I'd imagine that some people feel changes and endings in their lives the way you can feel them gathering in movies or songs: the acceleration and collection of rhythm, the weight and bate of breath in the lungs, the rolling announcement of something inevitable. But for me things end like rain. There's no moment in which to see that final plane of water. You can't catch the last layer of drops or the first inch of dry space. You can only step outside and say oh the rain is over and feel the nerves of wet earth all around you, like tender, new skin. Oh, you say, it's over.
For months and months, there was a drought here. The ground was hard and splintered like old wood. Instead of autumn, a brown, snapping summer arrived, a season outside of time's covenant. And then on Thanksgiving it started to rain, and it didn't stop until all the warmth had bled out of the air, and once it was cold it began to snow, and the snow still hasn't melted.
In the car with my father, I said, "It's because it rained. It got cold after that."
My father said, "Post hoc ergo propter hoc."
Which is Latin for "My daughter is wrong."
But I didn't mind being wrong, just this one time, because my mistake would serve a greater purpose.
"Hey!" I said. "It's cold because it rained. But really it rained because it is cold, right?"
"Well, it rains because one pressure system --"
"So if I say it's going to get cold tomorrow and you say how do you know? and I say because it's going to rain tonight, I'm begging the question!"
That's right, people. This is the one critical detail I feel is important enough to occupy this farewell space.
Begging the question is employing circular logic so that the evidence you use to support your claim is actually dependent on the claim being true. For example:
Claim: It's going to get cold.
Proffered Evidence: I know it will get cold because it is going to rain.
The implication is that the rain will make it cold. But in fact, the low pressure system moving cooler air into the area will cause the rain -- in other words, the rain will be caused by the fact that it is colder. Therefore, the rain cannot be used as evidence to support the supposition that it will become colder any more than I can say that the reason I know it is going to rain is that I know if I leave my clothes outside they will get wet. This is begging the question!
When someone tells you that begging the question does not mean raising the question, that does not beg the question what does beg the question mean. It raises the question.
And now I've answered it.
So is it over? I don't think it is.
But then again, I'm usually the last to know.