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The Infinitely Iterated Labyrinth: Conceivability and Higher-Order Knowledge

  • SHANE MAXWELL WILKINS (a1)

Abstract:

Some time ago I wrote a paper about conceivability and knowledge. An anonymous referee rejected it on the grounds that the result had already been established in a short story by Jorge Luis Borges. Intrigued, I looked for the story but found no mention of it in Louis and Ziche's extensive bibliography. I spent months consulting archives and electronic records to no avail. I had begun to doubt whether the story even existed when I had the curious good luck to encounter Sir Thomas Browne of Pembroke College, Oxford, who assured me of the piece's authenticity and introduced me to Brother Christian Rosenkreuz of Invisible College who in turn generously put me into correspondence with Borges himself. The literary defects in what follows reflect not a diminution of Borges's undoubted power as a storyteller, but merely my limited ability as an amateur translator. Whatever the translation's literary faults may be, I hope the story's philosophical interest—i.e., an argument that ideal conceivers have higher-order knowledge of necessary truths—remains. [Trans.]

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Borges, Jorge Luis. (1998) ‘ Argumentum ornithologicum ’. In Hurley, Andrew (ed.), Collected Fictions (London: Penguin Books), 299.
Borges, Jorge Luis. (1999a) ‘Pascal's Sphere’. In Weinberger, Eliot (ed.), Borges: Selected Non-fictions (London: Penguin Books), 351–53.
Borges, Jorge Luis. (1999b) ‘When Fiction Lives in Fiction’. In Weinberger, Eliot (ed.), Borges: Selected Non-fictions (London: Penguin Books), 160–63.
Chalmers, David J. (2002) ‘Does Conceivability Entail Possibility?’ In Gendler, Tamar Szabó and Hawthorne, John (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 145200.
Kvanvig, Jonathan L. (2006) The Knowability Paradox. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Linder, N., ed. (1885) ‘Labyrint’. In Nordisk familjebok, 9, 475.

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The Infinitely Iterated Labyrinth: Conceivability and Higher-Order Knowledge

  • SHANE MAXWELL WILKINS (a1)

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