“The Gem” or The Worst Argument in the World

Last Eden

In 1985, Australian philosopher David Stove held a “Competition to Find the Worst Argument in the World.” He split the points between how bad the argument itself was, and how influential it has been in the history of thought. In the end, he awarded the prize to himself, for the following argument (or rather, argument schema), which he christened “The Gem”:

We can know things only if condition C, which is necessary for knowledge, is satisfied,


We cannot know things as they are in themselves.

Condition C can be any number of things:

  • as they are related to us
  • under the forms of our perception and understanding
  • insofar as they fall under our conceptual schemes
  • insofar as they enter our minds
  • insofar as they are conceptualized by means of language
  • insofar as they are mediated by society or culture

As Stove points out, this argument is a good…

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