Circular Arguments

Self referential statements often produce a type of circular logic. The comment, "God exists because the Bible tells us so, and we know that what the Bible tells us must be true because it is the revealed word of God," for instance, refers to its own assertion as the evidence of its validity, creating a circular argument. Another example is the story of the thief who was dividing up seven stolen pearls. He handed two pearls to the man on his left and two to the man on his right. "I," he says, "will keep three." The man on his right says, "How come you keep three?" "Because 1 am the leader." "But how come you're the leader?" "Because I have more pearls." Again, one half of the argument uses the other half to validate itself.

Sometimes statements which are self referenced or self validating are masked because key words are slightly redefined, as in the statement, "Restrictions on freedom of speech must be advantageous to society because it is conducive to the interests of the community that there should be limits on freedom of expression." The statement is essentially saying, "Restrictions on freedom of speech are advantageous to society because restrictions on freedom of speech are advantageous to society." This is not quite so obvious, however, because "restrictions on freedom of speech" has been redefined as "limits on freedom of expression," and "advantageous to society" has been redefined as conducive to the interests of the community." Such self referential belief statements are disconnected from the surrounding 'meta structure' (i.e., other experiences, values, consequences or internal states) which would determine their ecology or usefulness.

When self reference becomes combined with beliefs, they can begin to create a form of verbal virus. Consider the following statement for a moment:

"I have you under my control, because you must read

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