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Ishmael effect


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The claimed ability of some philosophical theory to escape from the fate to which it condemns all other discourse. The effect was named by the 20th-century Australian philosopher D. C. Stove after Ishmael's epilogue to Moby Dick: ‘and I only am escaped alone to tell thee’. This is something it must have been impossible for him to do, given the tale he tells. ‘It is (absolutely) true that truth is relative’; ‘we ought to think that there is no such thing as thought’; and ‘the one immorality is to believe in morality’, would be examples of doctrines that require the effect. See also peritrope.

Subjects: philosophy.


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