• Harry Hindu
    1.2k
    Meaning is the relationship between some effect and it's subsequent causes.Harry Hindu

    Isn't that a very particular definition of "meaning"? One which violates the Principle of Least Surprise, I would say? :chin: Merriam-Webster says this (but I'm not sure it's very helpful):

    Definition of meaning
    1 a : the thing one intends to convey especially by language : purport
    Do not mistake my meaning.

    b : the thing that is conveyed especially by language : import
    Many words have more than one meaning.

    2 : something meant or intended : aim
    a mischievous meaning was apparent

    3 : significant quality; especially : implication of a hidden or special significance
    a glance full of meaning

    4 a : the logical connotation of a word or phrase
    b : the logical denotation or extension of a word or phrase
    Pattern-chaser

    Isn't what someone intends, the cause of their actions?

    Isn't the thing that is conveyed by language the idea, and intent to convey it, that causes it?

    What tree rings mean are the age of the tree. They mean the age of the tree because of how the tree grows throughout the year.

    What words refer to are the ideas in your head. You must have the intent to communicate an idea and then go through the process of converting those non-verbal ideas into verbal representations in order to communicate. This is a causal process.

    And now that I think about it: what is the relationship between an effect and its cause(s)? It seems little more than that the effect is related to the cause that caused it, which hardly seems worth saying. Saying that the cause is related to the effects it has is similarly uninformative.Pattern-chaser
    I'm not sure what you are asking here. Change (or time) within the same space is the relationship between cause and effect?

    "to be useful, a word must refer to something in the world." — Harry Hindu


    Where "world" refers to the physical spacetime universe plus the ill-defined and sprawling mass of human culture, in all its wonder, and all its guises? For the latter is where 99% of humans live out 99% of their lives. And some words, those that are often applied and used to describe human culture, or some smaller part of it, are equally ill-defined. I think "meaning" --- in the sense of 'the meaning of life', not 'Many words have more than one meaning' --- is one of these. Human concepts like wisdom, value, and quality are similar in this regard. We all know what they mean, but writing it down in words is next-to-impossible. :brow:
    Pattern-chaser
    Here you are engaging in anthropomorphism. The world contains many different environments. Science can explain the reason why humans choose to live in any particular environment as the result of their adaptations. That would be like saying that elephants are specially adapted to their "world", not to their environment, and then make a distinction that their representations only refer to their "world" and not to the rest of it. It's nonsensical.
  • Harry Hindu
    1.2k
    I actually read it, and I want my revenge on the world! I think it serves as an awful warning of the excesses of analysis. All that work, and then Wittgenstein blows the whole thing apart.unenlightened
    And then I go and blow Wittgenstein apart.

    Defining meaning is simple.

    Meaning is the relationship between cause and effect.
  • Banno
    2.7k
    Meaning is the relationship between cause and effect.Harry Hindu

    Yah, that works - cause and effect is so much easier to understand than meaning... :roll:
  • Banno
    2.7k
    the image of a dog that crops up in your mind is not a dog. It is your class for "dog". Dogs live out in the world as animals, not in your mind as images. The dog class exists only in minds, not out in the world. There's a clear distinction if you just think a little.Harry Hindu

    You mix the dog-image with the dog-class. What is that image? A dachshund? A wolf? some weird combination of all? Does it include prairie dogs? Fire dogs? Hot dogs?

    What is the causal connection that links all these dogs together? Or do you vacillate between "dog" meaning your mind image and "dog" as relating cause and effect?

    Okay, I would rephrase my first sentence into, "to be useful, a word must refer to something in the world."Harry Hindu
    SO what does "and" refer to? What of "jump"? What about "hello"? Not all words are nouns. Why pretend that they are?


    What "useful" means in that context is the relationship between the word (the tool) and the intent to communicate non-verbal experiences (the goal).
    So you have a non-verbal experience that you put into words. And you don;t see that as problematic?
  • Banno
    2.7k
    A writer or speaker has the intent to communicate their non-verbal experiences to others.Harry Hindu

    Why pretend that all talk is of experiences? We do far more with words than just give descriptions, so why take mere describing as the epitome? That's why PI starts with a bunch of examples that are not descriptions, but activities.
  • Tomseltje
    129
    So, going back to the OP, there is a point in discussing more than the definition when doing philosophy.Banno

    I'd even say the actual discussion about the subject doesn't start untill the definitions are clear.
  • Banno
    2.7k
    I'd even say the actual discussion about the subject doesn't start untill the definitions are clear.Tomseltje

    ...hence excluding philosophical conversation about the definition...
  • Banno
    2.7k
    Let's do that again:

    The meaning can be represented by a definition.Tomseltje

    ...this is different to "The meaning is the definition". The implication is that the definition does not give the meaning; the definition does not present the meaning, it represents the meaning; the definition stands in for the meaning.

    Hence you are saying that the definition does not give the meaning.

    So should philosophers concern themselves with mere definitions, or should they look to meaning?
  • Tomseltje
    129
    Hence you are saying that the definition does not give the meaning.Banno

    Nope, I'm saying that the definition does not nessesarily give the meaning. But it could
    The definition can only transfer the meaning when understood correctly.

    So should philosophers concern themselves with mere definitions, or should they look to meaning?Banno

    Philosophers should look in the same direction when discussing what is seen, irrelevant of what they are looking for.
  • Banno
    2.7k
    The definition can only transfer the meaning when understood correctly.Tomseltje

    Meaning is something that is transferred?
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.1k
    What's the use of discussing philosophy without definitions?Tomseltje

    The point of that would be to sound fashionable and win arguments by being the loudest and rudest.

    You're right. I've noticed, and experienced, a blatant lack of definitions in arguments. ...for example in my thread "A few metaphyscal replies".

    For instance, someone (he knows who he is) criticized me for not making the necessary distinction between logical facts and "substantive" facts. So I asked what he meant by "substantive".

    ...No answer. But just an angry, rancorous departure from the discussion. "When you ask me what I mean, and I don't have an answer about what I mean, then it's pointless to even try to talk to you!."

    Something like that. In other words, declare yourself the winner and depart the conversation, when asked for a definition of a term you used but can't define. ...when asked what it is that you're trying to say.

    It's happened again and again here. Different forms, different versions, different people, but the same thing.

    Long on rancor, but short on being clear about what we mean, or defining our terms.

    So what do some people here do instead of defining their terms when they talk?

    Well, hemming, hawing, speculating, and dancing around the subject (whatever it may be).

    Philosophical discussion and investigation it isn't. What is it? Some kind of one-upmanship game,
    seemingly scored according to who can be rudest and most rancorous.

    Michael Ossipoff
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.1k
    Actually, metaphysics can be a precise and unambiguous subject, Definite, uncontroversial things can be said, but here the discussion is instead, sloppy, centered on juvenile name-calling, etc., and, as I said, characterized by rancor on the part of people who are losing their argument.

    As in science, metaphysical discussion needs explicit, precise and consistent definitions, avoidance of brute-facts, assumptions, and unverifiable, unfalsifiable propositions.

    Good luck finding that here.

    Michael Ossipoff
  • Tomseltje
    129
    Meaning is something that is transferred?Banno

    It's concept, sure.
  • Banno
    2.7k
    Sorry - did you mean it is concept - that concept and meaning are the very same or that meaning is a concept?

    In either case, does that help? Is the notion of concept clearer that that of meaning?
  • Tomseltje
    129


    all we can talk about are concepts. Words are references to concepts, same goes for the word meaning.
  • Tomseltje
    129
    The point of that would be to sound fashionable and win arguments by being the loudest and rudest.Michael Ossipoff

    I guess we agree that this kind of behaviour is about the opposite of having a philosophical discussion. The thing is, they don't actually win the argument, they merely succeeded into getting everyone to refrain from even attempting to discuss anything with them. If one wins an argument in a discussion both parties have won, quite different from the end result in debates. Too bad so many here don't seem to understand the difference yet.
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.1k


    Yes, I posted here because I wanted to find out what answers and objections can be made to the metaphysics that I propose.

    It "seemed like a good idea at the time."

    Well, I did find out what objections people come up with, and sincerely-felt objections deserve answers. As you suggested, it could be, and was supposed to be, a co-operative non-inimical effort. If I'm mistaken about something--if there's an objection or consideration that I've missed or under-rated-- then I want to hear about it. That's the (potential) value of a philosophical forum.

    But, when one finds out what discussion here consists of--people angrily defending their doctrines and superstitions, using the worst Internet tactics--one realizes that participation doesn't really serve a purpose.

    Usually people don't visit here and approach the topics as I've been doing, and now, of course, it's evident why that is--as you suggested. People here are doing something else, and really it's best to just leave them to it.

    Well, I visited here to find out, and I did.

    That doesn't necessarily mean that I won't finish a few replies in "A few metaphysical replies", or a few other threads. Why? Just to properly finish the questionable Quixotic project that I started when I started posting here.

    Michael Ossipoff
  • Harry Hindu
    1.2k
    Meaning is the relationship between cause and effect. — Harry Hindu

    Yah, that works - cause and effect is so much easier to understand than meaning... :roll:
    Banno

    If we don't understand cause and effect then how is it that you make so many predictions that come true, all of which are based on previous experiences? Think of all the trivial predictions you make throughout the day and engage in activities to bring those goals to their fruition (getting up in the morning, getting dressed, going to work, getting your work done, going home, eating a hot meal, going to bed, etc.). How could you do any of that without some understanding of cause and effect? :roll:


    You mix the dog-image with the dog-class. What is that image? A dachshund? A wolf? some weird combination of all? Does it include prairie dogs? Fire dogs? Hot dogs?Banno
    Tell me what form the dog-class takes in your mind? Is it not an image of some dog that might even vary each time your bring "dog" to mind?


    What is the causal connection that links all these dogs together? Or do you vacillate between "dog" meaning your mind image and "dog" as relating cause and effect?Banno
    Well, your mental image of a dog was caused by previous experiences with dogs. The image on the paper is the effect of your mental image of a dog. This is a chain of causation. The image on the paper that I see contains information about your previous experiences with dogs. There is meaning in the image on the paper that refers to your mental image and your experience with dogs. Meaning is the same thing as information.


    SO what does "and" refer to? What of "jump"? What about "hello"? Not all words are nouns. Why pretend that they are?Banno

    "and" is typically used to refer to an connection between two or more things.

    "jump" is typically used to refer to some organism's ability to move vertically into the air by it's own power.

    "hello" is typically used as a sound while greeting someone. It's a cultural behavior.

    I never said that everything was a noun. I said that every word refers to something in the world. "Something" could be nouns and their behaviors (verbs) or descriptors (adjectives). "Something" also refers to your mental images and experiences as I have explained. "God" refers to a propagated idea in our heads that has been skewed for our own purposes.


    So you have a non-verbal experience that you put into words. And you don;t see that as problematic?Banno
    Uh.. no. What is your problem with it? Think about it. Words are just sounds and visual scribbles - the same as your non-verbal experiences. Words are only different in that their meaning is the causal connection with other minds, not some other mindless cause.


    Why pretend that all talk is of experiences? We do far more with words than just give descriptions, so why take mere describing as the epitome? That's why PI starts with a bunch of examples that are not descriptions, but activities.Banno
    Then you must be an internet bot because how does any word come to your mind without some experience to go along with it? How did you learn what words mean?
  • Banno
    2.7k
    If we don't understand cause and effect then how is it that you make so many predictions that come true, all of which are based on previous experiences? Think of all the trivial predictions you make throughout the day and engage in activities to bring those goals to their fruition (getting up in the morning, getting dressed, going to work, getting your work done, going home, eating a hot meal, going to bed, etc.). How could you do any of that without some understanding of cause and effect? :roll:Harry Hindu

    A transcendental argument. We get on with our lives; the only way we could get on with our lives is if we understand cause and effect; therefore we understand cause and effect.

    I do not find it at all convincing.
  • Banno
    2.7k
    Tell me what form the dog-class takes in your mind?Harry Hindu

    It doesn't. There's just the use of the word "dog".
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