life in coffee spoons” is not in fact a deepity, because it’s not put forth as a statement of truth; it’s clearly meant to be poetic language. The “love is just a word” expression, however, is different because it’s sometimes meant as a statement of truth: “there is no such thing as love.” In Dan’s definition that deepity “is a proposition that seems to be profound because it is actually logically ill-formed”, the ‘proposition’ part includes this element of truth. “I measured out my life in coffee spoons” is not a proposition. “Love is just a word”, if the implied meaning is true, is very profound. However, it is very ill-formed seeing as how ‘love’ is conglomerate of emotions that are in fact quite evident in our day to day lives. It is also a use-mention error; the statement would be true if the word ‘love’ was in quotations. “‘Love’ is just a word” is indeed a very true statement. Hence, ’tis a deepity.

    The Martin Luther King and the Zen expressions, in my view, also fit the above explanation. The Jesus one is a bit different. It is indeed a statement of proposed truth, but it lacks the apparent ambiguity of the “love is just a word” expression. Surely, if the Jesus expression is true it’s implications are profound, but again, it seems to be something that will either come to pass (be revealed, become true) or not. So, time will reveal whether it is true or not, but the “love” expression’s alleged truth is quickly thwarted.

  18. Anonymous says:

    “And isn’t the universe already a huge deepity?”

    — No. Glad I could help.

  19. BM says:

    “For example, wouldn’t these famous sayings be rendered “deepities” under such a definition?”

    No they wouldn’t. None of them. They aren’t even equivocations let alone deepities. Equivocation is the switch in the meaning of a word in an argument in order to come to a false conclusion. A deepity is a special kind of equivocation that flips in this way in the same sentence. It is structured to make you come to a false conclusion. You are supposed to take a deepity literally to feel an amazed sense of profundity at the false conclusion it is pointing at.

    “I measured out my life in coffee spoons.” (T.S. Eliot)
    “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.” (attributed to Jesus)
    “The arc is long, but it bends toward justice.” (Martin Luther King)
    “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” (Zen koan)

    None of these use equivocation. They use metaphor and you are not supposed to take them literally.

    T.S.Eliot is using metaphore to say his life is so meaningless that his morning coffee was the highlight of the day. BTW, if you do have coffee every day you can measure out your life that way, because 365 days of coffee is a year. However you are not supposed to take it that literally. Nor is there any profound claim in it. Unless you think that measuring your lifespan by morning coffee cups is profound.

    Both Jesus and MLK are making a claims with no equivocation that might be true or might not be. I’m not even sure that “inherit the Earth” is a simile. If only the meek survive in a very true sense they would have inherited the entire earth. It isn’t clear what his is claiming and it doesn’t give a feeling of profundity unless you assume it is true. So the profundity lies in Jesus’s suppposed authority to make such claims.

    “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” is just a stupid ambigous question that requires clarification. You can’t clap your hands with just one hand. All you can do with one hand to produce noise is to slap or hit some object. Or it could be referring to one hand in a pair of hands clapping. So which is it? This is certainly not a deepity. Maybe someone would think it is profound if they were stupid and didn’t understand abiguity.

    “And isn’t the universe already a huge deepity?”
    No. It’s not a deepity. Not an equivocation. Not even a sentence.

    “Isn’t Dennett, well, late to the game?”
    No he noticed an interesting category of fallacy.

    “Atheists, for example, believe that the mind reduces to matter.”
    That has nothing to do with deepities.

    “This idea is almost certainly a deepity that appears to connect two things that are utterly ill understood, mysterious, and different from one another, even as it actually tells us very little.”
    This sentence is false on many levels including its assumptions. It doesn’t in fact meet the definition of a deepity. That is not the definition of a deepity. Not sure why you’d expect a sentence that is structured like “Marbles reduce to glass” to tell you much of anything.

    It’s pretty clear you are way out of your depth here, and can’t even understand a simple well explain concept, and are unable to categorize things.

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