In Napoléon le Petit Victor Hugo writes:
Now, get seven million five hundred thousand votes to declare that two and two make five, that the straight line is the longest road, that the whole is less than its part; get it declared by eight millions, by ten millions, by a hundred millions of votes, you will not have advanced a step.What can we do with this? Most highbrows will immediately recall a remark by Elizabeth Anscombe in her essay on "Modern Moral Philosophy" concerning Kant's Duty Ethics and the legislative weight of philosophical opinions:
Kant introduces the idea of “legislating for oneself,” which is as absurd as if in these days, when majority votes command great respect, one were to call each reflective decision a man made a vote resulting in a majority, which as a matter of proportion is overwhelming, for it is always 1-0. The concept of legislation requires superior power in the legislator. His own rigoristic convictions on the subject of lying were so intense that it never occurred to him that a lie could be relevantly described as anything but just a lie (e.g. as “a lie in such-and-such circumstances”). His rule about universalizable maxims is useless without stipulations as to what shall count as a relevant description of an action with a view to constructing a maxim about it.To bring things full circle then, we might remark that asserting "2 + 2 = 5" is nothing but a lie, and that any relevant descriptions (outside of theoretical assertions) regarding the efficacy of the statement "2 + 2 = 5" are impossible, as surely the grammar of the statement "2 + 2 =" must always result in "4".
To add further interest to this line of inquiry, we might bring in G. E. Moore's naturalistic fallacy, which certainly lends no credence whatsoever to the proposition (i.e. "2 + 2 = 5"). Compare "2 + 2 ought to = 5" which is patently absurd, for in the case of arithmetic equations, ought is never part of a legitimate statement or a sensible expression. The question is rather one of identity. 2 + 2 is 4.
Now, is the "truth" identical to itself? History will show that awkward thinkers have said "no" and impressed many.
I have said very little here that needs to be said. But that little ought to mean a lot.