• Mww
    1.8k


    No worries, s’all good. My fault for posing somewhat vague scenarios, in the interest of reductionist simplicity.

    I will offer that you are guilty of a Ignoratio Elenchi for giving correct technical answers to what was, for all intents and purposes, a strictly non-technical question. So you are right of course, but under unwarranted conditions.

    Again....my fault. Can’t blame a guy for being correct.
  • Janus
    9.4k
    I understand why someone might see it that way, but I don't. My dodge is to not insist on treating various useful distinctions as absolute. No need to officially be a dualist or a monist. Instead we operate in concrete contexts, employing our linguistic knowhow in particular situations. I'm impressed by Saussure's notion of relational identity. Derrida took it and ran with it, but much of what I love in Derrida is also in Saussure.jjAmEs

    I'm not treating any distinction as absolute. What we have been discussing is the question as to what can plausibly, coherently and consistently be said regarding the ontological question about whether there are different kinds of fundamental "stuff". Derrida rejects metaphysics and ontology altogether unless I am mistaken, so the question for him would have no definite meaning; and this makes your reference to him irrelevant to the context of this discussion, as far as I can see.

    The salient point is: we know there is physical, material "stuff", "for us" at least, because that is what science can observe, measure and model. Do we know (in any kind of analogous inter-subjective way) that there is any other kind of "stuff"? Spiritual or mental stuff, for example? Do we even have any idea what it could mean for there to be such "stuff" ("stuff" that could be inter-subjectively dealt with in determinate ways as we do with physical "stuff")?

    As I have already said we don't know how to answer any question that asks whether there is any kind of stuff at all in any absolute "in itself" sense, but that is irrelevant to the question under discussion, which is concerned with what we can justifiably say relative to our inter-subjectove experience of things.
  • jjAmEs
    184
    Derrida rejects metaphysics and ontology altogether unless I am mistaken, so the question for him would have no definite meaning; and this makes your reference to him irrelevant to the context of this discussion, as far as I can see.Janus

    I believe Wayf was criticized for not quoting Dennett. Perhaps you should quote Derrida to support your notion of his rejection of 'metaphysics and ontology altogether.' While I don't claim to be a expert on his work, I've read enough of it (in English translation) to see how badly he tends to be caricatured.
    I will requote for your convenience what I quoted before.

    In order for my "written communication" to retain it function as writing, i.e., its readability, it must remain readable despite the absolute disappearance of any receiver, determined in general. My communication must be repeatable -- iterable -- in the absolute absence of the receiver or of any empirically determinable collectivity of receivers. Such iterability...structures the mark of writing itself, no matter what particular type of writing is involved (whether pictographical, hieroglyphic, ideographic, phonetic, alphabetic, to cite the old categories). A writing that is not structurally readable -- iterable -- beyond the death of the addressee would not be writing.
    ...
    What holds for the receiver holds also, for the same reasons, for the sender or the producer. To write is to produce a mark that will constitute a sort of machine which is productive in turn, and which my future disappearance will not, in principle, hinder in its functioning, offering things and itself to be read and to be rewritten. When I say "my future disappearance", it is in order to render this proposition more immediately acceptable. I ought to be able to say my disappearance, pure and simple, my nonpresence in general, for instance the nonpresence of my intention of saying something meaningful , of my wish to communicate, from the emission or production of the mark. For a writing to be a writing it must continue to "act" and to be readable even when what is called the author of the writing no longer answers for what he has written, for what he seems to have signed, be it because of a temporary absence, because he is dead or, more generally, because he has not employed his absolutely actual and present intention or attention, the plenitude of his desire to say what he means, in order to sustain what seems to be written "in his name. " One could repeat at this point the analysis outlined above this time with regard to the addressee. The situation of the writer and of the underwriter is, concerning the written text, basically the same as that of the reader. This essential drift bearing on writing as an iterative structure, cut off from all absolute responsibility, from consciousness as the ultimate authority, orphaned and separated at birth from the assistance of its father, is precisely what Plato condemns in the Phaedrus. If Plato's gesture is, as I believe, the philosophical movement par excellence, one can measure what is at stake here.
    — Derrida

    How am I applying this in our context? The point is that we don't look into our souls or the realm of forms to find some magical meaning that corresponds to 'mental' or 'physical.' Both signs are caught up in social conventions, ways they tend to be and are intelligibly used in various contexts. The vice of philosophers is the fantasy of the celestial dictionary, crammed with one size definition fits all (contexts.) And we also then need the subject as meaning-organ to scoop up all of these essences of Pure Mind. An alternative approach is understand 'subject' and 'meaning' as more signs in the system.

    The salient point is: we know there is physical, material "stuff", "for us" at least, because that is what science can observe, measure and model. Do we know (in any kind of analogous inter-subjective way) that there is any other kind of "stuff"? Spiritual or mental stuff, for example? Do we even have any idea what it could mean for there to be such "stuff" ("stuff" that could be inter-subjectively dealt with in determinate ways as we do with physical "stuff")?Janus

    Note that you use 'stuff.' Then you use 'for us.' All this takes us right back into metaphysical confusion. There is 'stuff' ---for us. ' It's all physical.' 'Ah, but it's physical for us. So it's all mental!' And then you imply that science can only observe 'physical' stuff, but that would make psychology (which claims to study behavior and mind) and Dennett's work impossible too --unless we are back to the caricature of Dennett denying consciousness. Then there's sociology. Physics isn't all of science. More practically, aspirin and Novocain are judged/tested in terms of the 'mental.' We include both 'mind' and 'matter' in our explanatory causal nexus all of the time. 'The surgery didn't hurt because they put me under.' And as Husserl & Bohr note in quotes above, science only makes sense in a life-world that includes ordinary language.

    You also ask whether we have any idea of what other kind of stuff than the 'physical' there could be or what we could mean by that. But then you use 'intersubjectively' without hesitation, as if this didn't invoke that other kind of stuff at least in a loose way.

    As I have already said we don't know how to answer any question that asks whether there is any kind of stuff at all in any absolute "in itself" sense, but that is irrelevant to the question under discussion, which is concerned with what we can justifiably say relative to our inter-subjective experience of things.Janus

    'Our intersubjective experience of things' is already loaded with idealism. So the real world is the intersection of our 'dreamworlds'? Or (where I think we agree) 'intersubjective' hints at social conventions , norms of intelligibility and epistemic norms. It's only in terms of such norms that they can be questioned and modified (Neurath's boat.) And it's only in terms of ordinary talk about 'mind' and 'matter' (largely a matter of blind skill that is trained into us) can be rarefied into metaphysical exaggeration: 'All is mental' or 'the mind is the brain.' To some degree we can make our tacit skill in navigating social conventions and life itself explicit. But it's not clear that we need to figure out the cosmic truths of the 'mental' and 'physical' and 'the thing-in-itself' outside of all contexts.
  • Janus
    9.4k
    I did say re Derrida's rejection of metaphysics "unless I am mistaken", so I haven't made any blanket claim such as Wayfer has re Dennett..

    As to there being or not being mental "stuff": remember the point I made was that there is no determinate mental "stuff". Of course we can and do say there is mental stuff going on, and we seem to naturally and unreflectively fall into a dualist mode in imagining that there is some immaterial substance involved in the mental stuff we say is going on. But if the indeterminate mental stuff going on is really just an emergent property or attribute of the the determinate physical stuff (which given what we know, seems most reasonable), then we have no need of, or rational justification for, dualistic metaphysics.
  • Wayfarer
    10.1k
    In order for my "written communication" to retain it function as writing, i.e., its readability, it must remain readable despite the absolute disappearance of any receiver, determined in general. My communication must be repeatable -- iterable -- in the absolute absence of the receiver or of any empirically determinable collectivity of receivers. Such iterability...structures the mark of writing itself, no matter what particular type of writing is involved (whether pictographical, hieroglyphic, ideographic, phonetic, alphabetic, to cite the old categories). A writing that is not structurally readable -- iterable -- beyond the death of the addressee would not be writing. — Derrida

    I didn't pay that much attention to this passage when first cited (as Derrida is not on my reading list), however on re-reading it, I think I can see the point.

    When he says that 'To write is to produce a mark that will constitute a sort of machine which is productive' I think what he's wanting to argue is that symbolic communication (of any kind) must have real meaning, or a real reference, if it is not simply idiosyncratic to the one who generates it. (Note - the root of 'idiot' is the same as 'idiosyncratic', i.e. someone who cannot be understood by anyone else or who speaks in a language that only he understands).

    In other words, he's arguing that for writing to be writing, it has to have real meaning, i.e. meaning that is not simply dependent on the minds of either the writer or reader. So even though it can only be interpreted by a mind capable of reading, it is not dependent on that mind, but has a reality of its own.

    Am I getting close?
  • jjAmEs
    184
    I think what he's wanting to argue is that symbolic communication (of any kind) must have real meaning, or a real reference, if it is not simply idiosyncratic to the one who generates it. (Note - the root of 'idiot' is the same as 'idiosyncratic', i.e. someone who cannot be understood by anyone else or who speaks in a language that only he understands).Wayfarer

    As I understand him, I agree with you that symbolic communication cannot by purely idiomatic, and this is close to Wittgenstein's denial of private language. In this special sense, the community is prior to the individual subject as speaker of the language. 'Language speaks the subject' means, as I read it, that the 'subject' is one more sign caught up in norms of intelligibility.

    But Derrida argues against a pure ideality. And the system of language is more important than the individual sign. I'll quote from a translator's intro to one of Derrida's classic and early works, Speech and Phenomenon.
    https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8261/6adfe3d796df144ba6e3ef8300e160c54635.pdf

    Following Saussure, Derrida maintains that linguistic meaning is not so much the product of an explicit meaning-intention as it is the arbitrary configuration of differences between signs. Meaning derives from the distance that extends between one particular sign and the system of other signs in linguistic use. It is this differential character of signs which must first be reckoned with, and this results from conventions existing within language; it is not a matter of meaning-intentions that supervene from without. There is no meaning, no signified content, that stands above and is free from this play of differences. Nor could meaning withstand the continuous shifting of differences, the continuous sedimenting of traces, as some ideal identity. For Derrida, there is only a likeness or sameness to meaning, which is constituted across the history of everchanging usage. Absolute objectivity, therefore, could never be claimed for meaning (yet for Husserl, the highest degree of objectivity is that of absolute ideality, the perfect identity of an omnitemporal meaning). What is striking in Derrida's claim is the objection that linguistic meaning can never be completely present. There can never be an absolutely signified content, an absolutely identical or univocal meaning in language. All these values are denied to meaning once we admit its dependence upon nonpresent elements. Meaning can never be isolated or held in abstraction from its context, e.g., its linguistic, semiotic, or historical context. Each such context, for example, is a system of reference, a system of signifiers, whose function and reality point beyond the present. What is signified in the present, then, necessarily includes the differentiating and nonpresent system of signifiers in its very meaning. We can only assemble and recall the traces of what went before; we stand within language, not outside it. — link

    We might say that there is a system of quasi-forms (signifieds), but its ideality is not pure and the system is subject to modification. Historicity & finitude. We stand within the talk of our time, not outside, though we try. That (present) signs are largely their differences from other (nonpresent) signs becomes more concrete if one reads in more detail from Saussure. Surprises follow from the arbitrary nature of the sign. But it goes back to Aristotle, who is quoted in the intro.
    A name is a spoken sound significant by convention, without time, none of whose parts is significant in separation. .. . I say 'by convention' because no name is a name naturally but only when it has become a symbol. Even inarticulate [agrammatoi] noises (of beasts, for instance) do indeed reveal something, yet none of them is a name. — Aristotle in De Interpretatione
  • jjAmEs
    184


    Here is more of the subject being 'spoken by language' (a 'product' of the sign system).
    From the same book:https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8261/6adfe3d796df144ba6e3ef8300e160c54635.pdf
    When I say /, even in solitary speech, can I give my statement meaning without implying, there as always, the possible absence of the object of speech—in this case, myself? When I tell myself "I am," this expression, like any other according to Husserl, has the status of speech only if it is intelligible in the absence of its object, in the absence of intuitive presence—here, in the absence of myself. Moreover, it is in this way that the ergo sum is introduced into the philosophical tradition and that a discourse about the transcendental ego is possible. Whether or not I have a present intuition of myself, "I" expresses something; whether or not I am alive, I am 'means something' — Derrida

    I also requote Culler in this new context, for there is no perfect repetition.

    What Freud, Saussure and Durkheim seem to have recognized is that social sciences could make little progress until society was considered a reality in itself: a set of institutions or systems which are more than the contingent manifestations of the spirit or the sum of individual activities. It is as though they had asked: “what makes individual experience possible? what enables men to perceive not just physical objects but objects with a meaning? what enables them to communicate and act meaningfully?” And the answer which they postulated was social institutions which, though formed by human activities, are the conditions of experience. To understand individual experience one must study the social norms which make it possible. — Culler
    links quoted in previous post

    That what I vaguely mean by 'socialized Kantianism.' The story of anti-realism largely moves in this direction.

    Here's Jameson's emphasis on the holism involved.
    It is not so much the individual word or sentence that ‘stands for’ or ‘reflects’ the individual object or event in the real world, but rather that the entire system of signs, the entire field of the langue, lies parallel to reality itself; that it is the totality of systematic language, in other words, which is analogous to whatever organized structures exist in the world of reality, and that our understanding proceeds from one whole or Gestalt to the other, rather than on a one-to-one basis. — Jameson
    https://slavicgf.sitehost.iu.edu/assignments/Chandler_ch1_pt1.pdf
  • Sir Philo Sophia
    189
    Whereas I sayWayfarer
    Because, as Husserl explains in Crisis of European Sciences, Descartes' depiction of 'res cogitans' leads to it being characterised as a literal substance, something that objectively exists (or doesn't exist). Whereas I say that because you can never get outside consciousness, then it is never amongst the things that exist. It doesn't exist anywhere at all, certainly not 'in' brains or 'in' minds.Wayfarer

    That seems like some big leaps of assumptions to conclusions, resulting in an off-the-wall sounding position. Please clarify your logic/evidence why "It [consciousness] doesn't exist anywhere at all, certainly not 'in' brains or 'in' minds" In my current model, consciousness is in a unified resonance w/ the various brain/mind structures and I see some mechanics on how it could work.

    You’re talking about language in the sense of stringing symbols together to form a communication. I’m talking about the relation between a conception we think and the symbolism assigned that makes language possible. Because the same thing can be said in many different languages across cultures, and because the same thing can be said in exactly the same language regardless of culture, re: mathematics, and....as if that wasn’t enough...the same symbolism across cultures can indicate very different things, re: football, then it is readily apparent that experience of the thing being talked about, grounds the symbolism for talking about it.
    Disclaimer: I detest language philosophy;
    Mww

    you are talking about verbal language. However, under my theory I am working out a non-verbal linguistics that would certainly be independent of any verbal language or culture, and I'm not talking about anything like body-language. I see verbal language as the tip of the iceberg compared to all the non-verbal linguistics our brains/minds must use to ground our consciousness into sensory-motor & environmental realities.

    This notion can be hard to understand since we may feel that an individual word such as ‘tree’ does have some meaning for us, but Saussure’s argument is that its meaning depends on its relation to other words within the system (such as ‘bush’).
    ...
    Saussure emphasized in particular negative, oppositional differences between signs. He argued that ‘concepts . . . are defined not positively, in terms of their content, but negatively by contrast with other items in the same system. What characterizes each most exactly is being whatever the others are not’ (Saussure 1983, 115; my emphasis).
    — link

    I think Saussure is wrong on that. I'm sure both modes are employed. It would make little sense to do it one way or the other. A bush is just a parametric variant of a linguistic tree concept, so there is no need to instantiate one as a negative of the other b/c they are in fact on a continuum of the same parametric variables on the same model (e.g., has roots, trunk, branches, leaves, etc.) where the bush might be a shorter, wider, more leaf/branching density, less trunk thickness, etc.

    For Saussure, there are no objects (words/texts/others) that carry inherent, autonomous, "positive" meaning: there are only points of view whose meanings depend on their interrelatedness: Saussure states that "in language there are only differences without positive terms" (LT 88). Signifiers (sound images) and signifieds (concepts/meanings) are not fixed and universal and do not simply reflect or represent prior categories (the world/ideas/forms): language articulates or makes such categories and concepts possible. — Flores

    how would Saussure (et. al.) refute my above positive meaning of a linguistic tree vs bush concepts?
  • jjAmEs
    184
    I did say re Derrida's rejection of metaphysics "unless I am mistaken", so I haven't made any blanket claim such as Wayfer has re Dennett..Janus

    Fair enough.

    As to there being or not being mental "stuff": remember the point I made was that there is no determinate mental "stuff".Janus

    Fair enough. I think we agree on that point. But I don't see why there should be some kind of determinate physical stuff either. (I don't really want to say that 'there is not determinate stuff' but that other approaches seem more promising.)

    But if the indeterminate mental stuff going on is really just an emergent property or attribute of the the determinate physical stuff (which given what we know, seems most reasonable), then we have no need of, or rational justification for, dualistic metaphysics.Janus

    To be clear, I'm not defending a dualistic metaphysics. Personally I'm not crazy about the 'really just as emergent property.' It's still too metaphysical. Better to say perhaps that treating mind as a function of matter in certain contexts is useful. I like the spirit of the empiricists. I love Hobbes.
  • jjAmEs
    184
    A bush is just a parametric variant of a linguistic tree concept, so there is no need to instantiate one as a negative of the other b/c they are in fact on a continuum of the same parametric variables on the same model (e.g., has roots, trunk, branches, leaves, etc.) where the bush might be a shorter, wider, more leaf/branching density, less trunk thickness, etc.Sir Philo Sophia

    I understand your point, but expressing such a continuum would require an infinite number of signs. To be sure, individual human beings might have trouble choosing between 'bush' or 'shrub' in a particular situation. The boundary might be undecidable. The quote below might clarify the issue (difference between the system and its use.)

    I think a better argument against Saussure is our intuitive notion that individual signs hook up to individual intuitive content. But I don't think Saussure would deny it. Instead he stressed what might not be obvious to a non-linguist. (I'm not a linguist. I'm just studying Saussure lately and finding it illuminating.)

    Langue (French, meaning "language") and parole (meaning "speaking") are linguistic terms distinguished by Ferdinand de Saussure in his Course in General Linguistics. Langue encompasses the abstract, systematic rules and conventions of a signifying system; it is independent of, and pre-exists, individual users. Langue involves the principles of language, without which no meaningful utterance, "parole", would be possible. Parole refers to the concrete instances of the use of langue. This is the individual, personal phenomenon of language as a series of speech acts made by a linguistic subject.[1] Saussure did not concern himself overly with parole; however, the structure of langue is revealed through the study of parole. — link
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langue_and_parole
  • Sir Philo Sophia
    189
    I understand your point, but expressing such a continuum would require an infinite number of signs.jjAmEs

    I disagree, at least b/c in reality/practice there are a very finite set of linguistic object categories. I think you misunderstand my linguistic continuum to be like a number line. It is a quantized parametric continuum with a cloud of parametric variances (or fuzzy linguistic membership degree labels) separating adjacent sub-categories on the multi-dimensional linguistic model. Also, it is quite easy for a cNN to be trained to learn the hyper-planes that separate/clusters into the various object categories, and those could be linguistically labelled as such.

    ndividual human beings might have trouble choosing between 'bush' or 'shrub' in a particular situation. The boundary might be undecidablejjAmEs
    indeed, b/c they mean the same thing! :grin:

    Definition of bush. (Entry 1 of 8) 1a : shrub especially : a low densely branched shrub. b : a close thicket of shrubs suggesting a single plant. 2 : a large uncleared or sparsely settled area (as in Australia) usually scrub-covered or forested : wilderness —usually used with the.

    I think a better argument against Saussure is our intuitive notion that individual signs hook up to individual intuitive content.jjAmEs

    I don't understand. Seems way too vague to be useful. can you pls clarify in concrete terms, example(s) like I did mine.
  • jjAmEs
    184
    One last point worth mentioning I hope (and connected to the subject) is that, for Saussure, the sign is immaterial. Not just the signified but also the signifier!

    A linguistic sign is not a link between a thing and a name, but between a concept [signified] and a sound pattern [signifier]. The sound pattern is not actually a sound; for a sound is something physical. A sound pattern is the hearer’s psychological impression of a sound, as given to him by the evidence of his senses. This sound pattern may be called a ‘material’ element only in that it is the representation of our sensory impressions. The sound pattern may thus be distinguished from the other element associated with it in a linguistic sign. This other element is generally of a more abstract kind: the concept. — Saussure

    To make this concrete and to amplify it, consider that voices vary. The word 'fish' sounds different as different individuals pronounce it. We can recognize a friend's voice over the telephone for instance. So it's not just that the sound 'image' is immaterial. It also has to be classified.

    And then handwriting also varies. We don't all write zipcodes on envelopes the same way. Software can be trained to classify handwritten digits. Add to this the arbitrariness of the sign (what sound or shape we use doesn't matter) and the 'immateriality' of language becomes vivid. All the same it needs a medium.

    Here's a great video by a great maker of videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aircAruvnKk

    Perhaps this 'immateriality' of language has tempted us to think of an immaterial subject.
  • jjAmEs
    184


    I disagree, at least b/c in reality/practice there are a very finite set of linguistic object categories. Also, it is quite easy for a cNN to be trained to learn the hyper-planes that separate/clusters into the various object categories, and those could be linguistically labelled as such.Sir Philo Sophia

    That sounds like you agreeing! My point was/is that we use a finite set of signs. Perhaps re-read and see if it makes more sense. And I know about such classifiers. Funny you mention them. I just used them as an example in my previous post.

    I don't understand. Seems way too vague to be useful. can you pls clarify in concrete terms, example(s) like I did mine.Sir Philo Sophia

    I'll share a link with you. It's pointless to debate Saussure without you looking into him and getting the big picture. Also, if you read over the last few pages of this thread, you'll have some context. Without that context, of course it's vague! And that's one of the points made in this thread, that context is crucial. (And I also don't want to repeat all the stuff I've already said on this thread and clog it up.)

    https://slavicgf.sitehost.iu.edu/assignments/Chandler_ch1_pt1.pdf
  • Sir Philo Sophia
    189
    A s — Saussure

    The sound pattern is not actually a sound; for a sound is something physical. A sound pattern is the hearer’s psychological impression of a sound, as given to him by the evidence of his senses — Saussure

    not true. a sound pattern, after being converted to its electrical wave analog, is broken up into all kinds of meaningful physical features, many of which are well known (e.g., Hz, power, envelope, wavelets, harmonics, echos, reverb, etc., etc.). all of those parametric features can be captured as non-verbal linguistic labels, some of which can later aggregate into verbal linguistic meanings. As such, verbal linguistic meanings are not necessarily based on signs from the raw sensory signal, but actual sensor features (like the visual example for leaves on the tree are not signs of leaves but observed pixel analog pattern of tree leaves). the simplest (yet still highly simplified) example is sound hits the ear, the tapered cochlea does an effective FFT the hairs at the end detect the high pitches and generate corresponding electrical signal, auditory circuits detect the high Hz signal content and trigger a non-verbal concept of high pitch is present and a verbal circuit for the word 'high pitch' is bound to and triggered by this pathway being stimulated. So, when the person said that sound has 'high pitch' they are not relating to a sign of the 'high pitch' in the sound but an actual measurement transducer into an abstract verbal linguistic analog. How would Saussure counter this actual way things work in our brain, documented for such simple cases.


    The sound pattern may thus be distinguished from the other element associated with it in a linguistic sign. This other element is generally of a more abstract kind: the concept. — Saussure

    not in my above example.

    Add to this the arbitrariness of the sign (what sound or shape we use doesn't matter) and the 'immateriality' of language becomes vivid. All the same it needs a medium.jjAmEs

    this is just variance around central linguistic/visual model. There is nothing 'immaterial' about it. You just find the center of the training cluster and establish a linguistic category variance boundary (e.g., 1 standard deviation) to achieve a certain maximum error rate and you still have language based on actual raw data that is just characterized to be tolerant to parametric variation. Nothing to do with signs or abstractions creating immateriality. Please clarify further where my thinking is wrong there.

    I'll share a link with you. It's pointless to debate Saussure without you looking into him and getting the big picture. Also, if you read over the last few pages of this thread, you'll have some context. Without that context, of course it's vague!jjAmEs

    OK. thx. I'll read it over soon and come back to you understandings, pros/cons. However, based on our above exchange, I'm not expecting it to overcome my counter examples...
  • Sir Philo Sophia
    189
    That sounds like you agreeing! My point was/is that we use a finite set of signs.jjAmEs

    how is that agreeing b/c sounds like you critiqued me arguing the opposite: " but expressing such a continuum would require an infinite number of signs." I answered the continuum is quantized into fuzzy categories so very finite.
  • Wayfarer
    10.1k
    Perhaps this 'immateriality' of language has tempted us to think of an immaterial subject.jjAmEs

    What is reason? How do we know what things mean? Especially ambiguous things - handwritten things, ambiguous signs? We make judgments, we say ‘this means that’. And that can never have a materialist explanation. Materialism only ever talks in terms of physical causality - that’s what materialism means. But ‘cause’ in a rational sense, in the sense deployed by reason and language, comprises solely the relations between ideas. That’s why you can represent the same idea in completely diverse ways.
  • Mww
    1.8k
    I’m talking about the relation between a conception we think and the symbolism assigned that makes language possible. (...)
    Disclaimer: I detest language philosophy;
    — Mww

    you are talking about verbal language.
    Sir Philo Sophia

    Exactly the thing I’m NOT talking about. “Makes language possible” should have indicated I’m talking about the necessary a priori presuppositions for a particular human physical activity, not the enactment of it by means of its various indices.

    (Repeat disclaimer here)
  • Sir Philo Sophia
    189
    I'll share a link with you. It's pointless to debate Saussure without you looking into him and getting the big picture. Also, if you read over the last few pages of this thread, you'll have some context.jjAmEs

    Sorry, but I've started reading your cite of Pierce, and, off-the-bat, the opener already tells me that it fails to overcome my above counter examples; e.g., my linguistic "High pitch" example. No sign was involved in that pathway from sound to word. Semiotics seems to be much more about dogma, and its ardent supports much more interested in being in the cult of that dogma than seeking the reality of how practical cognitive systems can and do robustly work. Until a Semiotics supporter logically and sensible overcomes my counter examples, I'll pay little respect/credence for it as a viable explanatory principle.

    Can you (anyone) overcome my above concrete and simple counter examples?

    see:
    " Distinctively, we make meanings through our
    creation and interpretation of ‘signs’. Indeed, according to Peirce, ‘we think only in
    signs’ (Peirce 1931–58, 2.302). Signs take the form of words, images, sounds, odours,
    flavours, acts or objects, but such things have no intrinsic meaning and become signs
    only when we invest them with meaning. ‘Nothing is a sign unless it is interpreted as a
    sign’, declares Peirce (ibid., 2.172). Anything can be a sign as long as someone interprets
    it as ‘signifying’ something – referring to or standing for something other than itself. We
    interpret things as signs largely unconsciously by relating them to familiar systems of
    conventions. It is this meaningful use of signs which is at the heart of the concerns of
    semiotics."
  • Sir Philo Sophia
    189

    The next paragraph actually uses sound as their example. See below . In my above example, one of the cochlear hairs/nerves will detect and convert a specific frequency, say 10 KHz, and say the neural circuits, up the abstraction chain to verbal, assign a verbal linguistic word of 'High Pitch" to signify the 10KHz detection . The fact that verbal communication is done using symbols does not mean that the word "High Pitch" is purely ‘psychological’ having no material substance analog for which is represents exists in the external world b/c conveying 'I hear a High Pitch" is equal to the physical fact that a 10 KHz sound wave impacted your ear. They are one and the same, grounded in the physical existence, not some sign/symbol of some psychological impression.

    I read that whole chapter and am not impressed. Saussure’s original framework was clearly not workable or realistic, and his modern supporters fix only the most obvious flaws (e.g., admitting the signified can also be a physical object/event, not just a sign of a sign).
    Again, can you (anyone) overcome my above concrete and simple counter examples? Seems pretty nonsensical to me otherwise.

    ----------------

    the fact that it is some times more efficient to say what something is not does not mean/prove that it is always done that way in the brain. Often simpler to positively identify; e.g., color Red has such and such value ranges, vs. Red is not an infinite list of other colors.

    re "signs. He argued that ‘concepts . . . are defined not positively, in terms of their content,
    but negatively by contrast with other items in the same system. What characterizes each
    most exactly is being whatever the others are not’ (Saussure 1983, 115; my emphasis).
    This notion may initially seem mystifying if not perverse, but the concept of negative
    differentiation becomes clearer if we consider how we might teach someone who did not
    share our language what we mean by the term ‘red’. We would be unlikely to make our
    point by simply showing that person a range of different objects which all happened to be
    red – we would be probably do better to single out a red object from a sets of objects
    which were identical in all respects except colour."
    ------------------------------------------
    My cited passages where I see fails my counter examples:
    "A linguistic sign is not a link between a thing and a name, but between a concept
    [signified] and a sound pattern [signifier]. The sound pattern is not actually a
    sound; for a sound is something physical. A sound pattern is the hearer’s
    psychological impression of a sound, as given to him by the evidence of his
    senses. This sound pattern may be called a ‘material’ element only in that it is the
    representation of our sensory impressions. The sound pattern may thus be distinguished from the other element associated with it in a linguistic sign. This other element is generally of a more abstract kind: the concept. (Saussure 1983, 66)

    For Saussure, both the signifier (the ‘sound pattern’) and the signified (the concept) were
    purely ‘psychological’ (ibid., 12, 14–15, 66). Both were non-material form rather than
    substance. Figure 1.2 may help to clarify this aspect of Saussure’s own model.
    Nowadays, while the basic ‘Saussurean’ model is commonly adopted, it tends to be a
    more materialistic model than that of Saussure himself. The signifier is now commonly
    interpreted as the material (or physical) form of the sign – it is something which can be
    seen, heard, touched, smelled or tasted – as with Roman Jakobson’s signans, which he
    described as the external and perceptible part of the sign (Jakobson 1963b, 111; 1984b,
    98).
    ....
    As for the signified, Umberto Eco notes that it is somewhere between ‘a mental
    image, a concept and a psychological reality’ (Eco 1976, 14–15). Most commentators
    who adopt Saussure’s model still treat the signified as a mental construct, although they
    often note that it may nevertheless refer indirectly to things in the world. Saussure’s
    original model of the sign ‘brackets the referent’, excluding reference to objects existing
    in the world – somewhat ironically for one who defined semiotics as ‘a science which
    studies the role of signs as part of social life’ (Saussure 1983, "
  • jjAmEs
    184
    What is reason? How do we know what things mean? Especially ambiguous things - handwritten things, ambiguous signs? We make judgments, we say ‘this means that’. And that can never have a materialist explanation. Materialism only ever talks in terms of physical causality - that’s what materialism means. But ‘cause’ in a rational sense, in the sense deployed by reason and language, comprises solely the relations between ideas. That’s why you can represent the same idea in completely diverse ways.Wayfarer

    From my perspective, 'matter' and 'mind' are two more signs employed in our life-world or form of life. What you call 'reason' sounds like what I call being-in-language-with-others.

    https://teachlearn.pagesperso-orange.fr/Heidlang.pdf
    Man is said to have language by nature. It is held that man, in distinction from plant and animal, is the living being capable of speech. This statement does not mean only that, along with other faculties, man also possesses the faculty of speech. It means to say that only speech enables man to be the living being he is as man. It is as one who speaks that man is-man. These are Wilhelm von Humboldt's words. Yet it remains to consider what it is to be called-man. — Heidegger

    He eventually quotes Haman.

    If I were as eloquent as Demosthenes I would yet have to do nothing more than repeat a single word three times: reason is language, logos. I gnaw at this marrow-bone and will gnaw myself to death over it. There still remains a darkness, always, over this depth for me; I am still waiting for an apocalyptic angel with a key to this abyss. — Haman

    Then comments:

    For Hamann, this abyss consists in the fact that reason is language. Hamann returns to language in his attempt to say what reason is. His glance, aimed at reason, falls into the depths of an abyss. Does this abyss consist only in the fact that reason resides in language, or is language itself the abyss? We speak of an abyss where the ground falls away and a ground is lacking to us, where we seek the ground and set out to arrive at a ground, to get to the bottom of something. But we do not ask now what reason may be; here we reflect immediately on language and take as our main clue the curious statement, "Language is language." This statement does not lead us to something else in which language is grounded. Nor does it say anything about whether language itself may be a ground for something else. The sentence, "Language is language," leaves us to hover over an abyss as long as we endure what it says. — Heidegger

    To me the tautology language is language aims it emphasizing its primacy. An idealist might pose nature as derivative of 'spirit,' and the focus on language and the social is adjacent to idealism. A linguistic community can develop a tradition of explaining part of the world 'mechanically.' This part of the world, nature, ends up threatening 'spirit' as thinkers note that 'atoms and void' or their modern equivalent must somehow be the substratum of the human organism. So 'nature' is a creation of 'spirit' (a reasoning life-world-sharing community) and yet 'spirit' is (from a certain potent explanatory perspective) an epiphenomenon of nature. This gives us something like a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%B6bius_strip . But only perhaps if we insist that certain sentences remain forceful and true outside of all contexts. The world is 'really' mind or the world is 'really' matter. There's this stuff called 'meaning' or 'matter' that we are suppose to construct everything else out of. But language is neither/both, one might say. One is never done exploring this abyss.

    Language is a part of our organism and no less complicated than it.
    ...
    All testing, all confirmation and disconfirmation of a hypothesis takes place already within a system. And this system is not a more or less arbitrary and doubtful point of departure for all our arguments; no it belongs to the essence of what we call an argument. The system is not so much the point of departure, as the element in which our arguments have their life.
    — Wittgenstein
  • jjAmEs
    184
    The fact that verbal communication is done using symbols does not mean that the word "High Pitch" is purely ‘psychological’ having no material substance analog for which is represents exists in the external world b/c conveying 'I hear a High Pitch" is equal to the physical fact that a 10 KHz sound wave impacted your ear.Sir Philo Sophia

    I think you are missing the argument for the 'immateriality' of the sign. Let's record 100 different Americans speaking the word 'calculator.' No two of those Americans will say calculator in exactly the same way. The vibrations in the air will differ in each case. Yet we are also experts at recognizing the 'same' word in an 'infinity' of possible vocalizations. That sameness is 'ideal.'

    Or consider a classifier for handwritten digits. There are many ways to write a 7. None of these are the official or perfect way. The classifier learns from labelled examples to simulate the human ability of finding the ideally same in the concretely different.

    A second issue is the supposed physicality of 10 KHz sound. That mathematics is projected on the physical seems natural enough, but mathematics has the same kind of 'ideality' or 'immateriality' discussed above. To be clear, I'm not trying to derive the physical from the mental/ideal or the mental/ideal from the physical. I'm just trying to point out the complexity of the situation. I do not believe that the so-called 'physical' is as simple as some would like.
  • jjAmEs
    184
    Semiotics seems to be much more about dogma, and its ardent supports much more interested in being in the cult of that dogma than seeking the reality of how practical cognitive systems can and do robustly work. Until a Semiotics supporter logically and sensible overcomes my counter examples, I'll pay little respect/credence for it as a viable explanatory principle.Sir Philo Sophia

    It's fine with me if you have no use for it. I suspect that dogma are functioning with your perspective as well. I find the idea of some perfectly neutral and presuppositionless perspective highly suspect.

    I agree that disciplines concerned with prediction and control might not need much from semiotics or philosophy. A person can use the word 'physical' with a certain naivety (from my perspective) and still do important work, precisely because metaphysical concerns are often detached from differences that make a (practical) difference.

    But anti-philosophy doesn't untie but merely cuts knots.
  • jjAmEs
    184
    There is nothing 'immaterial' about it. You just find the center of the training cluster and establish a linguistic category variance boundary (e.g., 1 standard deviation) to achieve a certain maximum error rate and you still have language based on actual raw data that is just characterized to be tolerant to parametric variation. Nothing to do with signs or abstractions creating immateriality. Please clarify further where my thinking is wrong there.Sir Philo Sophia

    What is this center? The center of a category? Let's say you want to sort examples into 10 categories. It's that notion of the category that would be 'immaterial.' How is the category physical ? To reiterate, this is less about a defense of spooky objects than it is a challenge to the complacent use of 'physical.' In general I don't think we know exactly what we mean by words. We instead employ a know-how that was trained into us. So for me it's not obvious that there is some clean division between purely mental and purely physical realms. What we may share is a suspicion of traditional metaphysics. Where we may differ is that I know what 'idealists' are trying to point (the 'element of thought' in which tokens like 'physical' have any purchase in the first place.)

    The word 'physical' is a token within our being-in-language-with-others and being-in-the-world Even if we can profitably understand the 'life world' as founded on the physical (which of course we can and do), this kind of reductive understanding depends on what it reduces. For practical purposes, one can be philosophically lazy and embrace the 'physical' as what 'really' is. Why this is fine is IMV simply because the technology works. We might not know whether reality is 'ultimately' so-called mind or so-called matter or whether 'reality is really made of X' is a bogus approach in the first place. We can live and die without resolution of these fancy metaphysical issues. There's money and power in tech that works. Primarily practical animals are impatient with the 'pure' or merely theoretical tensions in concept systems. Philosophers are itchy artists, unreasonably reasonable, perhaps 'uselessly' fussy. To make this more concrete (the earlier point):

    Husserl’s most important point here, which I think is not explicitly made in the present collection, is that the standpoint or attitude that gives us the life-world (whether the same as the natural attitude of Ideas, I or not) is not just another one of the various possible standpoints on the world. Husserl’s view is that the world must first be given to us, experienced by us, in some “natural,” pre-theoretical, way and that only on the basis of that pre-given world can we adopt more specific standpoints from which we may examine the world. (See Crisis, §34e.)

    Majer and Føllesdal do emphasize the pre-givenness of the life-world as the background, usually unarticulated and unthematized, against which all our human activities are carried out and without which they would be impossible. Majer, relating Husserl’s ideas to those of David Hilbert and Hermann Weyl, emphasizes that even the activities involved in doing science presuppose an “irreducible fundament” (Weyl’s term) of ordinary, pre-theoretical, abilities. He quotes Weyl: “In physics, when we perform measurements and their necessary operations, we manipulate boards, wires, screws, cog-wheels, point and scale. We move here on the same level of understanding and action as the cabinet-maker or the mechanic in his workshop.” (Quoted by Majer, p. 58.) "’Lebenswelt‘," says Majer, "means a mode of life in which no theoretical knowledge is required, but only some practical abilities of understanding and acting are supposed, like those of the craftsman" (p. 58). These practical abilities — e.g., to use chalk to write symbols on a blackboard, to use a scale for measuring — are enablers of science as a cultural product, and it is the practical rather than the theoretical characteristics of chalk and scale, e.g., that explains their role here. Føllesdal and Friedman note, too, that it is the life-world that provides the ultimate justification for the claims of science: these claims rise or fall on how well predictions match up with life-world experience.
    — link

    The contrast between the subjectivity of the life-world and the “objective,” the “true” world, lies in the fact that the latter is a theoretical-logical substruction … of something that is in principle not perceivable, in principle not experienceable in its own proper being, whereas the subjective, in the life-world, is distinguished in all respects precisely by its being actually experienceable. — Husserl
    https://ndpr.nd.edu/news/science-and-the-life-world-essays-on-husserl-s-crisis-of-european-sciences/

    We don't experience electrons directly. They are theoretical entities that somehow are what is 'really' there. But I prefer instrumentalism. We have ways of talking that allow us to create useful technology. The issue of what is 'really' this or that seems secondary, except as it plays a role in worldviews (technologies of morale like religion or attachment to universal rationality and humanism.)
  • Janus
    9.4k
    Fair enough. I think we agree on that point. But I don't see why there should be some kind of determinate physical stuff either. (I don't really want to say that 'there is not determinate stuff' but that other approaches seem more promising.)jjAmEs

    All I'm saying is that there is, for all intents and purposes, determinate physical stuff, it's an epistemological claim, and I'm not trying to support any metaphysical claim beyond that or even that any such claim would be coherent.

    It's about what we know (in the everyday, not in some absolutely certain, sense); we know there is physical stuff and that we can measure it, model it, theorize and make predictions about it. There is no analogous situation with any mysterious mental stuff that cannot be understood to consist in physical processes; i.e. neural structures and networks, and so on).

    None of this diminishes in any way what we can feel in aesthetic, poetic or spiritual ways. We cannot understand (fully, at least) how such experiences are possible for physical systems, but that ignorance does give us any justification for believing in any mystical stuff, any justification for metaphysical dualism in other words.

    Now I may have or have had experiences which lead me to believe in such mystical ideas, or at least entertain them as ideas, but such experiences can never be offered as inter-subjectively justifiable statements about some matters of fact or other.

    That's all I've been trying to point out.
  • jjAmEs
    184
    It's about what we know (in the everyday, not in some absolutely certain, sense); we know there is physical stuff and that we can measure it, model it, theorize and make predictions about it.Janus

    Sure. I know what you are getting at, and I agree. We have prediction and control, technology. Ordinary language deals with this stuff successfully, practically. No one has to know exactly what 'physical' is supposed to mean in order to employ the sign in context to get things done.

    There is no analogous situation with any mysterious mental stuff that cannot be understood to consist in physical processes; i.e. neural structures and networks, and so on).Janus

    My point is that mental stuff is quotidian, and we deal with it in the same casual way. Science also deals with it.

    Linguistics is the scientific study of language.[1] It involves analysing language form, language meaning, and language in context.[2] Linguists traditionally analyse human language by observing an interplay between sound and meaning.[3] — Wiki

    In particular, signs are not material/physical. The notion of the same word being used by different humans with different physical vocalizations is already 'immaterial.' I gave an informal argument for this above. Even just counting employs the ideal identity of different objects.

    We can and do have a science of form and meaning. Indeed, science exists within something like form and meaning. Our models themselves are conceptual and mathematical and not physical, even if they are (only sometimes) about what we conveniently if vaguely categorize as physical. The temptation seems to be to identify the physical with that which we can talk objectively about. I don't think the reduction of objectivity to (physical) objects works. To be objective is to be unbiased, 'not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.'

    None of this diminishes in any way what we can feel in aesthetic, poetic or spiritual ways. We cannot understand (fully, at least) how such experiences are possible for physical systems, but that ignorance does [not] give us any justification for believing in any mystical stuff, any justification for metaphysical dualism in other words.Janus

    I agree. I'd just add that our position is not some neutral position. Others can and have taken such feelings for justifications. That we exclude such 'justifications' as invalid says something about our own commitments. Our ontological prejudices (our pre-grasp of the situation) tend to understand the 'spiritual' in terms of mundane things like feelings, thoughts, myths. (Or I think we agree here.) I'd probably stress the sociality of the 'spiritual,' and include my own anti-metaphysical biases as an expression of a Baconian (anti-)spirtuality. The reason for being skeptical about 'mystical' stuff is (to overstate it) because it does not give us reliable technology, including techniques for reliable prediction. Instead the 'mystical stuff' is more like a technology of morale --it works if and because you believe in it. In contrast, we have a more objective science that works whether or not one believes in it. We distrust it at our own risk.

    Now I may have or have had experiences which lead me to believe in such mystical ideas, or at least entertain them as ideas, but such experiences can never be offered as inter-subjectively justifiable statements about some matters of fact or other.

    That's all I've been trying to point out.
    Janus

    We are basically on the same page on this particular issue. The essence seems to be that 'spirituality' is private matter. What's interesting is that such a view is public/dominant form of spirituality. Politics is applied religion, in other words, and the privatization of religion (which I am fine with) is the triumph of a particular (metaphorically) spiritual view.
  • Andrew M
    1.1k
    What Wittgenstein's thought experiment shows is that if there were such a beetle, then we wouldn't be able to talk about it. Now we can talk about pain, colors and meaning - they have a place in the language game. Whereas the beetle - a hypothetical entity that can't be referenced or talked about - drops out as irrelevant.
    — Andrew M

    I mostly agree with you. Note however that we are talking about the beetle.
    jjAmEs

    Yes, but as a hypothetical entity. We can talk about ghosts as hypothetical entities as well, but we should resist the temptation to treat them as real.

    To me qualia serve that kind of goal. Maybe what I call 'red' is what you call 'green.' No way to check!jjAmEs

    I call fire engines 'red' - what do you call them? ;-)

    What you're referring to, of course, is how something appears to you. But in this case, it's more or less certain that things appear differently to each of us, at least to some degree, since a lot of things can affect that. We can appreciate this when we wear sunglasses.

    So we can investigate what those conditions might be, from the reflective surfaces to the lighting conditions to the physical composition of our eyes and brains. In each case we're investigating real things, not hypothetical entities.

    So none of this is a reason to treat how something appears to us as an entity itself. That's just sense-data which brings its own notorious problems. It's like treating the "bent"-stick-in-water as an entity in its own right.
  • Andrew M
    1.1k
    Part One:

    understanding denotes an achievement, not a task (nor a faculty or capability).
    — Andrew M
    ......to better understand our disagreements is an achievement, which we can then say only evolves by the faculty of understanding being tasked to achieve it.

    Such would be a semantic quibble if it weren’t already a theoretical tenet.
    Mww

    Sure. However the semantic quibble for me is the assigning of agency to a faculty...

    Agreed, not private (per the PLA), because there is no such thing as a PLA anyway. I meant private insofar as inaccessible except as the necessarily abstract ground for transcendental philosophy. Therein, the mind is conceived as the irreducible condition for all that pure reason seeks for itself.Mww

    ... and also here, the assigning of agency to (pure) reason. Only a human being is "tasked to achieve" something or "seeks for itself".

    Your "except" above marks off our different approaches. You say mind is private because rationality transcends nature. I say mind is public because rationality is immanent in nature (and is thus observable). This is an example of reallocating facts - Ryle's logical cartography.

    More commonly, I suppose, mind is what the brain does, which is just about as empty a conception as there could ever be.Mww

    It's a reductionist slogan and, as you note, an empty conception.

    And your different way of conceptualizing mind would be......? Which I take as a different concept of mind, in as much as I think we all conceptualize, as a task, the same way.Mww

    I agree with the provided Bennett and Hacker quote, "Talk of the mind, one might say, is merely a convenient facon de parler, a way of speaking about certain human faculties and their exercise...". Whereas I reject the Cartesian-style conception of mind (and subject).

    On ordinary language: thanks for the explanations; things are clearer for me with them, with respect to Ryle.
    On theoretical terminology: understood, even if I maintain that hardly any of it is necessary. I mean...thinking and thinking deeply being two different things? I don’t see the theoretical benefit in that fine a distinction.
    Mww

    No, that's not the distinction. The distinction is between thinking (e.g., about a math problem) and the conclusion one reaches as the result of thinking (e.g., that 2+2=4).

    So Alice might cognize that 2+2=4 after much cogitation. And note that she couldn't cognize that 2+2=5, since it's false - to cognize something imples that one has been successful - an achievement. Whereas Alice can nonetheless cogitate about two plus two equaling five or one hand clapping if that's her thing.

    Put differently, it's like the difference between trying to find your keys (the task or process) and finding your keys (the achievement).

    The minor objection: the passage itself may be a clear distillation of Ryle, but I don’t get where he thinks Descartes and Plato are transcendentalists.Mww

    Where he says, "Our Reductionist had begun by assailing Cartesian and Platonic extravagances on the basis of what can be, in an ordinary way, observed."

    Those extravagences (the "lavishness of the transcendentalist") are Descartes' res cogitans and Plato's ideal Forms.

    The major objection: for those I do see as Transcendentalists, or, more properly, transcendental idealists, it must be granted that the “lavishness of the transcendentalist” means the invocation of a priori cognitions and knowledge, and calling such invocation occult-ish and “transcending powers of perception”, is what is not even wrong.

    Can you show what the lavishness of the transcendentalist is, that isn’t the advocacy of the a priori, to show what I thought Ryle meant, is incorrect?
    Mww

    Ryle mentions Kant earlier on:

    If we did not know, we could now guess that there would have to arise a Hume to "reduce" thinking to mere processions of these faint and derivative introspectibles down channels shallowly dug by Association; and how there would then have to arise a Kant or a Bradley to impose upon these processions some responsible controls that transcend the pryings of introspection.Gilbert Ryle - Thinking and Saying

    Hume reduces thinking to constant conjunctions. In response, Kant transcendentalizes thinking. Ryle suggests instead that thinking "is saying things to [one]self with a special governing purpose". That's a natural definition that is neither reducible to just talking to oneself nor appeals to anything that transcends what is observable.

    Note that Ryle recognizes purpose (and logic and reason) as immanent in this world. Not in a reductionist sense (Nothing But, the machine) nor in a transcendent sense (Something Else As Well, the ghost).

    Ryle's broader argument is that by rectifying the logical geography here (i.e., rejecting both the ghost and the machine and reallocating the facts marshalled by the transcendentalist and reductionists), the natural world becomes intelligible.
    — Andrew M

    On the other hand, rejecting the alleged ghost and the machine the ghost supposedly lives in, seems to be rejecting the a priori aspect of human reason, and by association, the faculties in which the a priori resides. The intelligibility of the natural world is not the same as knowledge of the natural world, however, and because of that, I reject the notion that the latter is even possible without the former.
    Mww

    Yes, knowledge is not possible without intelligibility. So the point at issue is whether that's because the conditions of experience transcend the natural world or because they are immanent in it.

    For Kant, the a priori imposes controls on "the pryings of introspection". For Ryle, logical conditions are implicit in our practical experiences and observations.

    We're talking about the same thing, but just allocating them to different places.
  • Andrew M
    1.1k
    Part Two:

    The illusion of sunrise is much better, because it took so long to remedy, and because we thought of the sun as actually rising/setting for so long, we still use the terminology for it in common understandings.Mww

    Fair enough.

    I don’t know what it means for an object to have form in relation to a perceiver. What is the relationship between your form and my properties?Mww

    On my model, an object is something an observer can point to. So it has form in relation to an observer, it's not intrinsic or invariant. We get a sense of how things can vary for different observers from, for example, color perception studies in animals and relativistic physics (reference frames).

    I shall take that as saying we still agree language always presupposes experience.
    — Mww

    No, I don't agree with that!
    — Andrew M

    Then you are forced to admit to naming things, or at least to admit it is not a problem to name things, about which you know nothing whatsoever. In addition, you’ll find yourself unable to explain how it is that, sittin’ ‘round the dinner table as a kid, you didn’t understand what it meant when your parents talked about balancing the checkbook.

    You’re talking about language in the sense of stringing symbols together to form a communication. I’m talking about the relation between a conception we think and the symbolism assigned that makes language possible. Because the same thing can be said in many different languages across cultures, and because the same thing can be said in exactly the same language regardless of culture, re: mathematics, and....as if that wasn’t enough...the same symbolism across cultures can indicate very different things, re: football, then it is readily apparent that experience of the thing being talked about, grounds the symbolism for talking about it.

    Disclaimer: I detest language philosophy; its what professionals do because all the cool stuff’s been done already and they can’t think of a way to improve on it.
    Mww

    Perhaps we're at cross purposes here - I don't understand what you're arguing above.

    All I'm saying is that someone, somewhere, has to observe a tree (i.e., experience something) before people can meaningfully talk about trees (i.e., have language about something).

    Edit: On rereading, I see that I misread your initial comment. We do agree that language always presupposes experience. Sorry about that!

    I regard realization there as a logical condition, not a process in time.
    — Andrew M

    Understood, and I can see that as a logical condition. What would you say to this: all human thought is singular and successive. If such should be the case, then change in subjective condition (Bob racing, Bob winning) is necessarily a process in time.
    Mww

    I would deny that Bob racing and Bob winning are subjective conditions or thoughts at all, they instead take place in the world. Bob racing is a process that occurs over a period of time. Whereas Bob winning is a condition that obtains at a single point in time.

    He's denying a stamp-collecting approach to thinking and saying, either as a catalog of bodily movements or as a catalog of mental activities. Ryle brings in reason in the completion of that sentence where he includes the logical conditions under which thinking and saying occur, "... but some nexus of statable because statement-shaped conditions."
    — Andrew M

    See....I didn’t catch any of that from the passage. And I couldn’t unpack that last part at all. And I don’t understand “stamp-collecting”.
    Mww

    By stamp-collecting, I mean a purposeless sequence of actions. When Alice is looking for her keys, that does not consist of merely looking here and looking there (the Nothing But story). Instead Alice has a purpose that explains her looking, namely, that of finding her keys.

    Now that purpose is not transcendent to her looking as a separate mental action (the Something Else As Well story), that purpose is instead immanent in her looking and is what makes her actions intelligible to others.

    But I also think there is a give-and-take - some conceptual schemes are natural and well-motivated, others not so much. If I call a tail a leg, how many legs does a horse have?
    — Andrew M

    No fair. We already know tails from legs. But if the very first naming of that wispy thing hanging off the south end of a north-bound horse was “leg”, or whatever.....that’s what we’d be calling it today, and all horses would have but one leg.

    What is a conceptual scheme?
    Mww

    A way of thinking about the world.

    In my contrived example, it would be a model of a horse as having four legs and a tail and an alternative model of a horse having five legs.

    In science, it would include heliocentrism v. geocentrism, and classical physics v. quantum physics.

    In the context of this thread, dualism and naturalism are different conceptual schemes.
  • Sir Philo Sophia
    189
    knowledge is not possible without intelligibility.Andrew M
    The intelligibility of the natural world is not the same as knowledge of the natural world, however, and because of that, I reject the notion that the latter is even possible without the former.Mww

    I disagree with that. I can think of practical situations where knowledge is formed from information that is not intelligible; that is, I do not believe that it is a requirement that the info is capable of being understood or comprehended by the cognitive agent, it only matters, for example, that the info in question can be pattern matched and associated (even correlated) with something useful or meaningful or reduces the entropy of something else.
  • Andrew M
    1.1k
    Can you give a specific example?
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Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.