Monday, April 10, 2017

Non Sequitur

There was this time when using Latin tags was the heights of sophistication. So, you would die rather than use 'Therefore', when you could use 'Ergo' and so on. Actually, though, I am mistaken in saying 'was' there - it is still widely prevalent.

Latin tags are a great help in developing jargon. You respect an economist for saying, 'Ceteris paribus' and look down on that stupid wannabe who blabbers, "Other things being the same". As for the philosophical debate, you can scream 'ad hominem' and blame the other guy for bringing in personalities into an intellectual debate. If, on the other hand, you merely said, 'You should discuss the point, not call me names', then you are merely whinging.

Naturally, I was very fond of this phrase - 'Non Sequitur'. It has such wide application, considering how many types of logical fallacies it covers and how prevalent it is in real life. The problem, though, is that you will find it easier explaining Einstein's theory of relativity than why what someone is saying is a 'Non Sequitur'.

It is seemingly simple. All that 'Non Sequitur' means is that there is no logical connectivity between two statements though the chap who was propounding them thinks there is.

Take this - 'Yesterday, he gave me an apple and his name was Rajesh. Now, you gave me an apple, so your name must be Rajesh." Do you think that the second statement follows from the first, logically? That is a non sequitur (of a specific variety called 'affirming the consequent', though that is not really important to this discussion).

Easy-peasy? So you do not see why I find it difficult to explain when something is a non sequitur? Well, how about this one - "A baniya cheated my grandfather. You are a baniya, so you will cheat me". Easy to prove the non sequitur? Not really is it? And even tougher when this whole damn lot gets bundled into "All baniyas are cheats".

Ah! Well! Racism/Casteism is difficult to argue against. It should be easier in other circumstances, obviously. So, let us see.

"Fanatic Hindus think all science has been developed by our ancients. So, anyone who proposes to study our history for ancient science is a fanatic Hindu"

Absolutely logical? Why am I even proposing this as a non sequitur? Quite. Saying that there may be SOME useful science in all those eons of civilization is not the same as saying all science was developed by our ancestors? Mere hair-splitting, of course.

Or, perhaps, this

"Pakistan raises issues about Indian Government's treatment of Kashmiris. Anyone who raises any issues about Indian Government's treatment of Kashmiris is pro-Pakistani"

Quite. I mean, my enemy WILL try to see fault in everything I do, so anyone who points out any fault in whatever I do is obviously an enemy. How can it be a non sequitur? A good friend would point out your flaws so that you can improve? such chap will ever be my friend!

And that accounts for why I found that this term was fairly useless in elevating me as an intellectual in the eyes of my audience. I could not find one single place where I could use it to others' satisfaction!


  1. Your last paragraph is a non-sequitur. You're an intellectual, regardless of your ability to insert Latin into conversation, so there!

    1. Aha! THAT was well-used :) Allow me to point out, though, that being an intellectual and being seen as one are two different things :)

  2. That was a lesson of sorts for a non-Latin-lingo user like me! Hadn't the foggiest clue about these terms! That said, this was an effortless jibe on the air of ...dare I bring up this term... 'intolerance'!! Non-sequitar, aha! Off to flaunt this new-found wisdom but wary of faux pas!

  3. Very well penned indeed. Examples of Non Sequiturs are not hard find these days is it. People who stand at the theaters must be patriotic :)

    1. Non Sequiturs RULE :) It is examples of anything else that are difficult to find :)