Paradoxes star among my first loves in logic. So enamored was I with tricks of the mind’s eye I remember once concocting the motto, “Only what is paradoxical is ornery enough to exist”. These days my less precocious self tends to suspect all our nominal paradoxes will gradually dissolve on sufficient inspection and placement in the proper light. There I find the pragmatic spectrum of C.S. Peirce, stretching from the theory of triadic sign relations to the mathematical forms underlying logic, brings a full range of lights to the purpose.
It was by those lights, Peirce’s semiotic and logical graphs, I came to see through the fog of misdirection surrounding the so-called Liar Paradox, inscribing my epitaph to Epimenides under the heading “All Liar, No Paradox”. More than that it became possible to see how the apparent paradox derives its appearance from unexamined assumptions about the relation between signs and objects.
That much prologue brings us up to speed with the Zeroth Law Of Semiotics and the scene of Joseph Harry’s remarks.
- “Meaning is a privilege not a right” would seem to be a meaningless proposition, since ‘privilege’ and ‘right’ are third-order evaluative, symbolic terms, while ‘meaning’ is a neutral second-order term, implying only existential individualized dynamic activity or process. Driving (a car) is a privilege not a right, but meaning is neither.
That may be too literal a reading for Zero‑Aster’s poetic figure. If I read the oracle right, the contrast between “privilege” and “right” serves merely to mark the distinction between meanings optional and obligatory. Whether any hint of “private law” or “law unto itself” is intended or involved is something I would have to spend more time thinking about.