Common Linux Programs
shadoi at nanovoid.com
Thu Sep 14 14:58:59 MDT 2006
On Sep 14, 2006, at 9:12 AM, Shane Hathaway wrote:
> Dave Smith wrote:
>> Jason Holt wrote:
>>> t is for true, which does very little
>> But at least it does it successfully, which is more than we can
>> say for false.
> The man page for "false" presents an interesting logic puzzle. The
> intent of the false command is to "do nothing, unsuccessfully",
> which I understand in natural language, but it must be a mess to a
> logician. There is no success nor failure if nothing happens. If I
> don't play a game, and instead do nothing, I have neither won nor
> lost that game. So nothing can fit that interpretation of "do
> nothing, unsuccessfully", regardless of what the documentation
> might claim.
> That must be the wrong interpretation. Perhaps it means the false
> command should be unsuccessful in its attempt to do nothing. But
> if I am unsuccessful in my attempt to do nothing, apparently I must
> have done something. Like when I want to go to sleep, I try to
> think about nothing, but then I end up thinking about thinking
> about nothing, which is something. I can only truly be successful
> at doing nothing if I cease to exist. Even the rock that stubbed
> my toe did something, as did the space debris that reflected
> light. So apparently, everyone and everything fits the description
> "does nothing, unsuccessfully".
> Since that interpretation allows the false command to exist, I can
> argue that it is correct. However, everyone and everything also
> fits, so perhaps false is a synonym for everyone and everything.
> Everyone and everything includes this argument, so this argument
> matches the description for false. This argument disproves itself.
> Ok, third interpretation: the word "nothing" is not intended
> When it says "do nothing", it really means "do as little as
> possible". While this is probably the best match for the natural
> language interpretation, it's an abomination in logic. If I argue
> that "nothing" and "something" are interchangeable, it becomes
> impossible to prove or disprove anything, since so many proofs
> require nonexistent things to stay nonexistent. Now if I say
> nothing travels faster than the speed of light, I'm really saying
> that something does. If nothing dies before it is born, then
> something actually does. If nothing disproves this interpretation,
> then something does. Yet another self-disproving argument.
> So the false command has no stable foundation. It must be
> deprecated. Start the petition! Also, memorize its description
> because it could be a great defense against killer robots.
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