1

[Source:] Arguments that appeal to ignorance rely merely on the fact that the veracity of the proposition is not disproven to arrive at a definite conclusion. These arguments fail to appreciate that the limits of one's understanding or certainty do not change what is true. They do not inform upon reality. That is, whatever the reality is, it does not "wait" upon human logic or analysis to be formulated. Reality exists at all times, and it exists independently of what is in the mind of anyone.

I am guessing OED Online's Definition 8b as the apt definition for inform in the foregoing:

III. 8b. Of a quality, principle, etc.: to be the determinant principle of; to give a thing its essential quality or character; to inspire, animate; to pervade. In later use more generally: (of an experience, etc.) to influence, to affect.

Yet OED appears mum on inform upon. So what are the similarities and differences? What would happen if upon were omitted here? I know that as prepositions, upon = on.

  • 2
    The best thing to be said about the English in that passage is that it is nowhere near as bad as the logic in that passage. I suggest that you put it from your head, and seek to emulate neither. – ruakh Jan 24 '15 at 6:52
  • @ruakh Read the entire article. The logic of the article is very sound - though its very thrust is to dismiss false logic arrived at through poor reasoning. – Tetsujin Jan 24 '15 at 8:06
  • @Tetsujin: It's a Wikipedia article, with the various parts having been written and modified by different people over time; so it doesn't make sense to take "the logic of the article" as a proxy for the logic of a specific passage. This passage is nonsense written by an idiot. Think about it; if someone says, "What? There was no riot last night. No one's mentioned one", would you seriously think, "Oh, I see. He thinks that reality is shaped by what he has heard"? Of course not; you'd just think "He's wrongly assuming that everyone would be talking about that." – ruakh Jan 24 '15 at 16:41
  • The text was added by an anonymous whose IP was 192.138.70.245 on 19 January 2011. For the difference between revisions, see: en.wikipedia.org/w/…. – Damkerng T. Feb 23 '15 at 13:28
  • I'm pondering adding pretentious-writing to this question. That's really the only context you could ever see this usage in. – Nathan Tuggy Jul 23 '15 at 18:28
1

It is an archaic meaning of "inform" in the sense "to create an impression on something", like a fingerprint on moist clay.

This trope, a commonplace in philosophical writing, would ultimately go back, I think, to medieval scholasticism at the intersection of metaphysics and epistemology (and from there back to Aristotle); the "form" of something was its essence, that which made it to be what it was. Does the mind go out and alter that which it knows? Or does that which is known create impressions on the mind? Yadda yadda yadda.

They (the limits of our understanding) do not create an impression on reality. They do not change reality.

-1

I think the "upon" is relatively meaningless in that context, and is used to make the pattern of words flow better, and/or avoid the confusion of "inform reality" suggesting "telling information to reality." (Meanwhile introducing its own confusion...)

It may also be in parallel with the next sentence: That is, whatever the reality is, it does not "wait" upon human logic ...

Another possibility might be that he initially wrote "impose upon reality" -- or meant to write that, but mis-remembered the term and wrote "inform upon" instead.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.