A Quine!

Willard Van Orman Quine was an American philosopher and logician in the analytic tradition, recognized as “one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century.” Wikipedia

I’m pretty sure you never heard of him, but he created a stir of sorts in intellectual circles a while back because of some of the things he thought up, one of which is a type of self-referential statement. I’ve mentioned Gödel’s Proof a couple times (here and here) and his proof involves self-referential statements, so I ran into Quine’s stuff while I was studying Gödel. I think the reference to quine was in the April 1962 issue of Scientific American or Gödel Escher Bach, but I don’t remember for sure, and I don’t have a copy of either publication handy to go look.

Okay, so what’s a quine? Mainly you find them in computing circles. It’s a program that creates a copy of itself. To refer to Wikipedia again,

quine is a non-empty computer program which takes no input and produces a copy of its own source code as its only output.

But it doesn’t have to be a computer program. Sometimes you can make a sentence that refers to itself in the manner of a quine, and here I found a comic that gives us a nice example. Hey, sometimes comics are pretty sophisticated!

At least I think it’s a quine…