Date: Wed, 12 Oct 1994 04:58:55 -0700

From: James Beniger beniger[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]RCF.USC.EDU

Subject: Source of Kripke Story

My source for the Kripke story was a New York Times Magazine cover story

on him roughly 10 years ago. Because the article was based on interviews

with an impressive number of scholars from several countries, including

Kripke, I tend to believe that the story is not (entirely) apocryphal.

But I wasn't there, either.

-- Jim Beniger


On Tue, 11 Oct 1994, Larry Horn wrote:

I don't know if the story is apocryphal, but I've always heard it cited

(including every time I have talked about "logical" double negation before an

audience containing philosophers) along the following lines:

[Speaker] "...and while two negations often cancel out to an affirmative,

there is no known attestation of two affirmatives reducing to a


[Sidney Morgenbesser, in a loud sotto voce] "Yeah, yeah."

I've come across the same anecdote a few times in print since including it in

my 1989 book "A Natural History of Negation" (p. 554) and in my 1991 CLS

paper "Duplex Negatio Affirmat...: The Economy of Double Negation" (plug,

plug) and each time the attribution was to Morgenbesser. From what I've heard

of Morgenbesser, master of the rapier-like counterexample through many decades

at Columbia, and what I know of Kripke, the standard version of the anecdote

appears more likely. But was I dere, Charley? No.

Larry Horn