• macrosoft
    674
    I agree, you do not "observe" another person's meaning, you deduce, or infer it.Metaphysician Undercover

    'Deduce or infer' is not perhaps the best description. Even if we grant that ultimately the brain is quickly processing sense-data, the experience of others' meaning is far more automatic and instantaneous than that. Worrying about the brain issue obscures what is perhaps the priority: describing our lived experience of meaning with others. Since concerns about the brain and our isolation are themselves part of this lived experience, it's not clear that isolated brain talk is more fundamental. The structure is like that of a mobius strip.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.3k
    Even if we grant that ultimately the brain is quickly processing sense-data, the experience of others' meaning is far more automatic and instantaneous than that.macrosoft

    I don't agree. The automatic, and instantaneous meaning is one's own meaning, the meaning produced by one's own habituation. It is not the other's meaning (the speaker's meaning). And the hearer's own habituated meaning is only consistent with the meaning intended by the speaker when the hearer and the speaker have similar cultural conditioning. So when the meaning interpreted automatically and instantaneously by the hearer is consistent with the meaning intended by the speaker it Is not the case that the interpreter is processing the speaker's meaning. It is only when the interpreter takes the time to consider nuances and subtle differences, putting oneself into the speaker's shoes, through empathy, that one is actually attempting to experience the other's meaning.
  • macrosoft
    674
    The automatic, and instantaneous meaning is one's own meaning, the meaning produced by one's own habituation. It is not the other's meaning (the speaker's meaning).Metaphysician Undercover

    Yes, I agree. Or rather I get that. I start from that. Maybe I should stress that, because I have the sense that jumping to the lived/ordinary point of view is misinterpreted as involving supernatural entities.

    The brain throws up a picture of the situation. I can radically misunderstand the other. I am not wired directly to their brain. Except that I am, through words, gestures, facial expressions. Even if we can and do err in complicated situations (talking about talking about talking), ordinary life is quite a success.

    It should be though, since consistent and important misreadings lead to death and ostracism. We've been at this for a long time, and those who can't get it (along with their code) are cast aside.

    So when the meaning interpreted automatically and instantaneously by the hearer is consistent with the meaning intended by the speaker it Is not the case that the interpreter is processing the speaker's meaning. It is only when the interpreter takes the time to consider nuances and subtle differences, putting oneself into the speaker's shoes, through empathy, that one is actually attempting to experience the other's meaning.Metaphysician Undercover

    I know why you say this, and it is true from a certain perspective. On the other hand, I believe without proof that the word 'cat' throws up the image of a cat in your mind. I believe that this sentence throws up a voice in your mind, and that you understand me well enough in the way that I understand me. If you want to insist that these are different meanings (since they aren't perfect matches and are generated by different brains), then I can understand that. On the other, the entire point of our massive facility with language is to generate something like the same meaning in each consciousness. Stressing the difference ignores exactly what makes stressing that difference possible. Your speech act presumes that we can share meaning in some sense -- call it what you will.

    I like your last sentence quite a bit. Empathy seems crucial, but I also think a certain courage is necessary. While we want to learn, we don't like to learn from a rival. If the situation is framed as a contest or argument and not as a genial exploration, everyone is a rival to be put in their place. As I see it, learning is largely a self-mutilation. We expose our network of beliefs to the violence of another network. Unless the lust for expansion over-powers the fear of mutilation, we apply tunnel-vision to an interpersonal situation where stepping back and seeing the basic situation is appropriate. Rather than pretending to be innocent of this, I confess that I speak from experience. That too seems like part of the self-mutilation --coming to terms with one's own pettiness and vanity. Excepting some technical and layman-irrelevant philosophy, I don't see how philosophy isn't a 'spiritual' practice if done well --nor how 'spiritual' practice can avoid self-mutilation (the destruction of persona.)
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.3k
    On the other, the entire point of our massive facility with language is to generate something like the same meaning in each consciousness. Stressing the difference ignores exactly what makes stressing that difference possible. Your speech act presumes that we can share meaning in some sense -- call it what you will.macrosoft

    I find that to say things like this is to make a statement which simplifies something that is complicated, but it doesn't really make sense. It's like you're saying something, and it would be accepted by many people, simply because it sounds good, but it's actually quite unreal. This proposition glosses over the complexities of something extremely complicated, making that thing appear to be very simple, so let's accept it, and proceed on our way as if we have an understanding of that complicated thing.

    The fact is, that in no rigorous sense of "same" can we say that each consciousness has the same meaning. People will argue, as your statement implies, that it must be the same or else we couldn't communicate. But I think that this actually obscures the true nature of communication, and that is that we get by on something which is merely adequate, and is far less than a perfect understanding. Language, communication, does not require, in any sense at all, that we "share meaning". It is this assumption which creates the illusion of simplicity that obscures the true complicated nature of language.

    This is like the word "inter-subjective". There is a massive quantity of extremely complicated interactions between human subjects. Instead of attempting to understand these relations, let's just hand some objective reality to the "inter-subjective", and pretend that words like "language" refer to a real object rather than to the relations between individual people. So you say that there is a real object which is called "meaning", and we each share in this object, instead of representing the individuals as individuals who interact and their interactions create the illusion that there is such an object called "meaning".
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