“How I Overcame My Gravity,” Fitz-James O’Brien, 1862 – A science enthusiast discovers a toy which employs a new, anti-gravity force “not a whit more mysterious than the assumed force which is said to draw all things toward the center of the earth, and keep the planets in their places.” Ask what that is and they say gravity. Ask what gravity is and they say the force which draws matter to the earth. Tautological. “…And so the game of science runs. Arbitrary names are forced on you as facts. From battledore to battledore the shuttlecock is sent flying. The result becomes the definition and the explanation.” He believes he’s found a means of aerial locomotion, but it’s all a dream.
Comments: In a way, anticipates later arguments that all language is self-referential; here, some scientific arguments are revealed as tautological.
Author: Wikipedia: “Fitz James O’Brien (also spelled Fitz-James; December 31, 1828 – April 6, 1862) was an Irish-born American writer.”