Contact Us    
Axioms and Reaxioms

Reaxioms, please

by Everett Wilson
October 20, 2011

Bookmark and Share
Axioms and Reaxioms

 Axiom. (Dictionary.com)  A self-evident truth that requires no proof. 

Axiomatic. (The Free Dictionary) Of, relating to, or resembling an axiom; self-evident.

Reaxiom.  (re-AX-iom)  new.   noun. 1.   A definitive contradiction in the indicative mood of a false axiom.  2.  A definitive redaction in the indicative mood of a carelessly stated axiom.   

Regular readers of this column recognize that its scholarship is informal, but since formal scholarship   resorts to terms like "axiomatic," the columnist does not expect to apologize for his informality any time soon. If the term "axiom" has meaning, which it does indeed, then "resembling an axiom" has none at all. Nothing can resemble an axiom; it is either an axiom or it isn't.  

Both formal scholars and journalists love to add syllables to nouns, ostensibly for clarity but often for confusion.  So when I see the word "axiomatic" I sense the whiff of a false,  or at least  careless,. axiom; the writer  is trying to present  an arguable point as a  self-evident truth.  Why? Because it often works.   

My  response has been to join the game and add a syllable of my own, so don't bother to look up "reaxiom" beyond the top of this page;  I just invented and defined the word  today.  Yes, it is a pun, but with a serious point; and I plead my modesty in adding just  one syllable, not the usual  two, three, or four:    axiomatic, axiomatical, axiomatically.

 I naively thought that  "axiom"  had never  been  predicated, but quickly learned I was wrong. "Axiomatization" is older than I am.  I'm only 75 years old, but the word is 80. 

This train of thought leads to an axiom of my own: "The longer the words used in an axiom, the less self-evident is the truth it affirms."  But the train of thought itself  is a sideline.  Back to my  point.     

 I invented "reaxiom" in the hope that thinking people will  stem the flow of false or careless  axioms by asserting reaxioms— either definitive contradictions that truly are self-evident, or definitive clarifications that eliminate ambiguity. 

Now I am in a box, because you expect me to provide examples—so that, as soon  as I provide a relevant one, I  may  be accused of bias.  So I won't—not from politics, religion, economics, or war. Instead I will resort to the artifice of  critics in more cruel times  when they wanted  to keep their heads or their jobs. .I refer you to an imaginary story you already know, with a punch line you can probably quote. It's most familiar version was written by Hans Christian Andersen. 

 An emperor was so fond of beautiful clothes that he was a patsy  for swindlers who told him they were going to make him magical clothes of unsurpassed beauty—so beautiful indeed that fools in their stupidity could not even see  them.The emperor could not see them, because they did not exist; but he pretended to,   because he was not about to taken for a fool.  Nobody else wanted to be taken for a fool either, so it was accepted as an axiom—a self-evident truth-- that the emperor had a suit of clothes that fools could not see. So the emperor finally presented his unclothed self on  parade in his new clothes, and all  the spectators agreed on the beauty of the clothes they could not see.  

Then   a child   provided the reaxiom, a definitive contradiction that has never been topped. Here is the final paragraph of the story as written by Andersen:    

" 'But he has nothing on at all,' said a little child at last. 'Good heavens! listen to the voice of an innocent child,' said the father, and one whispered to the other what the child had said. 'But he has nothing on at all,' cried at last the whole people. That made a deep impression upon the emperor, for it seemed to him that they were right; but he thought to himself, 'Now I must bear up to the end.' And the chamberlains walked with still greater dignity, as if they carried the train which did not exist."







Post a Comment

Send Us Your Opinion
(Comments are moderated.)
Your Name:*

Your E-Mail Address:*
(Confidential. Will not be published.)


Note: In order to control automated spam submissions, URLs are no longer permitted in this form.

Please type the letters you see above.


Bookmark and Share

Real Things
A novel.
Published January 2, 2008
Temporarily Unavailable

Real Things first appeared in serialized form on the Partial Observer in 2001. It is now available in print for the first time.

Over thirty years after a senseless crash redefined his life, Greg Thompson and his family finally learn why.

More Information
RSS Feed for Everett Wilson: RSS Feed for Everett Wilson
Sign up to receive an e-mail notice when new articles by this author are published. Your address remains confidential, and you may cancel at any time. A confirmation email will be sent.

Your e-mail address:
po Books
Now Available!

Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke,
by Hal Evan Caplan.

A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.

More Information.

More by Everett Wilson
Necessary Things, A Companion and Sequel to Real Things
Available from Amazon Books, Amazon Kindle, and Me!
by Everett Wilson, 2/16/15
Until Barrett is Free, Neither Are We
Freedom of the Press is not a whim of the state
by Everett Wilson, 2/26/14
Why the United States Will not Get Competent Universal Health Care in my Lifetime
Six Obvious Reasons
by Everett Wilson, 11/15/13
An Open Letter to Congressman Jeff Fortenberry
Clean Sweep Time
by Everett Wilson, 10/2/13
An Open Letter to Congressman Jeff Fortenberry
Clean Sweep Time
by Everett Wilson, 10/1/13
Excerpt from my new novel, Scoundrels and Fools
Chapter 5: Ellis Johnson
by Everett Wilson, 7/12/13
The Rev. Marjorie Drickey's Last Message to a Dying World
And all the trumpets sounded for her on the other side.
by Everett Wilson, 2/14/13
» Complete List (151)

RSS Feed for Everett Wilson: RSS Feed for Everett Wilson

Recently Published
View Article Nor Easter Alert
A troubling forecast for a nation in need of God
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 3/16/18
A Tribute to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
Looking back to where it all began PLUS; There Goes the Neighborhood
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 3/9/18
A Prayer for the Washington State Legislature
Remembering Billy Graham's example
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 3/2/18
A Sentry of the Past Century
Remembering Billy Graham; PLUS, Cross Words
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 2/23/18
Another St. Valentine's Day Massacre
When will the craziness stop?
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 2/16/18
Speaking of the Winter Olympics
A prayer for our athletes and our world
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 2/9/18
A Call for Respect
Lessons from the State of the Union
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 2/2/18

Get the Partial Observer's
'recently published' headlines via RSS.

RSS Feed for Recently Published PO Articles    What is RSS?
Reproduction of original material from The Partial Observer without written permission is strictly prohibited.
The opinions expressed by site contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the editors.
Copyright ©2000-2018 partialobserver.com. All rights reserved.
Home · Site Map · Top