Disputed Questions

Translations from the Questiones Avia.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Whether borogroves are all mimsy

Objection 1. It would seem that borogroves are not all mimsy. For to say that one thing is all or entirely another is to say that the idea of the first thing is entirely contained in the idea of the second. But mimsiness is, as the Philosopher states (Organon), an accident, while a borogrove is a substance. And no substance can be an accident. Therefore borogroves cannot be all mimsy.

Objection 2. Further, borogroves are subject to change, which implies that either their mimsiness changes, in which case as its mimsy diminishes a borogrove cannot be all mimsy, that is to say, the perfection of mimsiness; or that something other than their mimsiness changes, in which case it is manifest that the borogrove is not entirely mimsy.

On the contrary, Lewis Carroll states, "All mimsy were the borogroves."

I answer that, to say that borogroves are all mimsy can be understood in three ways. First, in the sense that borogroves belong to mimsy as a species to a genus. Second, that borogroves always possess complete mimsy. Third, that under certain circumstances borogroves possess complete mimsy, and it is in this third sense that we understand the borogroves to be all mimsy.

Reply to Objection 1.This is the first sense, of relating species to genus, and this is not the sense intended.

Reply to Objection 2.This is the second sense, but that this is not the sense intended is shown by Lewis Carrol's observation that "'Twas brillig," implying that, if 'twasn't brillig, the borogroves would not necessarily be all mimsy.


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