beg the question?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by F1Z, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. F1Z Senior Member

    Arabic
    "Creative persons are typically linked to one another in chains, and appear as
    contemporary rivals. But is there not a sense in which networks of creativity
    beg the question?"

    There are no questions in the context! I do not understand the second sentence so please explain it for me. Thanks.
     
  2. morzh

    morzh Banned

    USA
    Russian
    It may be the formal meaning of "begging the question".

    So, maybe, it is that the fact that we consider proven, the existence of the networks of creativity, may not be fully proven, and in some sense they do not actually exist?
     
  3. DocPenfro

    DocPenfro Senior Member

    Little England
    English - British
    "Begging the question" : "The fallacy of founding a conclusion on a basis that as much needs to be proved as the conclusion itself" (Fowler's Modern English Usage)
    This is a much-misused and much-misunderstood expression. No actual questions need to be involved, instead it is implying that your proposition is based on dubious premises.
    Having said that much, I'll have to admit that I don't understand your quoted text either.
     
  4. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    To be honest, I don't understand the comment.

    "Beg the question" has two different meanings: an older (original) and a newer one.
    Neither seems to apply to the quote you give. Perhaps we need more context?
     
  5. F1Z Senior Member

    Arabic
    Here is context.
     
  6. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Thank you for the link, F1Z.

    I'm afraid I still don't understand what the author means in that context by "beg the question":(.
     
  7. DocPenfro

    DocPenfro Senior Member

    Little England
    English - British
    I think the writer is using the expression "beg the question" in Loob's newer sense, i.e "require that you ask a question, as an inevitable response to the proposition or argument that you have just received", rather than in my (Fowler's) original one above.
    The writer then answers his/her implicit question with his next sentence: "Another factor is presupposed ... "
    In this case, the unspoken question would have been something like: "What is the cause of the outburst of creativity in a particular place and time, such that ideas can be handed on from one individual to another?"
     
  8. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    The author says,
    (My emphasis) The question is begged by the presupposing of the generation of creativity (without proof or justification).

    "Another factor is presupposed..." should be read as "They have presupposed that there is a generation of creativity."
     
  9. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I have to admit I don't understand the text either.

    However, the newer meaning of the expression arose because most people think it means "beg for the question" - i.e., requests for the question to be asked/answered.
     
  10. morzh

    morzh Banned

    USA
    Russian
    I've heard it many times, and the newer (incorrect) meaning is the only one I ever heard.
    Probably same story as with recently discussed "tantalizing" new meaning.
     
  11. F1Z Senior Member

    Arabic
    Thank you all. Yet, I'm a little lost. The apparent meaning, as noted earlier, is the newer incorrect one which is (beg for or expect a question to be asked). What is still unclear is who he/they is/are (who do beg the question) and what that question is. I'm aware some participants have said something about that above, but I do not seem to get it still. Any ideas?
     
  12. modulus Senior Member

    ইংরেজি - আমেরিক
    Fiz,

    Under either interpretation of that phrase, the sentence you quoted doesn't make sense. Can you tell us what the source for that quote is or perhaps provide more contexts?

    Added: Sorry! I should've read the thread more carefully.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2012
  13. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    (1) 'But is there not a sense in which networks of creativity
    beg the question?'

    The simple fact that this sentence stands on its own as a question shows that 'beg the question' is used here in the older and genuine sense. That is what you would expect anyway in a work of cultural and philosophical criticism published by Harvard.
    (2) 'Beg the question' in the loose modern usage would need to be followed by a statement of the question which is said to be begged. For example:
    'What we are saying here is that every two days a juvenile is arrested and it begs the question, "What is really happening to our parents?"'
    http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/beg-the-question.html
    (3) Below is my reading of the text.
    Creative persons are typically linked to one another in chains, and appear as contemporary rivals. But is there not a sense in which networks of creativity beg the question? Another factor is presupposed that generates some creativity in the first place. Within chains over time, creativity often increases.

    (a) But is there not a sense in which networks of creativity beg the question? This means:
    If we try to explain the great productiveness of periods such as Classical Greece by saying it is due to networks of creativity, are we not begging the question?
    In other words, if we use 'networks of creativity' as our explanation, we are assuming the existence of that which we are trying to explain (our explanation assumes the existence of the creativity).

    (b) 'Another factor is presupposed that generates some creativity in the first place. Within chains over time, creativity often increases.' This means:
    The emergence of unusual creativity presupposes another factor which causes the creativity to arise. We see an increase of creativity over time.
    The true explanation therefore needs to identify this causative factor.
     
  14. F1Z Senior Member

    Arabic
    The context is provided in post 5. Since the entire chapter is a theoretical analysis of how creativity starts and sprouts, I have something to share with you. I elicited it from DocPenfro's post (no. 7).

    Since the author says "another factor is presupposed that generates some creativity in the first place." Doesn't that make the one who begs the question (the 'networkness' of creativity: creativity being in the form of networks), and the question is, respectively, (how did creativity start and evolve into networks in the first place?)? What do you think?
     
  15. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    See my post #8: The quote is: “Creative persons are typically linked to one another in chains, and appear as contemporary rivals. But is there not a sense in which networks of creativity beg the question? Another factor is presupposed that generates some creativity in the first place.”


    The author says, “[It is given as a truth that] (i) “Creative persons are typically linked to one another in chains, and appear as contemporary rivals.” And (ii) “[that there thus are] networks of creativity.”

    And then he says,
    “Another factor is presupposed that generates some creativity in the first place.”i.e. where did the creativity come from?

    To continue, you should understand:


    1. The original phrase was, “That beggars the question.” (as in “It beggars belief.”)

    As a beggar is a person who has no money or other resource , so in this sense, “ That beggars the question.” = "That is beyond the resources of the question.” Which, in turn, means, "The question (and the arguments for it) is not satisfied in logic.”


    1. The question need not be a question but can be a statement – i.e. the point in question.

    Another phrase for “beg the question" is “circular reasoning”.

    The first sentence already says that networks of creativity exist, - Creative persons are typically linked to one another..”

    So we have creative networks of creative people who network.

    You will see that this is a circular, self-defining, statement and does not explain why there should be networks of creative people – which comes first? The network or the person? And where did the creativity arise? – it would seem that all are required at the same time and thus nothing is explained.

    Example of Begging the Question
    Bill: "God must exist."
    Jill: "How do you know?"
    Bill: "Because the Bible says so."
    Jill: "Why should I believe the Bible?"
    Bill: "Because the Bible was written by God."


    (God had to exist in the first place so as to be able to write the Bible, so Bill has assumed the answer before he started to reason.)

    In the same way, creativity had to exist before a network of creative people could arise, yet if networks are “of creativity” how did creativity arise?

    (I must say that, with the limited amount that I have read, I have had to be generous the author in his use of "beg the question” but perhaps the rest of the chapter would make his point more clearly.)
     
  16. F1Z Senior Member

    Arabic
    So, the question is:"How did creativity arise or emerge?" Beggar of question is: "The original premises which presupposes the existence of creativity."

    Thank you wandle, PaulQ, DocPenfro and everyone very much :)
     
  17. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    California
    English - US
    Please name the source in the post itself, along with any relevant information. Do not rely on a link.

    When you link to Google books, often people in some countries can see the text, but those in other countries can't. This has to do with copyright law. Possibly Google also sets a limit on the number of times a link may be clicked. I am not certain. In any case, Google does not allow me to see the text.
     
  18. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    I think the writer thinks he is using the expression to beg the question in its technical, logical, sense here. He uses this technical sense at at least one other point in the book, where he gets it more or less right.

    The previous chapter talks of how scientists and philosophers are part of a vast chain of interactive thinking.

    For the writer the possible begging of the question comes in the expression network of creativity. I think the suggestion is that a creative thinker might be seen as an original independent mind free from association with others, climbing unaccompanied to new insights. The word network runs against this idea and might be seen as contradicting it: creativity could be seen as incapable of operating within a network.

    The writer goes on to solve his own problem with statements like Within chains over time, creativity often increases. In other words, creativity isn't inconsistent with networks; a network of creativity is not a logical impossibility, like advancing backwards.

    He is actually dealing with what is almost the opposite of begging the question, a logical impossibility. I suspect he was trying to sound clever and ended up foxing his readers as well as himself.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
  19. Beryl from Northallerton Senior Member

    British English
    Suspicion seconded.
     
  20. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Suspicion carried!
     
  21. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    Objection. It is hereby proposed that the explanation in #13 makes the meaning clear, that 'beg the question' has its correct, traditional logical meaning and that the obscurity of the text is due only to a syncopated style probably owing something to context and something to the need for economy in an academic work.
    'Networks of creativity' in the sentence But is there not a sense in which networks of creativity beg the question? seems to be shorthand for 'the networks of creativity which some authors propose as an explanation for the phenomenon of ancient Greek culture'.
    Also, pace PaulQ, the expression 'beggar the question' seems a red herring, since the logical sense of 'beg the question' goes back to the Greek and Latin expressions of which it is a translation and in which is there no sense of 'beggar'.
     
  22. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Objection noted! However, the alternative in #18 is that it is as much a logical impossibility rather than a circular argument of possibilities explaining themselves, or almost an oxymoron "collaborative creativity" like "practised spontaneity" :)
     
  23. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    To me the difficulty of that alternative is that at a stroke it makes the sense unclear and the author's use of terms incorrect.
     
  24. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    This article http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/beg-the-question.html is worth a read as it gives a plausible explanation (not particularly to my advantage) and etymology.
     
  25. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
  26. pwmeek

    pwmeek Senior Member

    SE Michigan, USA
    English - American
  27. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    OK I think we have stipulated the meaning of "beg the question", in its original sense, without requiring further testimony. So we go on to what the original issue actually means.
    I still don't quite get the sense in which....
    By using the phrase "network of creativity" are we thinking the author is suggesting its use assumes something about creativity itself (or that its definition precludes the possibility of "collaborative" creativity) , or about the possibility of a network?

    Presumably the question at hand is "How do we explain the great productivity of Classical Greece?" And then we try to explain it by saying because there is a network of creativity. So the sense is perhaps that a network might be very productive? If we assume that a network is always highly productive, then I begin to see the issue - that could be the "assumption without proof". However, I don't intuitively think that just because something is a network, it is necessarily highly productive; one could have such a "network of creativity" which was not nearly as productive as explanation for the flourishing of Classical Greece, perhaps because it was more far-flung, like the network of megalith builders of NW Europe that preceded the acme of Greek Classical era.

    I do admit that I am feeling out of my depth ion the philosophical side of this but wanted a bit of clarity on the "language" side - interpreting the original issue. As the English learners say "Am I close?" :D
     
  28. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    I don't know who has been misleading you, Peter, but have you stopped beating your wife? is not begging the question. It presupposes something which might well be in dispute, that you were once in the habit of beating your wife. That is sometimes called a loaded question.

    Begging the question is assuming your conclusion as a premise. Remember it has nothing to do with questions; it's a form of logical fallacy. It would be begging the question for instance to say That bachelor is still unmarried. The fact that he is a bachelor means that he is must be unmarried, and the statement has the characteristic vapidity of a question begged.

    The author of the passage we are supposed wonders publicly whether the expression a network of creativity is begging the question - strictly he should mean whether it is a vapidity like an unmarried bachelor. If it is begging the question, then either all networks must be networks of creativity, or all creativity must spring from networks. As he seems to be arguing in the opposite direction - that the phrase network of creativity might be a logical impossibility, that networks might undermine creativity - rather than a necessary truth, he is really talking about what some people call a contradiction in terms: i.e. he has his knickers in a twist. He goes on almost in the next sentence to say that creativity isn't restrained by networks, so he shows clearly, as he disposes of his previous idea, that he was dealing earlier with a logical impossibility, rather than a begged question.

    For begged question read logical impossibility throughout and he starts to make sense.

    I seem to remember arguing something similar some time back.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012

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