irrelevance of contradictions

As everyone knows some contradictions are merely surface contradictions (like ‘jumbo shrimp’) and can be ignored (or joked about), and intermittent contradictions can often be shrugged off as ‘the exception that proves the rule’, or even ‘collateral damage’. Yet other contradictions arise from the failure to distinguish between meta-level and object-level. For example, “We’re not expecting any emergencies.” is not the oxymoron it might seem (and neither is “Never say ‘never’.”).

Three more takes on contradictions are worth highlighting:

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”
— Walt Whitman

“contradictions, inherent in ideological theories, are never a serious embarrassment to them. For ideologies are not aimed at deepening cognition, but at determining the will.”
— Hans Kelsen (p. 286 of ‘Pure Theory of Law’)

“Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.”
— G. K. Chesterton

keywords: Logic, distinction