Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Logical Fallacy of the Week, Week 45: Kettle logic

Kettle Logic (la logique du chaudron in the original French) is a type of informal fallacy wherein one uses multiple arguments to defend a point, but the arguments themselves are inconsistent.
The name derives from an example used by Sigmund Freud in The Interpretation of Dreams[1] and in his Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious[2]. Freud relates the story that a man who was accused by his neighbour of having returned a kettle in a damaged condition offered three arguments.

That he had returned the kettle undamaged;
That it was already damaged when he borrowed it;
That he had never borrowed it in the first place.
The three arguments are inconsistent, and Freud notes that it would have been better if he had only used one.
The Kettle logic of the dream-work is related to the what Freud calls the embarrassment-dream of being naked, in which contradictory opposites are yoked together in the dream.   Freud said that in a dream, incompatible (contradictory) ideas are simultaneously admitted.  Freud also presented various examples of how a symbol in a dream can bear in itself contradictory sexual meanings.  Editor's Note:  Was there anything that did not have sexual meanings to Freud? 

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