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In the context of language, a statement that refers to itself or contains its own referent (see reference). Self-referential statements may be redundant, e.g., "this is an English sentence", in the sense that the statement informs (see information) what a speaker of the English language already presumes in order to interpret it (see redundancy). They may also be manifestly false or contradictory, e.g., "this is a French sentence" or "this sentence contains four words". Self-referential statements may also be e.g., "this sentence is false". Paradoxical self-reference is said to exhibit a vicious cycle (see paradox). In the more general sense, self-reference is involved in a description which refers to something that affects, controls or has the power to modify the form or the validity of that description. The circularity which the statement implies involves non-linguistic contexts as well. E.g., a self-fulfilling prophesy, double bind, the description of a system by an observer who is part of the system observed, the cognitive organization of biological organisms. In this general sense, self-reference establishes a circularity that may involve not only referential but also causal, interpersonal or instrumental relations and thereby constitute (see constitution) a unity of its own. (Krippendorff)
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