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[Wittrs] Re: Games with Logic and Bachelor [message #3502 is a reply to message #3500] Tue, 09 February 2010 20:07 Go to previous messageGo to next message
jrstern is currently offline  jrstern
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--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, Sean Wilson <whoooo26505@...> wrote:
>
> ... I can't follow your comment. Kitties are home to the Kitty family and cows to cows. A better one would be: is a puma a kitty. The issue is family resemblance. As to what goals two children can score calling kitties "cows," one would need to know more about what is going on. Is the Kitty really fat? If your point is merely that the kids don't know the language, that's not a point (or a goal) at all. Of course, one could imagine a scenario where the word "kitty" and "cow" were mis-learned, so that each was used for the other. Here, we have the same goals scored as any other member of the language culture, just under warrant of the wrong uniform.

A game was played, a child scored a point by succeeding with
an indexical reference, or maybe there was some point.

Why would you respond with a "puma" example? Certainly there
is some resemblance between kitty and cow, mammals, animals,
objects at a distance. The point is, the game can be played
with or without the resemblance, or with tiny or arbitrary
or idiosyncratic resemblances. Who decides? Or is the
question after all not valid?

Josh



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[Wittrs] Re: Games with Logic and Bachelor [message #3503 is a reply to message #3502] Tue, 09 February 2010 20:28 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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(Josh)

... actually, no. The game IS THE RESEMBLANCE. (And the resemblance isn't visual either, in case that is around the corner, although visual similarity can play a role in it). And so if the resemblance is remote or contrived or arbitrary, the play won't score a goal or be very good. Who decides on what is resemblance? It isn't an act of politics; its one of cognition and social learning. 

Again, I am lost as to the points you want to make. Is Turing the one who called the kitty a cow?

The only way you could get "kitty" into cow under warrant of "mammal" is to have a culture of speakers who did not know much of mammals and who thought kitties to be the popular of the species. Imagine a group of Aliens who speak poor English. The two alien children see a cow and say "kitty," meaning, in essence, major-mammal.

(I have a colleague who studies wolfs as endangered species. Because I know nothing of the matter, I frequently refer to his pet project as studying "that dog." This is the only thing that comes close to describing what I mean about the aliens above. For you to play the language game you want to play, certain conditions on the ground have to exist. You don't have them).

Like I say, we could invent one not involving mammal as the entry port. Imagine a child calling a kitty a cow if it is incredibly obese. That's a goal in the language game. Without more, your example isn't a goal, it's a confusion. And as such, it isn't a counter example to anything anyone has said.

Regards

SW 



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[Wittrs] Re: Games with Logic and Bachelor [message #3505 is a reply to message #3503] Tue, 09 February 2010 22:58 Go to previous messageGo to next message
jrstern is currently offline  jrstern
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--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, Sean Wilson <whoooo26505@...> wrote:
>
> ... actually, no. The game IS THE RESEMBLANCE.

That tells me nothing.

> (And the resemblance isn't visual either, in case that is around the corner, although visual similarity can play a role in it). And so if the resemblance is remote or contrived or arbitrary, the play won't score a goal or be very good. Who decides on what is resemblance? It isn't an act of politics; its one of cognition and social learning. 

Again, you are being very free with terms that have no foundation.

Are you familiar with how children actually learn?

They do make funny category errors. I forget the proper terms of art, but they make magnitude errors, so that very big and very small fall in the same category, they might say "big" to both.

The point is, the normative decisions are one game, but the mechanics of the process are another.

> Again, I am lost as to the points you want to make. Is Turing the one who called the kitty a cow?

I don't think so.

Fodor goes on about horse and cow at great length, if you like.


> The only way you could get "kitty" into cow under warrant of "mammal" is to have a culture of speakers who did not know much of mammals and who thought kitties to be the popular of the species. Imagine a group of Aliens who speak poor English. The two alien children see a cow and say "kitty," meaning, in essence, major-mammal.

My point, such as it is, is, again, that you assume there is a reference to your game, such that we do it one way and aliens another.

This is not a point that Turing made explicitly with Wittgenstein, but it is one that I believe follows from the difference in their works. Once one sees there are two games going, one can reconcile Turing and Wittgenstein, I believe.

> (I have a colleague who studies wolfs as endangered species. Because I know nothing of the matter, I frequently refer to his pet project as studying "that dog." This is the only thing that comes close to describing what I mean about the aliens above. For you to play the language game you want to play, certain conditions on the ground have to exist. You don't have them).

Well, that's actually a rather pertinent example, isn't it?

> Like I say, we could invent one not involving mammal as the entry port. Imagine a child calling a kitty a cow if it is incredibly obese. That's a goal in the language game. Without more, your example isn't a goal, it's a confusion. And as such, it isn't a counter example to anything anyone has said.

I just get twitchy when you say "THE language game".

As I, and others, get twitchy when Wittgenstein makes it a GAME.

Certainly there are game aspects, but that seems not entirely grounded, seems to leave out - y'know, the world.

Which leads others to go for neo-essentialists like Kripke.

My preference is to recognize the game and its contexts in the world, or something along those lines.

Want to avoid, in Sellars' phrase, the "myth of the given".

Gotta run.

Josh



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[Wittrs] Re: Games with Logic and Bachelor [message #3507 is a reply to message #3505] Wed, 10 February 2010 12:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
jrstern is currently offline  jrstern
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--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "jrstern" <jrstern@...> wrote:
>
> Gotta run.

OK I'm back, just to put some context on that last.

From a Wittgenstein perspective, I suppose that yes, pretty much
anything I write about here will be in some way related to the
Turing-Wittgenstein relationship, which in turn is about something
like the roles of reductionism, mechanism, and logic to the language
game and "semantic" issues generally.

And, much that I write, especially currently, will likely be related
to something that Fodor has written about, for at least that last
thirty years. Fodor has long tried to reconcile something like these
two sides also, though with few direct references to Wittgenstein
or Wittgensteinian thinking (since Fodor's major work is after all
"The Language of Thought", and yet, they also share interest in the
linguistic turns in philosophy of mind. Fodor refers to Turing on occassion, often putting into Turing's mind things that I do not believe ever appear in Turing's writing. IOW, bad references.

Anyhow, what I meant to say briefly was that my reactions to your post are just quick reactions to the Wittgensteinianisms from the post-Wittgensteinian perspectives, more of Quine and Sellars in this case, than of Fodor. Kripkean talk tends to leap right over those, for better or worse. But regarding horse-cow or even kitty-cow, Fodor calls that the disjunction problem, if you want to follow up on it.
http://www.google.com/#hl=en&source=hp&q=fodor+disjunction+
But, well, yes, you see quickly it is a _causal_ _theory_ of _representation_, all terms that I guess you find anti-Wittgensteinian. Yet, I think the problem itself, if not Fodor's solutions (such as they are) to it, remain.

Josh


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[Wittrs] Meaning, Intent and Reference (Parsing Fodor?) [message #3508 is a reply to message #3507] Wed, 10 February 2010 13:38 Go to previous messageGo to next message
SWMirsky is currently offline  SWMirsky
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--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "jrstern" <jrstern@...> wrote:

<snip>

> But regarding horse-cow or even kitty-cow, Fodor calls that the disjunction problem, if you want to follow up on it.
> http://www.google.com/#hl=en&source=hp&q=fodor+disjunction+
> But, well, yes, you see quickly it is a _causal_ _theory_ of _representation_, all terms that I guess you find anti-Wittgensteinian. Yet, I think the problem itself, if not Fodor's solutions (such as they are) to it, remain.
>
> Josh
> =========================================

So what's the Fodor theory of meaning in a nutshell? (I took a look at one of the links you provided, Josh, and I have to say it looks pretty convoluted to me. Can it be stated in relatively simple terms?)

As I've said here before I think that meaning is a function of minds, that we never have meanings without minds and that grasping meaning is one of the features of mind (one of the characteristics of what we call "mind").

I would go even further and say that to grasp meaning is a form of intentionality, maybe THE quintessential form.

I would describe the process of grasping meaning as one of linking particular inputs to other inputs in the context of multiple mappings of prior inputs which combine to represent the many layers of our experience, including aspects of our external and internal worlds. Thus, a symbol or mental image has a meaning insofar as it relates (via an association) to other symbols and pictures we have in our minds.

When Neil saw those markings on the cellar door (or was it a tool shed?) he initially associated them with a more or less abstract image of a tricycle, an object with which, as a child, he was already familiar. Later as he learned his letters he came to recognize a word in that configuration of markings and the recognized word superseded in his mind the former association with a mental picture of a trike so that, when he saw those markings, new associations popped up for him, e.g., that of tools, maybe some particular tool(s), etc. The same markings (or token) had now two meanings though one faded as the other took on more significance for him.

Over the years, obviously, he still recalled his early association with the markings but presumably the things he thinks of first now, upon seeing those (or remembering them) are the linguistic associations, the linquistic meaning.

I recall that experience I had driving up from the Carolinas when I saw a sign and didn't initially grasp the meaning of the unusual combination of words and then I did. What happened in the instant of grasping is that suddenly I had certain pictures in my head that weren't there before. Suddenly I had associations where before I first had nothing and then, struggling to "get" it, I had the wrong, and somewhat confusing, picture (a bonfire with people tossing light bulbs on the flames!).

The instant of understanding, of getting the meaning, though was concurrent (as far as I could tell) with the occurrence of a particular picture of what the sign was calling on me to do that finally made sense to me in the context of it being a road sign for drivers (it said "burn lights with wipers" and that suddenly crystallized for me as "turn on headlights when using windshield wipers"). Then I had a series of images of myself reaching across the dashboard to turn on the windshield wipers and then of my car driving with the wipers and headlights on in a rainstorm, etc.

At the time of this occurrence I had been engaged in arguing with a certain DRTst about the adequacy of Wittgenstein's account of meaning as use (the DRTst maintained that meaning was more than use and that meaning-as-use only accounted for one type of meaning we give to words, the so-called pragmatic sort, while totally missing the fixed references of Kripke). What I realized at that point was that there were clearly mental images associated with at least some occurrences of meaning (I later concluded that all the usual uses of "meaning" involved such mental images) but that the DRTst was wrong in trying to say there was one fixed reference because, if there were, then we would all expect to get the same associated picture all the time when the same terms are used and there is no reason to think we do that (and plenty of reason to think we don't).

I had at least two distinct mental pictures in grasping the intent of the sign makers, in grasping the semantic content of that sign. Moreover the pictures I had, which included turning on the windshield wipers from my dashboard and driving my car in a heavy downpour with the wipers and headlights on would most certainly have differed in the particulars from what others might have mentally "seen" if they were having those two images.

I saw a certain dashboard, certain knobs on it, and so forth. Others presumably would see dashboards and buttons with which they were more familiar. I saw a street in a heavy downpour with my car driving along while others would have seen different streets, different lighting (night or day, overcast or not), different degrees of rainfall, different cars, different traffic configurations, etc.

There are enough distinct constituent elements to such mental images to make it unlikely any two of us would have them in the same way or that we would (in keeping with Neil's point and Edelman's) expect to even see them twice in the same way. So the meaning could not be the particular associated image even if it was dependent on the mental pictures involved.

But if not some particular image, what then? And how would we ever understand one another if we couldn't recognize the same things in our various uses of the same terms?

The solution, it seems to me, is to suppose the kind of complex network of mental images that I've already alluded to. Thus we find shared meaning not in any particular image that we each have but in the role(s) of the various images we have in a larger complex of images which we do share. The larger complex would not be a match, part for part, with anything others have in their minds per se but it would match sufficiently to enable us to understand one another if we can "place" a given term into such a shared system.

If the larger system of related images is close enough in person A to the one held by person B, then they can share understandings, grasp one another's meanings.

And this also suggests why it is that we very often find it hard to understand others or why translation from language to language can often be indeterminate and fuzzy.

Anyway, this is where I have come on this question of what is meaning and what does it mean to say we grasp or don't grasp the meaning of something. What I'd like to better understand is how Fodor's apparently rival account provides a different explanation.

SWM

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[Wittrs] Re: Games with Logic and Bachelor [message #3509 is a reply to message #3496] Wed, 10 February 2010 19:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
waveletter is currently offline  waveletter
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Hi Sean:

Some follow-up comments.

--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, Sean Wilson <whoooo26505@...> wrote:
>
> Hello Ron.
>
> Regarding 242: "If language is to be a means of communication there must be agreement not only in definitions but also (queer as this may sound) in judgments. This seems to abolish logic, but does not do so.--It is one thing to describe methods of measurement, and another to obtain and state results of measurement. But what we call 'measuring' is partly determined by a certain constancy in results of measurement."
>
> 1. I would take 242 as being directed toward the private language argument. I would also think what it really says it this: to understand (and navigate) sense, one must share the operations of language. No one would take the position that this excludes logic, because the language of logic generates meaning the same as, e.g., the language of art. That's the key. What brains do with language and how they come to understand meaning.
>

(rla) I agree that it's about the PLA and understanding the sense of linguistic forms requires a shared set of operations. One of the behaviors language users engage in is making definitions, such as "a bachelor is an unmarried man". (N.B. Earlier I think someone said that a bachelor is an unmarried male, and this is a mistake, but one I've seen in philosophy texts.) The definition is rule and to follow the rule is to use it to say things like
(a) Tiger is married to Elin, so he's not a bachelor.
but not
(b) Tiger is married to Elin, and he's still a bachelor.

(rla) The person that says things like (b) is breaking the rule, the definition of the word, and engaging in behavior divergent from the linguistic community to which we belong, but there may be nothing we can do to stop that person. He may insist that he's following the rule; maybe it's the sense he has of Tiger's adventures. Fine, but to think one is following the rule is not to follow the rule. That is the point of PI 202.

> (Note also that for two people to use the school-boy sense of bachelor, they would both need to know definitions.)
>
> 2. My disagreement is over the value of using symbolic logic statements as though they establish some kind of universal proof. As though they amount to some kind of geometry. Witttgensteinians understand that the sentence, "If Tiger is married, he cannot be a bachelor," is determined by the sense of the words in the language game (including the logical if-then). The languaging culture (and what the brain does in the cognition of words) is what fundamentally determines "bachelor" and "married." And therefore, if you force the logic statement to recognize family resemblance, the statement breaks down on its own terms.

(rla) Of course, logic does not constitute some kind of universal proof. Neither does geometry. Both are part of our language, not some transcendent toolkit for finalizing justifications. Dummett argued famously that logical deduction could be justified, but I have my doubts about this. Also, I'm pretty damn sure that JD did not argue and does not hold that symbolic logic is useful for establishing universal proofs. Definitions and logical deduction, when codified in our practice of making rules for them--to continue the metrological analogy of PI 242--describe how we make measurements (i.e. connotations and denotations, senses and references) and are quite different from actually achieving a measurement (i.e. a connoting or denoting speech act).

(rla) I thought in your reply to JD that you were taking a subjectivist jag.

>
> CF: "If Tiger is any sense of "married," he cannot be any sense of "bachelor."
>

(rla) Well, this ^ isn't correct, and it doesn't follow from our linguistic community's adherence to a rule to the effect that a bachelor is an unmarried man.

> Note also that for Wittgenstein to have reached the idea that dissolving sense dissolves all philosophic controversies, is to say that the achievement of sense-agreement makes disputes become informational. When we know the sense of "bachelor" and of "married," all that is left is either the performance of the logic (if-then) or the gathering of information about what Tiger does in his private life. When sense is resolved, there are no more traffic accidents.
>
> That's what true philosophy really is: someone directing the language traffic so that there are no accidents.

(rla) Symbolic logic, including the deviants, like modal and temporal logic, is, I would agree, a set of rules of the road for avoiding linguistic potholes (the Liar Paradox), accidents ("he's a two-month old bachelor, but he's a married woman"), and congestion (metaphor: "Tiger is a married bachelor").
       
>        
> 3. I didn't take my message as a "flame" of our friend J. "I release you" was Ghandalf helping Theoden from his spell. It's metaphor and theatrics. The point could really be expressed thusly: a full-blooded Wittgensteinian having a say about the methodology of a three-quarter-blooded one (or whatever fraction it is). See point 2. The goal is over the method and approach to "propositions."   
>  

(rla) I was trying to match your theatrics with some faux umbrage, but I guess I need practice. Eh, not sure who's 75% here--certainly not me! I don't even have ambitions toward the low 50s.

Thanks!
--Ron

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[Wittrs] Re: Meaning, Intent and Reference (Parsing Fodor?) [message #3512 is a reply to message #3508] Wed, 10 February 2010 20:52 Go to previous messageGo to next message
jrstern is currently offline  jrstern
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--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "SWM" <SWMirsky@...> wrote:
>
> So what's the Fodor theory of meaning in a nutshell?

That would be telling!

And it would have to be a rather large nutshell.

The short version is that there must be a "language of thought",
Wittgenstein to the contrary, and that the formal (aka computational)
and semantic (aka conceptual) aspects of that language are a "dual
aspect all the way down".

I would not really want to endorse this as such, without some major
revisions. Fodor does NOT want to reduce the semantic to the "formal"
(which I keep putting in quotes because Fodor says he does not really
know what it means either, and I think his choice of terms is very
misleading). I *do* want to reduce the semantic, such as it is, to
the computational (which is not just "formal" in any common sense of
that term). But the computational must still preserve much of the
"semantics" as it has long been known. It's a challenge, it's been
a challenge since Descartes, or Epicurus, but hey we finally got
Democritus' atoms down a few years ago, so maybe we'll get this down
sometime, too.

BTW, I just opened up the issue of the journal Mind from July 2009,
and the first two papers are rather interesting to me, regarding
deflationary theories of truth and a "disjunction of semantics and
ontology", going back to Chomsky. I think there has been a change
in the prevailing tenor of the articles published, and there may be
a new consensus developing about the roles of logic and semantics
in philosophy of mind. Indeed, it may have been forming over the
last ten to twenty-five years, and is just now finally pulling ahead
of the (atavistic) competition.

In the last pages of Fodor's newest, LOT 2, he repeats what he has
long said, along the lines of that he seeks a causal, naturalized
theory of mind (but does not expect one by next Tuesday).

In both Fodor's goal and in the developing consensus, a LOT of the
conventional terms are "dissolved", as a Wittgensteinian might
appreciate. There is a LOT of "meaning is use" in it, and I think
also a push towards the computational side that I keep trying to
work. Give it another ten, twenty years and we may get a clear
picture where it is all going. Maybe I'll get something drafted
and submitted by then!

Josh


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[Wittrs] Re: Games with Logic and Bachelor [message #3513 is a reply to message #3509] Wed, 10 February 2010 20:57 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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(Ron)

... I don't think the matter is going to resolve itself. Here's my final try. (Feel free, of course, to pass along yours or however many you wish)

1. The "rule" that you think accompanies "bachelor" is only a sense. It's a fence in the yard. For two speakers to share the sense, they must both know of it. That's all 242 says.

And speakers who do not observe the fence do not break the rule of the language community, they just adjust the sense (take the fence down, so to speak). The language community does this all the time, with all sorts of words. Think of it as a volleyball net.

Also, this isn't a policy. It's not subject to anything majoritarian. It's governed by how brains process language and by what emerges from people behaving in the language culture. You seem to think that if something has "minority sense," that it breaks a rule. Language has never worked this way.
Indeed, if you were to put this sentence up in front of America right now -- "If Tiger is married, he can't be a bachelor" -- I'd say 50% would say "no." The reason has nothing to do with stupidity and everything to do with connotation, sense, behavior and language. (Note, there are studies by linguists showing this sort of effect even for words like "odd number.") See Steven Pinker, Words and Rules, last chapter.  
   
2. I also cannot accept either your assertion or their examples of how logic keeps language free of accidents. This sounds like Wittgenstein-1 or logical positivists. Logic does no such thing. Logic has never been the custodian of language; it's the other way around. The mistake people make is to think that logic in expression is paramount and that language is easy. It's the other way around. Language is where all the problems are; logic is second-nature.

(This statement here has nothing to to with logic, but rather with grammar. "He's a two-month old bachelor, but he's a married woman." The problem here is that grammar is violated, not logic.)

Here's my point: so long as it is meaningful in language to call Tiger a bachelor -- which it surely is -- you cannot do formal logic upon any statement involving "bachelor" until you have indicated the sense of the expression.    
 
Let's do it this way: to get where you want to go, it seems you'll need to take a path other than by means of Wittgenstein.

"A new-born child has no teeth." -- "A goose has no teeth." -- "A rose has not teeth." -- This last at any rate -- one would like to say -- is obviously true! It is even surer than that a goose has none. -- And yet it is none so clear. For what should a rose's teeth have been? The goose has none in its jaw. And neither, of course, has it any in its wings; but no one means that when he says it has no teeth. -- Why, suppose one were to say: the cow chews its food and then dungs the rose with it, so the rose has teeth in the mouth of a beast. This would not be absurd, because one has no notion in advance where to look for teeth in a rose." PI, page 221.

"Given the two ideas 'fat' and 'lean,' would you be rather inclined to say that Wednesday was fat and Tuesday lean, or vice versa? (I incline decisively towards the former). Now have "fat" and "lean" some different meaning here from their usual one? __ They have a different use. -- So ought I really to have used different words? Certainly not that. -- I want to use THESE words (with their familiar meanings) HERE.-- Now, I say nothing about the causes of this phenomenon. They MIGHT be associations from my childhood. But that is a hypothesis. Whatever the explanation, -- the inclination is there." p. 216 PI.    
(all from part IIxi)
 
Regards.

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: Games with Logic and Bachelor [message #3517 is a reply to message #3509] Wed, 10 February 2010 22:40 Go to previous messageGo to next message
jrstern is currently offline  jrstern
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--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "waveletter" <wavelets@...> wrote:
>
> > That's what true philosophy really is: someone directing the language traffic so that there are no accidents.
>
> (rla) Symbolic logic, including the deviants, like modal and temporal logic, is, I would agree, a set of rules of the road for avoiding linguistic potholes (the Liar Paradox), accidents ("he's a two-month old bachelor, but he's a married woman"), and congestion (metaphor: "Tiger is a married bachelor").


Is that agreement?

Josh



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[Wittrs] Re: Meaning, Intent and Reference (Parsing Fodor?) [message #3518 is a reply to message #3512] Wed, 10 February 2010 22:55 Go to previous messageGo to next message
SWMirsky is currently offline  SWMirsky
Messages: 188
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--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "jrstern" <jrstern@...> wrote:

> --- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "SWM" <SWMirsky@> wrote:
> >
> > So what's the Fodor theory of meaning in a nutshell?

> <snip>
>
> The short version is that there must be a "language of thought",
> Wittgenstein to the contrary, and that the formal (aka computational)
> and semantic (aka conceptual) aspects of that language are a "dual
> aspect all the way down".
>

If I understand this right, he's arguing for something going on in brains that has a one-to-one relationship with the referents outside of brains and he is further saying that the languages we speak and think in and the meanings our thoughts embody are the flip side(?) of the causal events in brains, i.e., that there's a precise parallel of brain event with every meaning, every thought we think linguistically without which our thoughts would lack meaning (content)?


> I would not really want to endorse this as such, without some major
> revisions. Fodor does NOT want to reduce the semantic to the "formal"
> (which I keep putting in quotes because Fodor says he does not really
> know what it means either, and I think his choice of terms is very
> misleading). I *do* want to reduce the semantic, such as it is, to
> the computational (which is not just "formal" in any common sense of
> that term).


<snip>>

> Josh

As you know I think we are in agreement on that (if I understand you right) though it's not because I "want" to be but because I think that's the best account.

How does this Fodorian view (if I've got it right) sit with the account I gave earlier of meaning as connection in a complex web of conserved connections?

Note that I would not say that this is separate from a syntactical account and, indeed, I am of the opinion that it is what we sometimes calls "syntax" (though I really don't like THAT usage, preferring "algorithmic", say) that underlies the complex conectionist web I am alluding to.

SWM

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[Wittrs] Re: Meaning, Intent and Reference (Parsing Fodor?) [message #3521 is a reply to message #3518] Thu, 11 February 2010 00:08 Go to previous messageGo to next message
jrstern is currently offline  jrstern
Messages: 159
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "SWM" <SWMirsky@...> wrote:
>
> > The short version is that there must be a "language of thought",
> > Wittgenstein to the contrary, and that the formal (aka
> > computational) and semantic (aka conceptual) aspects of that
> > language are a "dual aspect all the way down".
>
> If I understand this right, he's arguing for something going on in brains that has a one-to-one relationship with the referents outside of brains and he is further saying that the languages we speak and think in and the meanings our thoughts embody are the flip side(?) of the causal events in brains, i.e., that there's a precise parallel of brain event with every meaning, every thought we think linguistically without which our thoughts would lack meaning (content)?

Oh, ... if I put in Fodor's own words, it would give us both headaches, and I'm not sure I quite understand yours, either. Of course his books are there for your perusal, if you like. But I
warn you, even as Fodor concedes in his most recent, he is very
easy to misread.

Certainly he's a physicalist in that physical brain state
corresponds with meaning, but just what that means (!) is not
necessarily clear, in regards to balancing "methodological solipsism" and correspondence with distal objects.

> How does this Fodorian view (if I've got it right) sit with the account I gave earlier of meaning as connection in a complex web of conserved connections?

I'm not sure if I read your message. Fodor's term of choice is
"modularity", which he corresponds roughly to the idea that you
must have symbolic and semantic genericity a la Chomsky.

It's Fodor's mention of semantics that is easiest to misread,
and that happens to be about 50% of his theory. I've been reading
his stuff for over thirty years, and I am still untangling the
threads.

Josh


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[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: Games with Logic and Bachelor [message #3523 is a reply to message #3513] Thu, 11 February 2010 02:04 Go to previous messageGo to next message
waveletter is currently offline  waveletter
Messages: 13
Registered: February 2010
Junior Member
(Sean)
 
If it's your final try, I accept it. Eh, give me, say, 49%?
 
You don't quote back what I said to what you said; why is that?
 
Thanks!
--Ron

--- On Wed, 2/10/10, Sean Wilson <whoooo26505@yahoo.com> wrote:


From: Sean Wilson <whoooo26505@yahoo.com>
Subject: [C] [Wittrs] Re: Games with Logic and Bachelor
To: wittrsamr@freelists.org
Date: Wednesday, February 10, 2010, 5:57 PM


(Ron)

... I don't think the matter is going to resolve itself. Here's my final try. (Feel free, of course, to pass along yours or however many you wish)
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[Wittrs] Re: Meaning, Intent and Reference (Parsing Fodor?) [message #3525 is a reply to message #3521] Thu, 11 February 2010 11:36 Go to previous messageGo to next message
SWMirsky is currently offline  SWMirsky
Messages: 188
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "jrstern" <jrstern@...> wrote:

> --- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "SWM" <SWMirsky@> wrote:
> >
> > > The short version is that there must be a "language of thought",
> > > Wittgenstein to the contrary, and that the formal (aka
> > > computational) and semantic (aka conceptual) aspects of that
> > > language are a "dual aspect all the way down".
> >
> > If I understand this right, he's arguing for something going on in brains that has a one-to-one relationship with the referents outside of brains and he is further saying that the languages we speak and think in and the meanings our thoughts embody are the flip side(?) of the causal events in brains, i.e., that there's a precise parallel of brain event with every meaning, every thought we think linguistically without which our thoughts would lack meaning
> (content)?


> Oh, ... if I put in Fodor's own words, it would give us both headaches, and I'm not sure I quite understand yours, either. Of course his books are there for your perusal, if you like. But I
> warn you, even as Fodor concedes in his most recent, he is very
> easy to misread.
>


I have the same experience reading Fodor. He's very esoteric. On the other hand I find Dennett pretty easy to grasp and Searle, though he's kind of fuzzy on his terms, is also not all that difficult (though he is hard to pin down because of what I take to be his tendencies to lapse into confusions given his commitment to first and third person ontologies on the one hand vs. causal explanations on the other).

I noted when reading Edelman that he was very, very complex and convoluted and I thought that a serious flaw in his thinking because, when you can't express something in a fairly straightforward way, it suggests you really haven't gotten clear on it yourself.

I thought Hawkins pretty challenging, too, but in the end (probably thanks to his co-author, Blakelee) his ideas were clear if complex and a bit on the abstruse side at their deepest level.

But Fodor just gets my head spinning. I wonder if he is more like Edelman here than Hawkins?


> Certainly he's a physicalist in that physical brain state
> corresponds with meaning, but just what that means (!) is not
> necessarily clear, in regards to balancing "methodological solipsism" and correspondence with distal objects.
>

Yes, not at all clear. The mental language is presumably some corresponding set of processes that underlie each and every distinct thought we have and which somehow get translated into the language(s) we actually speak to one another and think in. What kind of "language" must such a mental language be? How do we discover it, recognize it when we see it, distinguish it from other brain processes, etc.?

I'm skeptical of this approach.


> > How does this Fodorian view (if I've got it right) sit with the account I gave earlier of meaning as connection in a complex web of conserved connections?
>
> I'm not sure if I read your message. Fodor's term of choice is
> "modularity", which he corresponds roughly to the idea that you
> must have symbolic and semantic genericity a la Chomsky.
>


I was curious if his account is necessarily contrary to what I have laid out as an explanation of how we get meaning. After all, I am also in accord that the brain runs processes and that these processes are what underlie and constitute the features we recognize as consciousness in ourselves. But I would not call such processes a "language" in any but a metaphorical sense (though note that Ramachandran does, indeed, refer to such processes as a language though he seems to mean by this just the system of informational transfer within the brain -- is Fodor's proposal no more than Ramachandran's likening of internal brain signaling, from neuron to neuron and neural group to neural group, to the language of the brain then?).


> It's Fodor's mention of semantics that is easiest to misread,
> and that happens to be about 50% of his theory. I've been reading
> his stuff for over thirty years, and I am still untangling the
> threads.
>
> Josh
> =========================================

I tried him a few times and always came away without any clear picture of his thesis. Even his Robot Reply to Searle left me rather cold. Still I have the sense there is something there, something found in his insistence on the primacy of causal relations in giving an account of meaning and semantics. But his ideas just seem to me to lack clarity, to lack focus.

SWM

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[Wittrs] Re: Meaning, Intent and Reference (Parsing Fodor?) [message #3526 is a reply to message #3525] Thu, 11 February 2010 12:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
jrstern is currently offline  jrstern
Messages: 159
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "SWM" <SWMirsky@...> wrote:
>
> I have the same experience reading Fodor.
> He's very esoteric. On the other hand I find
> Dennett pretty easy to grasp and Searle, ...

Fodor requires a bit more philosophical background,
Dennett writes at least half for the layman at all
times. Dennett is an outstanding writer, Fodor is
merely very good. Fodor, I think tries, for better
or worse, to grapple with details, Dennett is more
about frameworks.


> But Fodor just gets my head spinning.
> I wonder if he is more like Edelman here than Hawkins?

I don't think either of those are in the game.


> > Certainly he's a physicalist in that physical brain state
> > corresponds with meaning, but just what that means (!) is not
> > necessarily clear, in regards to balancing "methodological solipsism" and correspondence with distal objects.
>
> Yes, not at all clear. The mental language is
> presumably some corresponding set of processes

Wow there cowboy, slow it down.

Is a language a process? Is English a process?


> that underlie each and every distinct thought
> we have

Does the print on a page "underlie" the
content of the book?


> and which somehow get translated into the
> language(s) we actually speak to one another
> and think in.

Speak, yes.

But the idea of an LOT is that it *is* the language
we think in. *I*, but NOT Fodor, think that the LOT
is not only the language we think in, it IS the
thought itself. Yes, "your thoughts are written in
the brain like writing on the page", that is the
sentence that everyone tries to disclaim before
launching into endless rantings about "thoughts"
and "concepts". Except me. I embrace the demon.


> What kind of "language" must such
> a mental language be?

It is quite clear that the advent of the digital
electronic computer was the motivation for modern
theories like Chomsky's and Fodor's. Any language
should be physically realizable by a TM, and any
language that can be realized by a TM can be
emulated by a UTM, of which you are reading this
on one now. So, it doesn't really matter exactly
what it is like, it will be highly intertranslatable.
It will be interesting to find out, after all,
exactly what it is like, but only for practical
reasons, there is nothing theoretical riding on it
at all.


> How do we discover it, recognize it when we see it,
> distinguish it from other brain processes, etc.?

Compsci 101, intro to programming
Compsci 201, turing machines and automata
compsci 202, neural networks
Compsci 301, compilers
Compsci 401, operating systems
Compsci 501, computational linguistics

Knowing it when you see it, is indeed the question.

It seems likely the brain's physical organization
will be more like the "neural networks", which are
a bit harder to recognize in action, and a bit harder
to translate back to linear, symbolic forms. But
we *do* speak and hear linear language, so there
should be paths to follow, as we develop better
instrumentation.


> I'm skeptical of this approach.

There is no other.

Fodor has always said that,
and I have always agreed.

Josh


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[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: Games with Logic and Bachelor [message #3527 is a reply to message #3523] Thu, 11 February 2010 13:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
Messages: 793
Registered: August 2009
Location: Form of Life
Senior Member

(Ron)

The reason why I don't type my comments underneath the persons quotes is twofold. (1) I don't like the style. If the conversation goes on, especially with several people, it gets hideous in format and really only benefits the two talkers. An onlooker loses interest quickly. (2) Paragraphs, I think, make the remarks more substantive. They force your to organize your points before you offer them. They make you digest the other person's mail before sending your own. It also discourages talking off the top of the head. And as well it discourages placing comments below a sentence, only to find that, three sentences later, something is said that should have erased the first injection. Bottom line: if composition is too easy, the matter starts looking like a chat room. 

Also, the paragraph-format makes the message board more readable. (Although I don't think people read it as much anymore).

Regards and thanks
 
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: Meaning, Intent and Reference (Parsing Fodor?) [message #3528 is a reply to message #3526] Thu, 11 February 2010 13:52 Go to previous messageGo to next message
SWMirsky is currently offline  SWMirsky
Messages: 188
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "jrstern" <jrstern@...> wrote:

<snip>


> Fodor requires a bit more philosophical background,
> Dennett writes at least half for the layman at all
> times. Dennett is an outstanding writer, Fodor is
> merely very good. Fodor, I think tries, for better
> or worse, to grapple with details, Dennett is more
> about frameworks.
>

Good philosophy, that is clear thinking about difficult concepts, ought to be doable in ordinary language. While there's no denying that sometimes something is gained by switching to formal logic or to the technical language of specialists, more often than not, in my experience anyway, such a switch (better: such a dependence!) mostly manifests unclarity, i.e., an inability to say directly what one has in mind. While I am not prepared to say that of Fodor yet, because I don't know enough of or about his work, I do think that may be one legitimate explanation for his writing being so inaccessible. You yourself say you've been reading him for 30 years and still don't feel you fully follow him. THAT says something!

It's not about laymen vs. specialists but about understanding by being clear vs. confusion and obfuscation. (Of course, even here there are degrees of occurrence. Searle, for instance, is often very clear and explicit, but then he almost inexplicably lapses into what looks like confusion -- one wants to say that's not possible, he's too well known, too credible a professional philosopher for that, but then that would be to confuse the merits of his case with the authority he presumably carries while making it.)

>
> > But Fodor just gets my head spinning.
> > I wonder if he is more like Edelman here than Hawkins?
>
> I don't think either of those are in the game.
>
>

Neither are philosophers or explicitly engaging in philosophy although both stick toes in the water. Edelman is a biologist and Hawkins is a computer engineer. But because both are concerned with the issues of thinking and thought, minds and understanding, they naturally cover similar ground as people like Fodor, Dennett, Searle, et al. In the end, though, it can't be about the credentials of any given writer but about what they have to say. Both Edelman and Hawkins present very detailed cases for their ideas about how the brain works (part of the brain only, in Hawkins' case), though Edelman, it seems to me, fumbles badly and gets lost in the complexities he identifies (though I think he brings some interesting insights to the table). As to the philosophical game, at least at this stage, I think Dennett is the clear winner of this particular race. But my understanding of Fodor is still too shaky to really judge him.


> > > Certainly he's a physicalist in that physical brain state
> > > corresponds with meaning, but just what that means (!) is not
> > > necessarily clear, in regards to balancing "methodological solipsism" and correspondence with distal objects.
> >
> > Yes, not at all clear. The mental language is
> > presumably some corresponding set of processes
>
> Wow there cowboy, slow it down.
>
> Is a language a process? Is English a process?
>

I was asking what kind of language could happen in brains and, if one wanted to say that there were such languages, would we have the same thing in mind by "language" as when we speak about English or Chinese or Esperanto? As I noted in that same post, Ramachandran likens the communication of information within brains between neurons and neuronal clusters to a language, too. But his use clearly enlarges on the usual idea of language though perhaps not inappropriately. I was asking whether Fodor's idea of a language of thought in brains is equivalent to the language of brain cells described by Ramachandran?

>
> > that underlie each and every distinct thought
> > we have
>
> Does the print on a page "underlie" the
> content of the book?
>

If I say something in English and Searle's Chinese Room translates it into Chinese, then what I said, what I had in mind, is found in my ideas as I expressed them, namely in the English words and sentences I used. Thus my statement(s) in English underlie the translation offered for them in Chinese and, indeed, if the Chinese version diverged too radically, it would be a bad translation, the original meaning not being captured, conveyed, etc.

On the Fodorian view, as you have described it at least, there is a mental language in which our thoughts happen and then a translation process (and processor?) that turns them into English. I am asking if that is the picture Fodor wants us to have?

>
> > and which somehow get translated into the
> > language(s) we actually speak to one another
> > and think in.
>
> Speak, yes.
>
> But the idea of an LOT is that it *is* the language
> we think in. *I*, but NOT Fodor, think that the LOT
> is not only the language we think in, it IS the
> thought itself. Yes, "your thoughts are written in
> the brain like writing on the page", that is the
> sentence that everyone tries to disclaim before
> launching into endless rantings about "thoughts"
> and "concepts". Except me. I embrace the demon.
>

I recall a fellow from the Popperian CR list insisting that thoughts are wordless and only after being thought do they get translated into words. I find that a little strange. When I think about my own thoughts I do it in language (talking to myself) though I agree that sometimes I become aware of inexpressed thoughts, suggesting that thinking may not be exclusively linguistic. But the only way a thought becomes accessible to me, the only way it registers you might say in my awareness is when I verbalize it (even if only in my head). Then it seems to become part of my overall understanding, etc.

So is Fodor's language of thought the underlying occurrences before we verbalize or fully verbalize them?

>
> > What kind of "language" must such
> > a mental language be?
>
> It is quite clear that the advent of the digital
> electronic computer was the motivation for modern
> theories like Chomsky's and Fodor's. Any language
> should be physically realizable by a TM, and any
> language that can be realized by a TM can be
> emulated by a UTM, of which you are reading this
> on one now.


To be "physically realizable" opens the usual questions. Yes, we can form the words mechanically with a mindless machine (Searle's CR?) but where is the understanding that makes the sounds (or symbols) words? That doesn't seem to be physically realizable by forming the words in the right syntactical order in the right context for the meaning at all. Still, people like me will argue that we can achieve even that with physical processes and I think you would agree. But clearly just manipulating zeroes and ones in a computer via an algorithm isn't understanding and doesn't supply understanding alone. Something else seems to be needed.

With Dennett I would argue that what's needed is a sufficiently complex process-based system operating in a certain way (the way this is physically realized). But what you have described doesn't seem to be that since you are suggesting we equate language in its full sense with whatever a computer does. I would say that is a more limited sense of language, akin perhaps to Ramachandran's suggestion that the fundamentally mindless informational exchanges between brain cells is also "language". Yes we can say that but only in a special sense while the question before us is what would it take produce language in the usual sense, i.e., a system of sounds or symbols that carry meaning between conscious beings?


> So, it doesn't really matter exactly
> what it is like, it will be highly intertranslatable.
> It will be interesting to find out, after all,
> exactly what it is like, but only for practical
> reasons, there is nothing theoretical riding on it
> at all.
>

I am inclined to think that translation tends to be imperfect and that this militates against information being "highly intertranslatable" between languages (the more so when the languages are significantly different in form). Of course we do have translatability and sometimes information is "highly intertranslatable" but I am inclined to think that is a function of conditions, contexts and so forth.

>
> > How do we discover it, recognize it when we see it,
> > distinguish it from other brain processes, etc.?
>
> Compsci 101, intro to programming
> Compsci 201, turing machines and automata
> compsci 202, neural networks
> Compsci 301, compilers
> Compsci 401, operating systems
> Compsci 501, computational linguistics
>
> Knowing it when you see it, is indeed the question.
>

Short of a full blown field of study aimed at identifying Fodor's supposed language of thought, how does he say we would recognize it or describe it?


<snip>

>
>
> > I'm skeptical of this approach.
>
> There is no other.
>
> Fodor has always said that,
> and I have always agreed.
>
> Josh
> =========================================

I meant "skeptical" in more than the usual, standard way of always keeping an open mind and refusing to be convinced so long as there is anything still pending to be resolved, etc. I mean I am inclined to think, at least at this stage, that Fodor is wrong, unless his "language of thought" turns out to be a fairly innocuous usage, i.e., something like Ramachandran's point. But I can't believe that would be his position as he seems to want to hang so much more on this than Ramachandran does.

SWM

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[Wittrs] [C] Re: Proper Names --Wittgenstein, Russell, Kripke [message #3539 is a reply to message #3408] Thu, 11 February 2010 20:00 Go to previous messageGo to next message
J D is currently offline  J D
Messages: 51
Registered: January 2010
Member
SW,

"... it seems to me the issue is never whether bearers are real or not."

...except when it is.

(An exercise: when does "the issue is" serve as a useful clarification and when is it a pretentious way of saying, "I'm really not interested in discussing that"? There's nothing wrong with saying the latter of course, but putting it the former way perhaps gives an impression of being "objective". Without specifying the context in which a particular point is not really "the issue", it becomes a dogmatic dismissal. "Telephone conversation format", though you loathe it, has the advantage of preserving some context. But even then to say "never"...?)

Your choice of a fictional place, "Mordor", as an example of a "bearer-call" is highly relevant to my attempts to understand what you're saying. Unless you want to say that it was just a very bad example. If Mordor is not real, then a fortiori, the use of the name "Mordor" cannot be made be people present in Mordor (except in the fictional context).

Now, I've asked for clarification on the idea of "presence" and you have not obliged. Allow me to offer some suggestions on further ways that your way of putting matters may be problematic.

You've emphasized a contrast between cases "where bearer and name are assumed to be together" ("bearer-calls") and contrasted these with those "where names and bearers become separated" ("bearer-assignments" or "predicate-calculation"). If I understand the distinction you wish to make, then this is the wrong way to go about it. Or the wrong way to put it. What matters here would seem to be the connection between the user of the name and the bearer of that name on the occasion of its usage. (And here, you need to distinguish various sorts of "connection", various sorts of "presence". You also need to distinguish between the presence of the bearer when the name is bestowed or assigned, when the usage of the name is taught, and on other occasions of usage.)

If you talk about the name and the bearer being together or separated, here's one problem. Suppose that someplace, the remains of Moses are buried and with them an inscription identifying them as "Moses". The name and the bearer are not separated! But to a user of the name "Moses" who is unaware of and unable to find these remains, that is little help. Likewise, if Sally is attending a luncheon someplace and wearing a "Hello, My Name is..." sticker. Again, the name and the bearer and not separated. But if you aren't at that luncheon and you use the name "Sally", her wearing that name tag is quite irrelevant to your own usage. And if you'll pardon a fictional reference, with all the applicable caveats, if Keyser Söze is sitting in an office in Istanbul with his name on the door, he and his name are together. But that by itself will not help detectives in the US trying to identify and locate a man they know only through rumors.

A separate point about the remains of Moses. Were archaeologists to find such a thing, then we would actually be adding another putative description to those descriptions we have under consideration in using "Moses", viz. "the individual whose remains were found..." And linking this description with the other descriptions would be a significant problem. Perhaps the inscription reads, "Here is Moses, the Giver of The Law" (or some similar description-cum-title) and the carbon-dating checked out. Then we'd have some reason to suppose that the "Moses" of these remains is the "Moses" with which the Biblical stories were concerned. Still, I want to emphasize that even in the presence of the bearer, we may still be concerned with matching descriptions with other descriptions.

Further points on existence and presence:

Many of the planets were first observed by the ancients, without the aid of telescopes. Others were discovered only with that invention. In either case (or so I suppose), their names could be bestowed by what you've called "bearer-calls". (And you can see from this example how tricky the various accounts of "presence", "together", "separated", and so forth can be. They are of course all quite distant from us!) Now, one could point out Mars and say, "That's Mars." But in teaching astronomy, one would also teach descriptions, permitting the student to reidentify Mars on later occasions.

Then there is Neptune. Neptune's existence was predicted mathematically, based on deviations of Uranus from its expected motion. Then it was observed, not far from its predicted location. But consider Vulcan. Not the fictional homeworld of Mr. Spock, but the planet that was similarly predicted to explain deviations of Mercury's orbit from the predictions of Newtonian mechanics. Of course, there is no such planet. But astronomers searched. (General Relativity later explained Mercury's movement without such recourse.)

With Mars, we've gone from being able to pick it out in the night sky (a "bearer-call"?) to having various descriptions at our disposal based on all sorts of further observations. With Neptune, we've gone from an identifying description based on calculations (a "bearer-assignment"? "predicate calculation"?) to being able to aim a telescope and say, "that's Neptune" (a "bearer-call"?). But with Vulcan, no such transition is possible. We have only the description and nothing satisfies it. Vulcan does not exist.

("Vulcan" in Star Trek is fictional, of course. And it is in a different star system. Saying "Vulcan does not exist" means something quite different when discussing science-fiction and when discussing the history of science. They are distinctly different descriptions, though neither description is satisfied by an actual planet.)

In none of these cases should we say that the name and the bearer of that name are "together".

(Actually, I believe some of the missions to Mars did leave plaques, but I doubt you'll regard that as indicating an essential difference!)

Honestly, I don't see what clarity is gained by jargon like "predicate-calculation" (Isn't this just going by a description? Why not say that?) and the pseudo-formal way of putting some of these matters. And my desire to be charitable makes me wonder if I have missed the point. If I have, I hope perhaps these examples and questions will assist you in making matters clearer to me.


"A name can separate from its bearer whenever the bearer does something to distinguish his or her identity in language."

You seem to be focused on the paradign of heroic deeds and such. But nothing need be "done" by the bearer. "The eldest daughter of...", "the person assigned SSN...", "the newborn in bed number..."

"The game of bearer-call and bearer-assignment is the fundamental issue in why there is confusion in philosophy over proper names. If you ask yourself a simple question before any name-game is played, you will clear up the confusion: what is your objective, to play bearer-call or bearer-assignment?"

These claims for your distinction strike me as wildly inflated. And the idea that ordinary language users ("before any name-game is played") are confused and need to ask themselves any such question seems presumptuous. Philosophers should ask how the name is being used and I am quite sure they'll find that it various quite often during the course of some games and among the game's participants. And it is not the philosopher's job to tell them that they should be more orderly and adhere to her distinctions and jargon in the matter!


"For certain kinds of historical or fictional proper names, answering this question is very difficult. Because if you say you want to play bearer-call for Moses, we might never know of which the X's called 'Moses' is the right X, if stories are mythical."

If the stories are entirely mythical, then there is no "right X". And apart from the case above where I described the possibility of finding the remains of Moses, what would count as "playing bearer-call" with the name "Moses". (Of course, many contemporary people are also named "Moses", but surely that's not the point!)

"And note that you cannot say 'there is no Moses' because that is bearer-assignment logic. You are precluded from that."

Saying, "There is no Vulcan," indicates (among other things) the futility to trying to make a transition from a description ("bearer-assignment logic"?) to being able to point out Vulcan using a telescope ("bearer-call"?). Why anyone should be precluded from making that point eludes me.

And likewise, why should anyone should be precluded from saying, "there is no Moses." It is obvious enough that such a claim could only be that one is using some description or other and that one has reason to believe that no actual person satisfies such descriptions. Now, people may consider different descriptions relevant and the boundary is not predetermined for how many of the descriptions must be satisfied for an individual to count as "Moses", but the fact that this is all "bearer-assignment logic" shouldn't preclude anyone from raising the point. Why should anyone be straitjacketed by your jargon?

And note that, barring something like finding remains such as I described, we aren't going to play "bearer-call" with the name "Moses" anyway! Whether or not such a man once existed, he does not exist today, except perhaps in a sense (or senses) that some believers would accept.

"But let's say certain stories are NOT mythical. If they are used to identify the X who accomplished them, it would be utterly pointless to then say: 'if X does not bear N, he cannot be N,' because at this point your game has, by definition, switched to bearer-assignment."

First, if the game has changed (at least as you are inclined to distinguish games) that wouldn't make the remark pointless. Pointing out that a shift has taken place is one thing and it may be very important that we take note of such a shift. But to call the remark "utterly pointless", to stigmatize it in that way, would be to insist that games should never bleed into one another. You don't honestly suppose that Wittgenstein advocated any such regimentation of language games, do you?

Second, it's not at all clear to me what, "if X does not bear N, he cannot be N," is even supposed to mean. What are the criteria for determining whether X bears N? Apart from situations like the luncheon where everyone is wearing a "Hello, My Name is..." sticker, when do we ever make an argument anything like that? We ask people their names, we ask someone else, we recognize them by their description, we take fingerprints, we test DNA, we ask for ID, and so forth. And it's not clear to me that all of these are cases of "bearer-assignment". And the sticker case likely isn't either. It's not at all clear what you're saying here.

"Here's what I want to say: I don't think the game of bearer-call can be played with 'Moses'..."

I don't either, unless we're talking about his remains.

"...unless we mean something like this: 'the man born of such-and-such people who lived at such-and-such.'"

How is that a "bearer-call"? That's another description. A "predicate-calculation"?

"And so if we identify the X of N here, it would be immaterial what 'Moses' did in life. We would have our X of N."

I'm not sure I see the reason for treating descriptions of the deeds someone has performed differently from other descriptions but that seems to be what you're doing. How does that distinction match up with the distinction between whether or not the bearer is present on the occasion of the use of the name? And how would this distinction apply to the names of places and artifacts? Maybe I am not getting your distinction at all. It seems to be all over the place.

If "born of such-and-such people" refers to, e.g. the Israelites, then the description doesn't pick out Moses from among numerous others. But if it refers to his biological parents, aren't they just as much a problem? You've just moved the problem back a step.

JPDeMouy

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[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: Proper Names --Wittgenstein, Russell, Kripke [message #3545 is a reply to message #3539] Thu, 11 February 2010 21:02 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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JD:

Good see you back old boy! Wittrs is nothing without its First Citizen. Very boring indeed. Just a quick note: I'll be heading out of town tomorrow, so I probably won't attend to your posts until maybe around Sunday.  I haven't read them yet, but I look forward to them.

Regards.  
 
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: [C] Re: Proper Names --Wittgenstein, Russell, Kripke [message #3567 is a reply to message #3408] Mon, 15 February 2010 02:44 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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Registered: August 2009
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(J)

... just got back from North Carolina. It's very late (about 1:45 am here). I don't think I can reply to all of your mails tonight. Just read this one. It's substantial. But I'm confused on a couple of things. There are times when you seem to agree with me but merely criticize my word use. But there are times when you seem to be disagreeing. Some comments:

1. I'm not the one who invented the distinction between language games where name and bearer are connected and games where they divorce. I got that straight out of PI (though I admit I have milked it a bit). There is a fundamental misunderstanding here. It's so tough to explain it. You seem to think that the presence of the bearer is physically required. To understand this, you must abandon the idea of sight altogether. It has nothing to do with that. Nothing to do with name and bearer in a spatial proximity (wearing a name tag). It isn't a physical assertion.

Here's the idea. It is a LOGICAL quality. Actually, it's enthymematic. (And to ward off another tautology sort of problem, all I mean here is it is in the nature of an assumption about the quality or nature of the assertion's FUNCTION). It is what the assertion is doing. It might actually even be thought of as a different behavior. (You are doing something different with the name). It ASSUMES an X of N. It's a use of a word that assumes "the bearer called N." On bearer assignments, the logic is the X AWARDED the N. The latter operates as a title.

Morder. It need not actually exist for one to use its name in the sense of the X of N. All that has to happen is that the use of the word carry the cognitive task. "What is Mordor?" "It's the place where Sauron lives." Also, "It's at longitude and latitude lines x. " Both of these may function as bearer-calls. They have the structure the X of N. Now, assume Sauron moves. Where is Morder? Depends upon what sense you mean. If you mean the X of N, it has ALWAYS been longitude/latitude x. But if you mean a bearer-assignment, you first need a description that qualifies (that operates as a rule); "The place where Sauron lives" probably works fine (the language culture determines this). Hence, if Sauron moves, you might here some say "Morder has moved." That is a particular language play that names allow.

Similar: BatCave. If Batman moves to a new cave, where is the BatCave? Depends upon whether you mean a bearer-call or a bearer-assignment.  

2. You seem to think that a description is a description is a description. You appear to think that being "the eldest daughter of" is no different than being "the man who saved the Israelites in the Exodus." This would only be true where the the person became known for that description, such that the doing of the thing would warrant the assignment of the name. If that ever happens, the sense of name is as a bearer-assignment.

3. We both agree it would be difficult to play bearer-call with Moses. But you might be able to if you had enough historical evidence for (a) the existence of the person; and (b) the non-existence of the things that can operate as bearer assignments. Let's say he is born of person X and Y. Let's say we have identified the parents. Let's say we have remains with the name. Let's say we also have hard evidence that Bob led the Israelites out of Egypt. And let's say we have evidence that Bob was shunned in the telling of stories for political reasons. Bearer-call: Moses didn't do it. Bearer-assignment: Bob is Moses.

4. Planets. All examples are bearer-calls. (Per Wittgenstein, Shipment amendable after delivery)

5. Police and name tags. Let's assume you are at a party. Let's assume the name tag of one person says "Jack the Ripper" (JR). And another person is named "Bob."  Let's assume that Bob is the one who actually killed the people, not JR. Who are the police looking for? This is a trick question. If they are looking for the person who killed, they are always looking for the X of N, even though that could be used for a bearer assignment. This is just like the Sauron example BEFORE HE MOVES. So, they are looking for the X who killed so and so. They'd therefore be looking for Bob. But if people come to say "Bob is Jack the Ripper," they are speaking in the sense of a bearer-assignment.

Meaning is use! (God love our hero)  

Regards.

SW




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[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: Proper Names --Wittgenstein, Russell, Kripke [message #3571 is a reply to message #3408] Mon, 15 February 2010 23:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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(J)

WITTGENSTEIN'S LANGUAGE
1. The language from W that led me to the distinction is here:

"44. We said that the sentence 'Excalibur has a sharp blade' made sense even when Excalibur was broken in pieces. Now this is so because in this language-game a name is also used in the absence of a its beater. But we can imagine a language game with names ... in which they are used only in the presence of the beater; and so could always be replaced by a demonstrative pronoun and the gesture of pointing."

BEARER-CALL AND ASSIGNMENT
You seem to have gotten the bearer-call, bearer-assignment distinction. There are just some lingering questions:

1. What description satisfies a bearer-call is whatever makes the bearer-call successful. That's the only point of this language game. Whatever establishes the correct X of N. Note this works perfectly for "N is dead" in Wittgenstein's 79. However you tag the body is however you do it. If, "that guy from block 12" will do it between any two people, that is as good as "DNA such and such" as between another two.  Now, for historical figures like Moses, you are right to note the problem with trying to "tag the body," so to speak. But the hypotheticals we have been exchanging regarding remains and parents were supposed to assume a scenario where a bearer-call could be hypothetically created, while a bearer-assignment could too.

I think what you are asking is when does "Moses" in a conversation actually become a bearer-assignment? The answer is NEVER UNTIL TWO APPEAR. Or rather, never until you can separate it from the bearer. This is because in the language game of bearer assignment, the name and the bearer need to have become separated. When they become separated, the name functions like a title. It is bestowed upon whoever earns its criteria. This is why we have been inventing all these name games. (e.g., batcave) 

2. Your "Bacon is Shakespeare" stuff seems spot on. (You use "rule of grammar" which I do not oppose. I prefer simply "name as a rule or title." [I've dropped predicate-calculator or "like a predicate-calculator."])  

3. Regarding whether to use the expression bearer-calls or assignments for statements or props, etc., I don't see the point. These things are FUNCTIONS that names fulfill when used in language.


4.  On planets.  The Vulcan that is "the planet that occupied such a position as to explain Mercury's perihelion precession within Newtonian mechanics" is ALWAYS a bearer-call UNTIL THE NAME CAN SEPARATE FROM ITS BEARER. Maybe it would be good to say putative or ostensive bearer. You cannot play bearer-assignment unless: (a) you can separate the name from its bearer; and (b) the name functions as a rule or title. So, "Sally isn't Sally anymore" (even though she is). [Note how this plugs into our discussion of "bachelor." You might say this is a non-literal sense of Sally. It may be, but that doesn't matter. It is nonetheless a SENSE of Sally. One that strips the name from the bearer because the latter hasn't earned it anymore]. And so, for Vulcan, all we have is an X of N until we can find conditions that can separate them. When we say "Vulcan" doesn't exist, it is the same as saying in Witt's 79, "N is dead." Here we are saying the X of N
doesn't exist. These are bearer-calls. 

(Neptune as "whatever planet satisfied what was required to explain the motion of Uranus" is a bearer-call until we can separate it from its bearer.)

AIR FORCE ONE
Air Force One (AF1) is a tough one!!!  Do you see the problem here!!??  On one hand, it seems like perfect bearer-assignment. Wherever the president is, is the thing. However, we can't separate the bearer from the name here can we? This is a NEW LANGUAGE GAME. In this one, we have invented a proper name for a VARIABLE. Very f-ing interesting. Imagine the President is on plane X. Imagine that midflight, he switches to Y by using new technology where the planes can latch midair (like in refueling). He crawls into plane Y. Which plane was AF1? Answer: X during its part of the president's voyage and Y during its. You cannot separate the name from the bearer here.

NAME TAGS
I can't agree that the name tag example was stupid. It illustrated the points just fine.

SLOGANIZED WITTGENSTEIN
Yes, we both agree that a sloganized Wittgenstein is to be avoided. But I think we might disagree on who has one. Glen's ideas, for example, were clearly only partial. He just stuffed what he understood and liked about Wittgenstein into other packages he liked more (e.g., Skinner and Behaviorism). One wants to say: he bent Wittgenstein. Were he able to actually discuss the matter, we would gladly have him here to exchange it with us. Tell me, do you want to discuss it? Because, right now, it isn't doing any good in its present form (a telephone dropping). If you actually want to devote some intellectual time to this, maybe open it up as a separate thread and indicate what you think are the common pitfalls in understanding meaning as use. We would need substance here, not the a.m. radio version. We need people who can actually take the other person's idea and come to understand it. 

My sense is that what might come out is something half-blooded or directed toward some other idea. E.g., The "meaning-is-the-standard-use" Wittgenstein. Or, "no-counter-examples-allowed-if-you-take-common-fences down" Wittgenstein. Or, in Glen's case, the reification-branch Wittgenstein who was a doctrinal behaviorist who would never allow anyone to to talk about brains or minds, and who thought that if you were not using ordinary sense, you had an "anything goes" approach that was supportive of nonsense or chaos.

My sense is that many of these ideas have Russell and abandoned-verificationist ideas hiding in the closet, and are a little too friendly to methods of logic and science when applied to statements. You know, I posted all sorts of Wittgenstein quotes the other day in support of my position, and this is what I get in return?

I know this: I am no longer discussing in here with people who can't do it (usually for failings of character). You and I have yet to reach that point. Tell you what: why not open a thread about Wittgenstein and behaviorism between you and I? I bet we could have a civil discussion that advanced the ball. You do agree that the point is to advance the ball, right? You know I usually like talking with you because there is substance in the offering. You can catch an idea and throw it back. Virtually no one else can really do that.

Why not open up some genuine threads in the future that get into meaning as use or behaviorism? (I'd like to have good stuff going to and from on that).      

Regards and thanks

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: [C] Re: Proper Names --Wittgenstein, Russell, Kripke [message #3572 is a reply to message #3571] Mon, 15 February 2010 23:14 Go to previous message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
Messages: 793
Registered: August 2009
Location: Form of Life
Senior Member

... and that should be "bearer" (corrected below)
 ========================================

"44. We said that the sentence 'Excalibur has a sharp blade' made sense even when Excalibur was broken in pieces. Now this is so because in this language-game a name is also used in the absence of a its bearer. But we can imagine a language game with names ... in which they are used only in the presence of the bearer; and so could always be replaced by a demonstrative pronoun and the gesture of pointing."



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