When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.” — Yevgeny Yevtushenkotumblr_lvwtyzctyt1r6nm6ao1_r1_500

“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.” — Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

“What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

“Readers silently associate the printed text with aural ideas (the voice of a human speaker).” – PLATO Stanford

Argument from silence

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
See also: Argument from ignorance
Marco Polo‘s travel journals are silent on the Great Wall of China, which some believe is evidence of his never having visited the country.[1]

To make an argument from silence (Latin: argumentum ex silentio) is to express a conclusion that is based on the absence of statements in historical documents, rather than on presence.[2][3] In the field of classical studies, it often refers to the assertion that an author is ignorant of a subject, based on the lack of references to it in the author’s available writings.[3]

Thus in historical analysis with an argument from silence, the absence of a reference to an event or a document is used to cast doubt on the event not mentioned.[4] While most historical approaches rely on what an author’s works contain, an argument from silence relies on what the book or document does not contain.[4] This approach thus uses what an author “should have said” rather than what is available in the author’s extant writings.[4][5]

An argument from silence may apply to a document only if the author was expected to have the information, was intending to give a complete account of the situation, and the item was important enough and interesting enough to deserve to be mentioned at the time.[6][7]

Arguments from silence, based on a writer’s failure to mention an event, are distinct from arguments from ignorance which rely on a total “absence of evidence” and are widely considered unreliable; however arguments from silence themselves are also generally viewed as rather weak in many cases; or considered as fallacies.[1][8]

A positivist account of the existence and content of law, along any of the above lines, offers a theory of the validity of law in one of the two main senses of that term (see Harris, pp. 107-111). Kelsen says that validity is the specific mode of existence of a norm. An invalid marriage is not a special kind of marriage having the properttumblr_lvwtyzctyt1r6nm6ao1_r1_500y of invalidity; it is not a marriage at all. In this sense a valid law is one that is systemically valid in the jurisdiction — it is part of the legal system. This is the question that positivists answer by reference to social sources. It is distinct from the idea of validity as moral propriety, i.e. a sound justification for respecting the norm. For the positivist, this depends on its merits. One indication that these senses differ is that one may know that a society has a legal system, and know what its laws are, without having any idea whether they are morally justified. For example, one may know that the law of ancient Athens included the punishment of ostracism without knowing whether it was justified, because one does not know enough about its effects, about the social context, and so forth.


(…)”The acusmata indicate that the Pythagorean way of life embodied a strict regimen not just regarding religious ritual and diet but also in almost every aspect of life. Some of the restrictions appear to be largely arbitrary taboos, e.g., “one must put the right shoe on first” or “one must not travel the public roads” (Iamblichus, VP 83, probably from Aristotle). On the other hand, some aspects of the Pythagorean life involved a moral discipline that was greatly admired, even by outsiders. Pythagorean silence is an important example. Isocrates reports that even in the fourth century people “marvel more at the silence of those who profess to be his pupils than at those who have the greatest reputation for speaking” (Busiris 28). The ability to remain silent was seen as important training in self-control, and the later tradition reports that those who wanted to become Pythagoreans had to observe a five-year silence (Iamblichus, VP 72). Isocrates is contrasting the marvelous self-control of Pythagorean silence with the emphasis on public speaking in traditional Greek education. Pythagoreans also displayed great loyalty to their friends as can be seen in Aristoxenus’ story of Damon who is willing to stand surety for his friend Phintias, who has been sentenced to death (Iamblichus, VP 233 ff.). In addition to silence as a moral discipline, there is evidence that secrecy was kept about certain of the teachings of Pythagoras. Aristoxenus reports that the Pythagoreans thought that “not all things were to be spoken to all people” (Diogenes Laertius, VIII. 15), but this may only apply to teaching and mean that children should not be taught all things (Zhmud 2012a, 155). Clearer evidence is found in Dicaearchus’ complaint that it is not easy to say what Pythagoras taught his pupils because they observed no ordinary silence about it (Porphyry, VP 19). Indeed, one would expect that an exclusive society such as that of the Pythagoreans would have secret doctrines and symbols. Aristotle says that the Pythagoreans “guarded among their very secret doctrines that one type of rational being is divine, one human, and one such as Pythagoras” (Iamblichus, VP 31). That there should be secret teachings about the special nature and authority of the master is not surprising. This does not mean, however, that all Pythagorean philosophy was secret. Aristotle discusses the fifth-century metaphysical system of Philolaus in some detail with no hint that there was anything secret about it, and Plato’s discussion of Pythagorean harmonic theory in Book VII of the Republic gives no suggestion of any secrecy. Aristotle singles out the acusma quoted above (Iamblichus, VP 31) as secret, but this statement in itself implies that others were not. The idea that all of Pythagoras’ teachings were secret was used in the later tradition to explain the lack of Pythagorean writings and to try to validate forged documents as recently discovered secret treatises. For a sceptical evaluation of Pythagorean secrecy see Zhmud 2012a, 150-158.” (…)

(…)”What about the pupils of Plato and Aristotle? As discussed in the second paragraph of section 5 above, Eudemus, who wrote a series of histories of mathematics never mentions Pythagoras by name. Arguments from silence are perilous but, when the most well-informed source of the fourth-century fails to mention Pythagoras in works explicitly directed towards the history of mathematics, the silence means something.”(…)


(…)”In the same manner, the existentialist philosophers who dedicated the most attention to the articulation of meaning (Sartre and Merleau-Ponty) insist on the essentially diacritical essence of the aesthetic element in a given composition: an element has aesthetic significance on the basis of its relation to the other elements, rather than owing to any substantial meaning of its own. It follows that, for example, in a painting the pleasure derived from a particular colour in isolation from the rest of the work is not ‘aesthetic’ in the strong sense but only in a lower sense: as a pleasure for the senses only. This also implies that often the meaning and aesthetic power of a composition (a text, a painting and so on) rests just as much on what is not said or not shown; what lies in-between the elements of the composition, rather than on the elements explicitly shown. The existentialists all insist that meaning is largely to be found in a certain form of silence. In the case of a novel:

… the literary object, though realised through language, is never realised in language. On the contrary, it is by nature a silence and a contestation of speech. The hundred thousand words aligned in a book can be read one by one without the meaning of the work emerging; meaning is not the sum of the words, but its organic totality (Sartre 1948a, 30).”(…)

(…)”A metaphor Sartre and Merleau-Ponty employ frequently is that of the two sides of the artwork, comparable to the two sides of a mirror. The artist only sees his or her own work from the inside; he or she lives the artwork in a sense, since the expressive power is rooted in an idiosyncratic form of being-in-the-world. For the work to become an objective entity with a manifest meaning, the understanding and imagination of the audience needs to reconstruct the meaningful silence in between the traces. And this understanding cannot be passive, since the truly expressive meaning involves a new form of being-in-the-world. The spectator or reader is called upon to effectuate the same original mode of being-in-the-world: “If he is a writer, that is, if he knows how to find the ellipses, elisions and caesuras of conduct, the reader will respond to his appeal and meet him at the centre of the imaginary world he animates and rules” (Merleau-Ponty 1964b, 89). Once again, a key feature of aesthetic experience is communication, the ‘echo’ that a subjective attitude to the world finds in others.”(…)

(…) “Furthermore, the existentialist definitions of meaning as negativity, and of expression as ‘coherent distortion’, mean that stylistic achievement (the ability to let new sense be revealed) relies as much on the choice of words and syntax as on the ‘silences’ and omissions that define an expressive gesture.”(…)

tumblr_mej5u6zifh1r6nm6ao1_r1_500(…)”This seems to introduce some important differences amongst the existentialists, since Merleau-Ponty, for instance, claimed that all art forms function like language. But Merleau-Ponty agrees with Sartre on the important differences between art forms. The Prose of the World established that there was a single source behind all acts of expression, which made them commensurable to language, only to acknowledge the specificity of language in a manner similar to Sartre’s. For example, the “voices” in painting — a metaphor for the ideal content of painting — are ‘voices of silence’ that speak only an ‘indirect language’ (the titles of Malraux’s famous studies on the history of painting). That is to say, they remain attached to their specific materiality, making the work a self-enclosed world. In Merleau-Ponty’s repeated metaphor, every painter starts the history of painting afresh (1960, 309–311) because the same visible world calls for an infinite number of expressive variations, each singular in its determinate coherence. The history of painting, therefore, is indeed made up of constant echoes and criss-crosses, with each generation revisiting the visual themes and techniques of the past generations, but the communication amongst the works are haphazard, indirect, and cannot be accumulated. There is no progress in the history of painting. In language, on the other hand, meanings acquired from the past are sedimented in current meanings and allow for the dialectic of spoken and speaking speech discussed earlier (Merleau-Ponty 1964b, 97-113). This means that the material of literature carries with it the sedimented historical experiences of the lifeworlds it speaks about. There is no progress in literature either, not in a sense comparable to scientific progress, but the novel, simply by using the language of the lifeworld it arises from, is a direct witness of the broader historical narrative in which it is embedded. As a result, it can portray ethical and political situations very powerfully.”(…)


tumblr_m9flssvnpg1r6nm6ao1_500“In the earlier books my argument traveled downward from the most exalted to the humblest categories, taking in on this downward path an ever-increasing number of ideas which multiplied with every stage of the descent. But my argument now rises from what is below up to the transcendent, and the more it climbs, the more language falters, and when it has passed up and beyond the ascent, it will turn silent completely, since it will finally be at one with him who is undescribable (MT 1033 C).”

“Together with scripture, the Fathers, and the entire ancient tradition, he provides a framework and a vocabulary for ordinary spirituality as well as mystical practice, especially for describing the approach of the soul through inactivity of all knowledge to a state of unification with God “in the brilliant darkness of a hidden silence” (MT 1); and his complex negative theology transmits a theory of signification that in many ways is so self-subversive and necessarily deceptive at each level (both kataphatic and apophatic) that for future generations after his own time it will hardly be possible to translate his works without also writing commentaries upon them.”


“Let us now return to our question: can there be dataless information? GDI does not specify which types of data constitute information. This typological neutrality (TyN, see above) is justified by the fact that, when the apparent absence of data is not reducible to the occurrence of negative primary data, what becomes available and qualifies as information is some further non-primary information μ about σ constituted by some non-primary data (D2)–(D5). For example, if a database query provides an answer, it will provide at least a negative answer, e.g., “no documents found”. This is primary negative information. However, if the database provides no answer, either it fails to provide any data at all, in which case no specific information σ is available—so the rule “no information without data” still applies—or it can provide some data to establish, for example, that it is running in a loop. Likewise, silence, this time as a reply to a question, could represent negative primary information, e.g., as implicit assent or denial, or it could carry some non-primary information, e.g., about the fact that the person has not heard the question, or about the amount of noise in the room.”

“Secondary data. These are the converse of primary data, constituted by their absence (one could call them anti-data). Recall how you first suspected that the battery was flat: the engine failed to make any of the usual noise. Likewise, in Silver Blaze, Sherlock Holmes solves the case by noting something that has escaped everybody else: the unusual silence of the dog. Clearly, silence may be very informative. This is a peculiarity of information: its absence may also be informative. When it is, the point is stressed by speaking of secondary information.”

tumblr_mkee2wyhw11r6nm6ao1_r1_500“The fourth and final section of Phenomenology explores these three themes, starting with a revision of the concept of the cogito that avoids reducing it to merely episodic psychological fact or elevating it to a universal certainly of myself and my cogitationes. Merleau-Ponty argues that we cannot separate the certainty of our thoughts from that of our perceptions, since to truly perceive is to have confidence in the veracity of one’s perceptions. Furthermore, we are not transparent to ourselves, since our “inner states” are available to us only in a situated and ambiguous way. The genuine cogito, Merleau-Ponty argues, is a cogito “in action”: we do not deduce “I am” from “I think”, but rather the certainty of “I think” rests on the “I am” of existential engagement. More basic than explicit self-consciousness and presupposed by it is an ambiguous mode of self-experience that Merleau-Ponty terms the silent or “tacit” cogito—our pre-reflective and inarticulate grasp on the world and ourselves that becomes explicit and determinate only when it finds expression for itself. The illusions of pure self-possession and transparency—like all apparently “eternal” truths—are the results of acquired or sedimented language and concepts.”



tumblr_m59s56lihk1r6nm6ao1_500“Bhāvaviveka goes on to explain that Nāgārjuna employed sentential negations in MMK 1.1, because he was trying to establish a kind of “non-conceptual cognition,” that is, an insight that cannot be expressed in words. The scope of this non-conceptual insight is everything that is capable of being cognized. In other words, Nāgārjuna’s insight was that everything that one thinks one knows, every explanation one thinks one has to account for one’s experiences, is flawed and must ultimately be abandoned. In saying this, Bhāvaviveka is consistent with a number of important statements in MMK and VV. Nāgārjuna had laid emphasis on the claim that the Buddha had dealt out two kinds of truth, a quotidian transactional or conventional truth (vyavahāra-satya, saṃvṛti-satya) and a truth concerning the highest goal (paramārtha-satya), namely, nirvana. Of these, only the transactional truth is capable of being articulated in language. The highest goal, consisting of a silence of the mind in which there is no conceptual thinking, is naturally inexpressible in language, since language is necessarily bound up with concepts. Some form of this view was shared by all Mādhyamikas. Where they differed with one another was on the issue of how the teachings of Buddhism, which are communicated in language, relate to the highest goal of Buddhism, which lies outside the scope of language.”




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