The World of Beards locked resident philospher, Toulloise D’Edward, in a room with a bottle of Pernod and 40 Gaulloise snouts and asked him “what is a beard”? Here he speaks his brain.
Bonjour, my name iz Professor Toulloise d’Edward. I have been asked by World of Beards to provide some insight into the philosophical underpinnings of la barbe. The first question I would like to pose World of Beards’ global readership iz ‘what is a beard’? I can ‘ear a collective sigh as the question eez read, and the scoffing comments of the over-confident layperson “I know what a beard iz, ‘ow ridiculous”. But if we apply a little scrutiny to the question we see that all iz not so clear!
A way to apprehend the difficulty of beard definition iz via Sorites Paradox. The name ‘sorites’ derives from the Greek word soros meaning ‘heap’. The following sequence explicates the little-by-little (il)logical sequence of the heap paradox.
1 grain of wheat does not make a heap.
If 1 grain of wheat does not make a heap then 2 grains of wheat do not.
If 2 grains of wheat do not make a heap then 3 grains of wheat do not…
If 9,999 grains of wheat do not make a heap then 10,000 do not.
10,000 grains of wheat do not make a heap.
Surely we see now that the same argument applies to male facial growth. (Of course it is different for a woman as even the slightest facial hair on a female constitutes a beard).
1mm of stubble does not make a beard.
If 1mm of stubble does not make a beard then 2mm of stubble do not.
If 2mm of stubble do not make a beard then 3mm of stubble do not…
If 9,999mm of stubble do not make a beard then 10,000mm of stubble do not.
10,000mm of stubble do not make a beard.
I am sure now that you will not be so sure to call a beard a beard! The heap paradox shows that even a facial growth of infinite length cannot be defined as a beard with any confidence. Of course our empirically-minded friends in the social sciences have established what they believe to be the measurement of facial hair poised precisely between stubble and beard: 4.35 mm (exactly the length sported by TV’s Russell Brand). I will leave your readers to judge the validity of this finding for themselves!
But now I bid you adieu, and leave you with the wisdom of my mentor, the late great Jacques-Louis le Vendredi: ‘A beard is much like a woman – a pleasant decoration for a while but ultimately pointless’.
Do you have a reposte? Do you even have a beard? The World of Beards invites you to comment.