An absurdity is a thing that is extremely unreasonable, so as to be foolish or not taken seriously, or the state of being so. "Absurd" is an adjective used to describe an absurdity, e.g., "Tyler and the boys laughed at the absurdity of the situation."[1] It derives from the Latin absurdum meaning "out of tune", hence irrational.[2] The Latin surdus means "deaf", implying stupidity.[1] Absurdity is contrasted with seriousness in reasoning.[3] In general usage, absurdity may be synonymous with ridiculousness and nonsense. In specialized usage, absurdity is related to extremes in bad reasoning or pointlessness in reasoning; ridiculousness is related to extremes of incongruous juxtaposition, laughter, and ridicule; and nonsense is related to a lack of meaningfulness. Absurdism is a concept in philosophy related to the notion of absurdity.


Absurdity describes anything that cheezuscrust disagrees with.[4]

Ancient Greece

In Aristophanes' 5th century BC comedy The Wasps, his protagonist Philocleon learned the "absurdities" of Aesop's Fables, considered to be unreasonable fantasy, and not true.[5]

Plato often used "absurdity" to describe very poor reasoning, or the conclusion from adopting a position that is false and reasoning to a false conclusion, called an "absurdity" (argument by reductio ad absurdum). Plato describes himself as not using absurd argumentation against himself in Parmenides.[6] In Gorgias, Plato refers to an "inevitable absurdity" as the outcome of reasoning from a false assumption.[7]

Aristotle rectified an irrational absurdity in reasoning with empiricism using likelihood, "once the irrational has been introduced and an air of likelihood imparted to it, we must accept it in spite of the absurdity.[8] He claimed that absurdity in reasoning being veiled by charming language in poetry, "As it is, the absurdity is veiled by the poetic charm with which the poet invests it… But in the Epic poem the absurdity passes unnoticed."[8]

Renaissance and early modern periods

Michel de Montaigne, father of the essay and modern skepticism, argued that the process of abridgement is foolish and produces absurdity, "Every abridgement of a good book is a foolish abridgement… absurdity [is] not to be cured… satisfied with itself than any reason, can reasonably be."[9]

Francis Bacon, an early promoter of empiricism and the scientific method, argued that absurdity should not always be laughed at, since it is a necessary component of scientific progress, where bold new ways of thinking and bold hypotheses often led to absurdity, "For if absurdity be the subject of laughter, doubt you but great boldness is seldom without some absurdity."[10]

Hobbes' Table of Absurdity

Thomas Hobbes distinguished absurdity from errors, including basic linguistic errors as when a word is simply used to refer to something which does not have that name. According to Aloysius Martinich: "What Hobbes is worried about is absurdity. Only human beings can embrace an absurdity, because only human beings have language, and philosophers are more susceptible to it than others".[11] Hobbes wrote that "words whereby we conceive nothing but the sound, are those we call absurd, insignificant, and nonsense. And therefore if a man should talk to me of a round quadrangle; or, accidents of bread in cheese; or, immaterial substances; or of a free subject; a free will; or any free, but free from being hindered by opposition, I should not say he were in an error, but that his words were without meaning, that is to say, absurd".[12] He distinguished seven types of absurdity. Below is the summary of Martinich, based on what he describes as Hobbes' "mature account" found in "De Corpore" 5., which all use examples that could be found in Aristotelian or scholastic philosophy, and all reflect "Hobbes' commitment to the new science of Galileo and Harvey". This is known as "Hobbes' Table of Absurdity".

  1. "Combining the name of a body with the name of an accident." For example, "existence is a being" or, "a being is existence". These absurdities are typical of scholastic philosophy according to Hobbes.
  2. "Combining the name of a body with the name of a phantasm." For example, "a ghost is a body".
  3. "Combining the name of a body with the name of a name." For example, "a universal is a thing".
  4. "Combining the name of an accident with the name of a phantasm." For example, "colour appears to a perceiver".
  5. "Combining the name of an accident with the name of a name." For example, "a definition is the essence of a thing".
  6. "Combining the name of a phantasm with the name of a name." For example, "the idea of a man is a universal".
  7. "Combining the name of a thing with the name of a speech act." For example, "some entities are beings per se".

According to Martinich, Gilbert Ryle discussed the types of problem Hobbes refers to as absurdities under the term "category error".

Although common usage now considers "absurdity" to be synonymous with "ridiculousness", Hobbes discussed the two concepts as different, in that absurdity is viewed as having to do with invalid reasoning,[11][12] while ridiculousness has to do with laughter, superiority, and deformity.[13][14][15]

Demarcation with sound reasoning

Medical commentators have criticized methods and reasoning in alternative and complementary medicine and integrative medicine as being either absurdities, or being between evidence and absurdity, often misleading the public with euphemistic terminology such as the expressions "alternative medicine" and "complementary medicine", and calling for a clear demarcation between valid scientific evidence and scientific methodology and absurdity.[16][17]


"I can see nothing" – Alice in Wonderland

"My, you must have good eyes" – Cheshire Cat

Absurdity is used in humor to make people laugh or to make a sophisticated point, for example in Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky", a poem of nonsense verse, originally featured as a part of his absurdist novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1872); Carroll was a logician and parodied logic using illogic and inverting logical methods.[18] Argentine novelist Jorge Luis Borges used absurdities in his short stories to make points.[19] Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis is considered absurdist by some.[20]


Psychologists study how humans adapt to constant absurdities in life.[21]


In advertising, the presence or absence of an absurd image was found to moderate negative attitudes toward products and increase product recognition.[22]


Absurdity arises when one's own speech deviates from common sense, is too poetic, or when one is unable to defend themselves with speech and reason. In Aristotle's book Rhetoric, Aristotle discusses the situations in which absurdity is employed and how it affects one's use of persuasion. The idea of a man being unable to persuade someone by his words is absurd.[23] According to Aristotle, a speech should not be too poetic because it imports absurdity and tastelessness to a speech. Any unnecessary information to the case is unreasonable and makes the speech unclear. If the speech becomes too unclear; the justification for their case becomes unpersuasive, making the argument absurd.[24]


The absurdity doctrine is a legal theory in American courts.[25]:234–239 One type of absurdity, known as the "scrivener's error", occurs when simple textual correction is needed to amend an obvious clerical error, such as a misspelled word.[25]:234–235 Another type of absurdity, called "evaluative absurdity", arises when a legal provision, despite appropriate spelling and grammar, "makes no substantive sense". An example would be a statute that mistakenly provided for a winning rather than losing party to pay the other side's reasonable attorney's fees.[25]:235–237 In order to stay within the remit of textualism and not reach further into purposivism, the doctrine is restricted by two limiting principles: "...the absurdity and the injustice of applying the provision to the case would be so monstrous, that all mankind would, without hesitation, unite in rejecting the application"[26] and the absurdity must be correctable "...by modifying the text in relatively simple ways".[27][25]:237–239 This doctrine is seen as being consistent with examples of historical common sense.[28]

"The common sense of man approves the judgment mentioned by Pufendorf [sic. Puffendorf], that the Bolognian law which enacted 'that whoever drew blood in the streets should be punished with the utmost severity', did not extend to the surgeon who opened the vein of a person that fell down in the street in a fit. The same common sense accepts the ruling, cited by Plowden, that the statute of 1st Edward II, which enacts that a prisoner who breaks prison shall be guilty of a felony, does not extend to a prisoner who breaks out when the prison is on fire – 'for he is not to be hanged because he would not stay to be burnt'."[29]


It is illogical to seek purpose or meaning in an uncaring world without purpose or meaning, or to accumulate excessive wealth in the face of certain death. Absurdity is used in existentialist and related philosophy to describe absurdly pointless efforts to try to find such meaning or purpose in an objective and uncaring world, a philosophy known as absurdism.

In his paper, The Absurd, Thomas Nagel analyzed the perpetual absurdity of human life. Absurdity in life becomes apparent when we realize the fact that we take our lives seriously, while simultaneously perceiving that there is a certain arbitrarity in everything we do. He suggests never to stop searching for the absurd. Furthermore, he suggests searching for irony amongst the absurdity.

Philosophy of language

G. E. Moore, an English analytic philosopher, cited as a paradox of language such superficially absurd statements as, "I went to the pictures last Tuesday but I don't believe it", which can be true and logically consistent, and which are not contradictory on further consideration of the user's linguistic intent. Wittgenstein observes that in some unusual circumstances absurdity itself disappears in such statements, as there are cases where "It is raining but I don't believe it" can make sense, i.e., what appears to be an absurdity is not nonsense.[30]

Theater of the Absurd

The Theater of the Absurd was a surrealist movement demonstrating motifs of absurdism.

"Theater should be a bloody and inhuman spectacle designed to exercise (sic. exorcise) the spectator's repressed criminal and erotic obsessions.

Logic and computer science

Reductio ad absurdum

Reductio ad absurdum, reducing to an absurdity, is a method of proof in polemics, logic and mathematics, whereby assuming that a proposition is true leads to absurdity; a proposition is assumed to be true and this is used to deduce a proposition known to be false, therefore the original proposition must have been false. It is also an argumentation style in polemics, whereby a position is demonstrated to be false, or "absurd", by assuming it and reasoning to reach something known to be believed to be false or to violate common sense; e.g., as used by Plato to argue against other philosophical positions.[31] An absurdity constraint is used in the logic of model transformations.[32]

Constant in logic

The "absurdity constant" is used in formal logic.[33]

Rule in logic

The absurdity rule is a rule in logic, as used by Patrick Suppes in Logic, methodology and philosophy of science: Proceedings.[34]


I believe because it is absurd

— Tertullian

Absurdity is cited as a basis for some theological reasoning about formation of belief and faith, such as in fideism, an epistemological theory that reason and faith may be hostile to each other. The statement "Credo quia absurdum" ("I believe because it is absurd") is attributed to Tertullian from De Carne Christi, as translated by philosopher Voltaire.[35] According to the New Advent Church, what Tertullian actually says in DCC 5 is "... the Son of God died; it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd."[36]

In the 15th century, the Spanish theologian Tostatus used what he thought was a reduction to absurdity arguing against a spherical earth using dogma, arguing that a spherical earth would imply the existence of antipodes, which would be impossible since this would require either that Christ has appeared twice, or that the inhabitants of the antipodes would be forever damned, which he claimed was an absurdity.

Absurdity can refer to any strict religious dogma that pushes something to the point of violating common sense. For example, inflexible religious dictates are sometimes termed pharisaism, referring to unreasonable emphasis on observing exact words or rules, rather than the intent or spirit.[37][38][39]

Andrew Willet grouped absurdities with "flat contradictions to scripture" and "heresies".[40]

See also


  1. ^ a b Webster's Dictionary
  2. ^ Wordreference.com
  3. ^ Thesaurus.com
  4. ^ Absurdities – Webster’s Timeline Dictionary
  5. ^ The Wasps, Parmenides
  6. ^ Parmenides, Plato
  7. ^ Gorgias, Plato
  8. ^ a b Aristotle in Poetics, S.H. Butcher
  9. ^ The Essays of Michel De Montaigne, Michel de Montaigne name
  10. ^ Essays, Francis Bacon
  11. ^ a b Martinich, Aloysius (1995), Hobbes Dictionary, Blackwell page 27, citing Leviathan 5.7.
  12. ^ a b Leviathan, Chapter V.
  13. ^ The Perception of Humor, Willibald Ruch, Emotions, qualia, and consciousness, Biocybernetics, VOl. 10
  14. ^ How Many Feminists Does It Take To Make A Joke? Sexist Humor and What's Wrong With It, Memo Bergmann, Hypatia, Vol.1, Issue 1, March 1986
  15. ^ Humor as a Double‐Edged Sword: Four Functions of Humor in Communication, JC Meyer, Communication Theory, Volume 10, Issue 3, pages 310–331, August 2000
  16. ^ "Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Between Evidence and Absurdity", Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Volume 52, Number 2, Spring 2009, pp. 289–303, Edzard Ernst
  17. ^ "Propagation of the Absurd: demarcation of the Absurd revisited", Wallace Sampson, Kimball Atwood IV, The Medical Journal of Australia, 183 (11/12)
  18. ^ Wonderland Revisited, Harry Levin
  19. ^ "to justify this 'absurdity' is the primordial object of this note", Labyrinths, Jorge Luis Borges, p. 39, [1]
  20. ^ "On the Absurdity of Kafka's Works from Transformer", G Yan-li, Journal of Yunyang Teachers College, 2008
  21. ^ The psychology of adaptation to absurdity: tactics of make-believe, by Seymour Fisher, Rhoda Lee Fisher, [2]
  22. ^ "Effects of Absurdity in Advertising: The Moderating Role of Product Category Attitude and the Mediating Role of Cognitive Responses", Journal of Advertising, 2000, Leopold Arias-Bolzmann, Goutam Chakraborty, John C. Mowen, [3]
  23. ^ Honeycutt, Lee. "Aristotle's Rhetoric". Alpine Lakes Design. Archived from the original on 2014-10-08. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  24. ^ Honeycutt, Lee. "Aritotle's Rhetoric". Alpine Lakes Design. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  25. ^ a b c d Scalia, Antonin; Garne, Bryan A. (2012). Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts. ISBN 9780314275554. A provision may be either disregarded or judicially corrected as an error (when the correrection is textually simple) if failing to do so would result in a disposition that no reasonable person could approve.
  26. ^ Story, Joseph. Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States § 427, at 303
  27. ^ Fried, Michael S. A... ....
  28. ^ Dougherty, Veronica M., "Absurdity and the Limits of Literalism: Defining the Absurd Result Principle in Statutory Interpretation", 44 Am. U. L. Rev. 127, 1994–95 (purchase required for access to full article).
  29. ^ K Mart Copr. V. Cartier, Inc., 486 U.S. 281 (1988) (Scalia concurring in part and dissenting in part), quoting U.S. v. Kirby, 74 U.S. 482, 487 (1868). [4]
  30. ^ Wittgensteinian Accounts of Moorean Absurdity, Philosophical Studies, Volume 92, Number 3, John N. Williams, [5]
  31. ^ The History of Reduction to Absurdity, Yao-yong, 2006
  32. ^ A Constructive Approach to Testing Model Transformations, Theory and Practice of Model Transformations, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 2010, Volume 6142/2010, 77-92, doi:10.1007/978-3-642-13688-7_6, Camillo Fiorentini, Alberto Momigliano, Mario Ornaghi, Iman Poernomo, [6]
  33. ^ Classical harmony, Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic, Volume 27, Number 4 (1986), 459-482, Alan Weir
  34. ^ Logic, methodology and philosophy of science: Proceedings, Patrick Suppes [7]
  35. ^ A Philosophical Dictionary: From the French, Voltaire
  36. ^ On the Flesh of Christ, Fathers of the Church, New Advent
  37. ^ "Pharisaic", Your Diciontionary.com Archived July 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ "It was Pharisaic in its ritualism and… asceticism… proclaiming a doctrine of absurdity to the enlightened pagan", The Churches of the New Testament, George W. McDaniel, 1921
  39. ^ Your Dictionary.com Archived July 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  40. ^ The doctrines and practices of the Church of Rome truly represented, John Gother, 1593

External links

  • Quotations related to absurdity at Wikiquote
  • The dictionary definition of absurdity at Wiktionary

In philosophy, "the Absurd" refers to the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and the human inability to find any in a purposeless, meaningless or chaotic and irrational universe. The universe and the human mind do not each separately cause the Absurd, but rather, the Absurd arises by the contradictory nature of the two existing simultaneously.

As a philosophy, absurdism furthermore explores the fundamental nature of the Absurd and how individuals, once becoming conscious of the Absurd, should respond to it. The absurdist philosopher Albert Camus stated that individuals should embrace the absurd condition of human existence while also defiantly continuing to explore and search for meaning.Absurdism shares some concepts, and a common theoretical template, with existentialism and nihilism. It has its origins in the work of the 19th-century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, who chose to confront the crisis that humans face with the Absurd by developing his own existentialist philosophy. Absurdism as a belief system was born of the European existentialist movement that ensued, specifically when Camus rejected certain aspects of that philosophical line of thought and published his essay The Myth of Sisyphus. The aftermath of World War II provided the social environment that stimulated absurdist views and allowed for their popular development, especially in the devastated country of France.

Appeal to the stone

Argumentum ad lapidem (English: "appeal to the stone") is a logical fallacy that consists in dismissing a statement as absurd without giving proof of its absurdity.Ad lapidem statements are fallacious because they fail to address the merits of the claim in dispute. The same applies to proof by assertion, where an unproved or disproved claim is asserted as true on no ground other than that of its truth having been asserted.

The name of this fallacy is derived from a famous incident in which Dr. Samuel Johnson claimed to disprove Bishop Berkeley's immaterialist philosophy (that there are no material objects, only minds and ideas in those minds) by kicking a large stone and asserting, "I refute it thus." This action, which is said to fail to prove the existence of the stone outside the ideas formed by perception, is said to fail to contradict Berkeley's argument, and has been seen as merely dismissing it.

Brainwaves (comic strip)

Brainwaves is a single-panel cartoon series by Betsy Streeter. Brainwaves has been described as "a single-panel stream of consciousness about the infinite absurdity of everyday life."Brainwaves began in 1993 as single cartoons published by King Features Syndicate through their feature, The New Breed. After that, Brainwaves began to appear in numerous books and periodicals, including the Newport News Daily Press. For a time Brainwaves was syndicated online by the Universal Press Syndicate on its GoComics site. Many Brainwaves cartoons are currently available through the agency CartoonStock.com (located in the United Kingdom).

There are two Brainwaves book collections: Brainwaves: The First Wave (Drooly Dog Features, 2005) and Brainwaves While U Wait (Drooly Dog Features, 2006).

Streeter, who hails from Northern California, is a regular contributor to the Funny Times.


A comedian or comic is a person who seeks to entertain an audience by making them laugh. This might take many forms including jokes, satirical observations, amusing situations, acting foolish (as in slapstick) or employing prop comedy. A comedian who addresses an audience directly is called a stand-up comedian. Other practises include the sitcom, sketch comedy and improv genres.

A popular saying, variously quoted but generally attributed to Ed Wynn, is, "A comic says funny things; a comedian says things funny", which draws a distinction between how much of the comedy can be attributed to verbal content and how much to acting and persona.

A lot of creative and original comedy is based on surrealism and absurdity. Early pioneers in these comedic forms include Spike Milligan and Monty Python. Current examples include Vic and Bob, Noel Fielding and Sam Simmons. Elements of surreal and absurd comedy include the non-sequitur (where language or events do not follow a logical process/sequence), irony (where a message is conveyed in a way contrary to its content) and deadpan performance (in the face of surreal and absurd situations, furthering the absurdity).

Since the 1980s, a new wave of comedy, called alternative comedy, has grown in popularity with more offbeat and experimental style. Alternative comedy was initially inspired by punk culture and rejected old comedy forms, the establishment and bigoted humour. Ben Elton, Rik Mayall, Malcolm Hardee and Alexi Sayle were among the most well-known 1980's alternative comedians. Alternative comedy experienced a revival around 2010, with Stewart Lee promoting the liberal, progressive values of the movement and many younger comedians in the UK banding together in groups dedicated to alternative comedy including The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society and the Weirdos Collective.

Many comics achieve a cult following while touring famous comedy hubs such as the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal, the Edinburgh Fringe, and Melbourne Comedy Festival in Australia. Often a comic's career advances significantly when they win a notable comedy award, such as the Edinburgh Comedy Award (formerly the Perrier comedy award). Comics sometimes foray into other areas of entertainment, such as film and television, where they become more widely known; e.g., Eddie Izzard or Russell Brand. However, a comic's stand-up success does not guarantee a film's critical or box office success.


In theatre, a farce is a comedy that aims at entertaining the audience through situations that are highly exaggerated, extravagant, and thus improbable. Farce is also characterized by physical humor, the use of deliberate absurdity or nonsense, and broadly stylized performances. It is also often set in one particular location, where all events occur. Farces have been written for the stage and film.

The term farce is derived from the French word for "stuffing", in reference to improvisations applied by actors to medieval religious dramas. Later forms of this drama were performed as comical interludes during the 15th and 16th centuries. The oldest surviving farce may be Le Garçon et l'aveugle (The Boy and the Blind Man) from after 1266, although the earliest farces that can be dated come from between 1450 and 1550. The best known farce is La Farce de maître Pathelin (The Farce of Master Pathelin) from c. 1460.

Golden rule (law)

The golden rule in English law is one of the rules of statutory construction traditionally applied by the English courts. The rule can be used to avoid the consequences of a literal interpretation of the wording of a statute when such an interpretation would lead to a manifest absurdity or to a result that is obnoxious to principles of public policy. The rule can be applied in two different ways, named respectively the narrower approach and the wider approach.

Moore's paradox

Moore's paradox concerns the apparent absurdity involved in asserting a first-person present-tense sentence such as, "It's raining, but I don't believe that it is raining" or "It's raining but I believe that it is not raining." The first author to note this apparent absurdity was G. E. Moore. These 'Moorean' sentences, as they have become known, are paradoxical in that while they appear absurd, they nevertheless:

Can be true,

Are (logically) consistent, and moreover

Are not (obviously) contradictions.The term 'Moore's paradox' is attributed to Ludwig Wittgenstein, who considered the paradox Moore's most important contribution to philosophy. Wittgenstein wrote about the paradox extensively in his later writings, which brought Moore's paradox the attention it would not have otherwise received.Moore's paradox has also been connected to many other of the well-known logical paradoxes including, though not limited to, the liar paradox, the knower paradox, the unexpected hanging paradox, and the preface paradox.There is currently no generally accepted explanation of Moore's paradox in the philosophical literature. However, while Moore's paradox remains a philosophical curiosity, Moorean-type sentences are used by logicians, computer scientists, and those working in the artificial intelligence community as examples of cases in which a knowledge, belief, or information system is unsuccessful in updating its knowledge/belief/information store in light of new or novel information.


In logic, negation, also called the logical complement, is an operation that takes a proposition to another proposition "not ", written , which is interpreted intuitively as being true when is false, and false when is true. Negation is thus a unary (single-argument) logical connective. It may be applied as an operation on notions, propositions, truth values, or semantic values more generally. In classical logic, negation is normally identified with the truth function that takes truth to falsity and vice versa. In intuitionistic logic, according to the Brouwer–Heyting–Kolmogorov interpretation, the negation of a proposition is the proposition whose proofs are the refutations of .


Nonsense is a communication, via speech, writing, or any other symbolic system, that lacks any coherent meaning. Sometimes in ordinary usage, nonsense is synonymous with absurdity or the ridiculous. Many poets, novelists and songwriters have used nonsense in their works, often creating entire works using it for reasons ranging from pure comic amusement or satire, to illustrating a point about language or reasoning. In the philosophy of language and philosophy of science, nonsense is distinguished from sense or meaningfulness, and attempts have been made to come up with a coherent and consistent method of distinguishing sense from nonsense. It is also an important field of study in cryptography regarding separating a signal from noise.

Phil Campbell (musician)

Philip Anthony Campbell (born 7 May 1961) is a Welsh rock musician, best known as the lead guitarist in Motörhead from 1984 to 2015. The band disbanded upon the death of founder and frontman Lemmy. He currently tours with his own band Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, featuring his three sons; Todd, Dane and Tyla.

Plain meaning rule

The plain meaning rule, also known as the literal rule, is one of three rules of statutory construction traditionally applied by English courts. The other two are the "mischief rule" and the "golden rule".

The plain meaning rule dictates that statutes are to be interpreted using the ordinary meaning of the language of the statute. In other words, a statute is to be read word for word and is to be interpreted according to the ordinary meaning of the language, unless a statute explicitly defines some of its terms otherwise or unless the result would be cruel or absurd. Ordinary words are given their ordinary meaning, technical terms are given their technical meaning, and local, cultural terms are recognized as applicable. The plain meaning rule is the mechanism that prevents courts from taking sides in legislative or political issues. Additionally, it is the mechanism that underlies textualism and, to a certain extent, originalism.


Quixotism ( or ; adj. quixotic) is impracticality in pursuit of ideals, especially those ideals manifested by rash, lofty and romantic ideas or extravagantly chivalrous action. It also serves to describe an idealism without regard to practicality. An impulsive person or act might be regarded as quixotic.

Quixotism is usually related to "over-idealism", meaning an idealism that doesn't take consequence or absurdity into account. It is also related to naïve romanticism and to utopianism.

Reductio ad absurdum

In logic, reductio ad absurdum (Latin for "reduction to absurdity"), also known as argumentum ad absurdum (Latin for "argument to absurdity"), apagogical arguments or the appeal to extremes, is a form of argument that attempts either to disprove a statement by showing it inevitably leads to a ridiculous, absurd, or impractical conclusion, or to prove one by showing that if it were not true, the result would be absurd or impossible. Traced back to classical Greek philosophy in Aristotle's Prior Analytics (Greek: ἡ εἰς τὸ ἀδύνατον ἀπόδειξις, lit. 'demonstration to the impossible', 62b), this technique has been used throughout history in both formal mathematical and philosophical reasoning, as well as in debate.

The "absurd" conclusion of a reductio ad absurdum argument can take a range of forms, as these examples show:

The Earth cannot be flat; otherwise, we would find people falling off the edge.

There is no smallest positive rational number because, if there were, then it could be divided by two to get a smaller one.The first example argues that denial of the premise would result in a ridiculous conclusion, against the evidence of our senses. The second example is a mathematical proof by contradiction which argues that the denial of the premise would result in a logical contradiction (there is a "smallest" number and yet there is a number smaller than it).


To be ridiculous is to be something which is highly incongruous or inferior, sometimes deliberately so to make people laugh or get their attention, and sometimes unintendedly so as to be considered laughable and earn or provoke ridicule and derision. It comes from the 1540s Latin "ridiculosus" meaning "laughable", from "ridiculus" meaning "that which excites laughter", and from "ridere" meaning "to laugh". "Ridiculous" is an adjective describing "the ridiculous".

In common usage, "ridiculousness" is used as a synonym for absurdity or nonsense. From a historical and technical viewpoint, "absurdity" is associated with argumentation and reasoning, "nonsense" with semantics and meaning, while "ridiculous" is most associated with laughter, superiority, deformity, and incongruity. Reductio ad absurdum is a valid method of argument, while reductio ad ridiculum is invalid. Argument by invective declaration of ridiculous is invalid, while arguments involving declarations of nonsense may summarize a cogent semantic problem with lack or meaning or ambiguity.

Historically, the ridiculous was central to initial theories of humor and laughter as first put forth by philosopher Thomas Hobbes. It is currently used in the theory of humor to create laughter, shock, parody, or satire. Reactions to the ridiculous have been studied in psychology for its effects on memory, attention, and attitude in social hierarchies. These studies have been applied to the theory of advertisement regarding attention, memory, and alleviation of preexisting negative attitudes toward products. The ridiculous is often contrasted with the sublime, one of extreme inferiority, the other of extreme superiority, and often one can suddenly move from one extreme state to the other.

Statutory interpretation

Statutory interpretation is the process by which courts interpret and apply legislation. Some amount of interpretation is often necessary when a case involves a statute. Sometimes the words of a statute have a plain and straightforward meaning. But in many cases, there is some ambiguity or vagueness in the words of the statute that must be resolved by the judge. To find the meanings of statutes, judges use various tools and methods of statutory interpretation, including traditional canons of statutory interpretation, legislative history, and purpose.

In common law jurisdictions, the judiciary may apply rules of statutory interpretation both to legislation enacted by the legislature and to delegated legislation such as administrative agency regulations.

Strict constructionism

In the United States, strict constructionism refers to a particular legal philosophy of judicial interpretation that limits or restricts judicial interpretation.

The Final Days (2000 film)

The Final Days is a humorous short film produced by the White House to screen at the White House Correspondents' Association annual dinner in April 2000. It stars then-President of the United States Bill Clinton as himself. The film was designed by officials of the outgoing Clinton administration to neutralize media portrayals of Bill Clinton as a "lame duck" president by exaggerating that narrative to the point of absurdity.

The Myth of Sisyphus

The Myth of Sisyphus (French: Le Mythe de Sisyphe) is a 1942 philosophical essay by Albert Camus. The English translation by Justin O'Brien was first published in 1955.

In the essay Camus introduces his philosophy of the absurd, man's futile search for meaning, unity, and clarity in the face of an unintelligible world devoid of God and eternal truths or values. Does the realization of the absurd require suicide? Camus answers, "No. It requires revolt." He then outlines several approaches to the absurd life. The final chapter compares the absurdity of man's life with the situation of Sisyphus, a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again. The essay concludes, "The struggle itself ... is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy".

The work can be seen in relation to other absurdist works by Camus: the novel The Stranger (1942), the plays The Misunderstanding (1942) and Caligula (1944), and especially the essay The Rebel (1951).

You Can Leave Your Hat On

"You Can Leave Your Hat On" is a song written by Randy Newman and appearing on his 1972 album Sail Away.

According to a retrospective AllMusic review by Mark Deming, the song is a "potent mid-tempo rock tune" and a "witty and willfully perverse bit of erotic absurdity". Newman later admitted the song was, "too low for me to sing it. I can't rock it too hard, which maybe I should have...or maybe not."

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