René Daumal

Formal Logic of Pataphysics

Pataphysics proceeds by means of pataphysical sophisms. The pataphysical sophism is a proposition which brings into play syllogisms in a nonconclusive mode, but which become conclusive as soon as certain terms are changed in a manner that, moreover, the mind grasps as quite obvious; this change leads immediately to a second change of the same definitions, which again renders nonconclusive the modes of the syllogism being used, and so on indefinitely. And the object of pataphysical knowledge is none other than the very law governing these changes. Pataphysical reasoning, rather than progressing according to the relationships of extension between terms, is endowed with an instantaneous and fluid reality for the very comprehension of concepts; it is able to slide through that dimension of reasoning which everyday logic reductively conceives of as a single immobile point. The reality of thought moves along a string of absurdities, which is true to the great principle that evidence cloaks itself in absurdity as its only means of being perceived. Whence the humorous appearance of pataphysical reasoning, which at first glance seems ridiculous, then on closer examination seems to contain a hidden meaning, then at even closer range indubitably ridiculous, then again even more profoundly true, and so on, as the evidence and the ludicrousness of the proposition go on growing and mutually reinforcing each other indefinitely.

— René Daumal, “Pataphysics and the Revelation of Laughter” (1929)

SOURCE: Daumal, René. “Pataphysics and the revelation of laughter” (1929), in Pataphysical Essays, translated by Thomas Vosteen (Cambridge, MA: Wakefield Press, 2012), pp. 2-14. (Imagining Science; 4) This section: pp. 8-9.

’Pataphysical computing links:

Illposed Software | Philosophy

The Principals of 'Pataphysical Programming by Darko Svitek, Chief Philosopher at Illposed Software

PRASCAL: a pataphysical programming language by Andrew Hugill and Hongji Yang

Andrew Hugill: Pataphysics

’Pataphysics and Computing by Andrew Hugill

Patalogic in the Garden of Sidamo by R. Dumain

Definition of ’Pataphysics by Alfred Jarry

Laughter by Marcel Schwob

Magritte, la Pataphysique et son Collège

Alfred Jarry’s Time Machine & Michael Moorcock’s The Traps of Time
with 1979 reprint cover illustration by Adrian Chesterman

What is the Relationship Between Logic and Reality?
by R. Dumain

Alfred Jarry’s “How to Construct a Time Machine”: A Web Guide

Surrealism: Selected Links

Irony, Paradox, & Reductio ad Absurdum: Selected Online Sources

Ars Combinatoria Study Guide

Humor & Philosophy: Selected Bibliography

Irony, Humor, & Cynicism Study Guide


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