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[Wittrs] Kripke's Language Game Solved [message #3490] Sun, 07 February 2010 18:46 Go to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
Messages: 793
Registered: August 2009
Location: Form of Life
Senior Member

... oh gosh, I'm writing this paper and all the walls have come crashing down. I've bulldozed everything!!!

I've just hog-tied Kripke.

People often wrongly think that the idea of water = H20 is an idea about "water." It is not. It is an idea about water MOLECULES. And for any amount of water, there must be numerous molecules present. Imagine a glass of water. How many molecules would be there? For the sake of pure fun, let's just say 100,000,000. If we were to "name" these molecules, we would give them an identifier that individuated them, like we do with humans. Maybe it would be something like wm00001 wm00002 and so forth. But we have absolutely no need to name them. So instead, science tells us that the molecules are composed of a certain basic chemical structure (H20). And now, the revelation: water molecules are H20.

What is the significance of this to language? I want to suggest it is this. It is a way to introduce a bearer-call that can NEVER become a bearer-assignment, because bearers now take the logical form of the X's of N, rather than the X of N. With "names," bearer-calls always take on the form of the X of N. That's the purpose of names: individuating. But with this sort of creation, which is not a "name" but a particular kind of scientific jargon, the language game has the structure of bearers-called (plural).

Example: what is it that separates all of the humans on the planet from other life forms? What can be said to be the thing that calls to all the bearers? And here, we don't want things like general descriptions, pointing, or titles -- we want markers (branding). That's the key. Branding is such that all of the bearers (plural) call by the same "marks."  Presumably, this is a genetic or DNA sort of thingy (I'm not a scientist! I'm a languagologist. That's a funny).      
And so there you have Kripke's language game, in a nutshell. The name of the game is bearers-called by markings. It would be the same sort of thing as playing 5-card draw with A's high. That is, that is the rule of the game. It's bearers-call by markings. Notice if that if we try to ascribe commonality to the bearers, we get category words. That's not the idea; we want all the things that can be said to share the same markings common to them all. That's what the rules of the game are. Because of this, several things follow: (a) the words that obey these rules do not develop sense in the language game; and (b) it is impossible to play bearer-assignment with them because of the very way the game is set up. For this reason, certain aspects of the language of science resist family resemblance. Furthermore, this isn't revelation more than it is tautological (it is no surprise).


(J I'm going to have to thank you in the paper for helping me get these thoughts clarified. I'm sure more of this is need of coming if you are interested)    

Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
Personal Website: http://seanwilson.org
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
Discussion Group: http://seanwilson.org/wittgenstein.discussion.html

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[Wittrs] Re: Kripke's Language Game Solved [message #3541 is a reply to message #3490] Thu, 11 February 2010 20:05 Go to previous messageGo to next message
J D is currently offline  J D
Messages: 51
Registered: January 2010

A few thoughts. (No Kripke exegesis though. And I do not know whether and on what points we agree or disagree.)

"Water does not contain sodium." Well, seawater is still called "water". So is dishwater. And these both contain sodium. But for a particular purpose, we can reserve "water" for, e.g. water distilled or filtered to a certain standard. Then we might say that such filtered water will contain no more than x parts per million of sodium. And this statement might be a definition of water for purposes of some experiment, medical procedure, manufacturing process, et al. Or it might be a specification of the efficacy of the filtration process. Or it might be a standard by which the success of filtering a particular batch of water is to be assessed.

"Water" used in such a restricted sense - purified water - is also H2O. Chemists use chemical formulae to describe volumes, not just individual molecules.

"Water molecules do not contain sodium." That's a rule of grammar. What would we count a discovering that a water molecule contained a sodium atom?

(Keeping in mind various remarks of Wittgenstein's about certainty, about symptoms and criteria, about shifting riverbeds, about agreement not only in definitions but opinions, agreement not just in methods of measurement but in results of measurement, and so forth.)

But there is a transition from talking about the molecules that make up "this stuff" and talking about individual molecules.

Any attempt to define homo sapiens or any other species is going to face borderline cases. (Basic evolutionary theory. And a consequence of the literalness of "family resemblance" in such cases.)

Your use of "bearer-calls" and "bearer-assignments" is getting less and less clear to me.


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[Wittrs] Re: 08 - [C] Re: Kripke's Language Game Solved [message #3550 is a reply to message #3541] Thu, 11 February 2010 21:49 Go to previous message
Rajasekhar is currently offline  Rajasekhar
Messages: 52
Registered: August 2009

Nature of prefix and suffix may be able to clear your doubt regarding  "bearer-calls" and "bearer-assignments" thank you

--- On Fri, 12/2/10, J D <ubersicht@gmail.com> wrote:

From: J D <ubersicht@gmail.com>
Subject: 08 - [C] [Wittrs] Re: Kripke's Language Game Solved
To: wittrsamr@freelists.org
Date: Friday, 12 February, 2010, 7:44 AM

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