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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Tautology

 

A rhetorical tautology may be described as the saying of the same thing twice in different words, generally considered to be a fault of style (e.g., they arrived one after the other in succession). In other words, it’s superfluously redundant.

 

On the other hand, a logical tautology is a proposition that is always true, because it excludes no logical possibilities. Such statements provide nothing of value. For instance, “I’ll either make a salient point in this blogpost or I won’t.”

 

According to one source, “If a logical compound statement always produces the truth (true value), then it is called a tautology. The opposite of tautology is called fallacy or contradiction, in which the compound statement is always false.” For more information on the latter, see Logical Fallacies.

 

I think it’s important to understand tautologies, especially when practicing Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). This is because comprehension about how irrational beliefs function may benefit those who choose to dispute these often illogical and unreasonable constructs.

 

For example, if you used a logical form whereby p or not p is true, this formula is akin to saying, “The Earth will be destroyed by an asteroid today or the Earth will not be destroyed by an asteroid today.” This is a true statement regardless of whether or not p itself is true or false.

 

How might a tautology function when someone self-disturbs using irrational beliefs? Person X, who perceivably has abandonment issues, my unhelpfully believe, “People claim to care for me will stay or people who claim to care for me will leave.”

 

If a person Y, who claims to care for person X, stays, then the tautology is rendered correct. Still, if person X’s self-fulfilling prophecy about individuals who claim to care winds up in abandonment, as person Y eventually decides to leave, person X’s tautology is still correct.

 

If person Y stays, person X may be waiting for the other shoe to drop at any moment. In this way, sometimes people force an unpleasant action to occur, because they unproductively believe in the inevitability of abandonment.

 

Still, when other people leave, the person X’s of the world can say to themselves, “See? I knew it! I knew they’d leave, because they always do!” In some cases, a tautology is formed and then unhelpful behavior is used to bring about the predicted truthfulness of its claim.

 

Notice that I stated person X “perceivably has abandonment issues,” inferring that it isn’t the act of someone leaving which justifies this supposed condition. This is because, from an REBT perspective, the activating event (abandonment) isn’t what causes an unpleasant consequence (e.g., sorrow).

 

Although the person X’s of the world may believe in an Action-Consequence connection, REBT maintains that people disturb themselves with a Belief-Consequence connection. Therefore, what person X believes is what causes an issue, not the abandonment itself.

 

Tautologies of this sort are what I work with clients to challenge. Simply because one maintains a tautological claim to truth either way doesn’t mean that the unhelpful proposal put forward is rational. It is or it isn’t that simple. (See what I did there?)

 

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

 

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

 

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

 

 

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


 

References:

 

BYJU’s. (n.d.). Tautology. Retrieved from https://byjus.com/maths/tautology/

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Blog – Categories: Disputation. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/blog/categories/disputation

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Blog – Categories: Logical fallacies. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/blog/categories/logical-fallacies

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/disclaimer

Hollings, D. (2023, September 8). Fair use. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/fair-use

Hollings, D. (2023, October 12). Get better. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/get-better

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/

Hollings, D. (2023, May 18). Irrational beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/irrational-beliefs

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/life-coaching

Hollings, D. (2023, January 8). Logic and reason. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/logic-and-reason

Hollings, D. (2022, March 24). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rational-emotive-behavior-therapy-rebt

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/self-disturbance

Hollings, D. (2022, December 23). The A-C connection. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-a-c-connection

Hollings, D. (2022, December 25). The B-C connection. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-b-c-connection

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