• Banno
    10k
    Is it? It's one of a few articles in which Davidson stretches his semantic theory of meaning, perhaps beyond what it is capable of maintaining. It fits neatly in the progression of his thinking.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    2.7k


    Yeah. It's already obvious that kids are generalizing. ("I breaked it." Or Google the wug experiment if you don't know it.) Chomsky's idea was that if kids are not just parroting what they've heard, but using the sample to construct a system of rules, and then that system is what they actually use to produce speech, that would provide a way of overruling the erroneous examples a simpler theory might expect them to regurgitate.

    Subsequent research clearly backs up the basic idea. No linguist today would imagine kids just repeat what they've heard. All the fighting since has been about the nature and extent of the rules, what sorts of things might just be memorized, etc.

    That's my understanding.
  • Banno
    10k
    There's an example from an earlier piece by Davidson, on Frege's invention of the function of asserting, '⊢'. Why had this function not previously existed? Davidson gives the example of an actor, who at the behest of the writer finds himself acting the role of asserting that there is a fire: "Fire, Fire! See the smoke!", he yells, as part of the play. But should a fire actually break out during his performance, and he is really attempting to warn the audience, how would what he says differ? "⊢ Fire, Fire! See the smoke!" adds nothing; indeed if it did, the writer would have already included it in the play!

    It's not a convention that what one says by way of a statement is an assertion; if it were, the turnstile would add something to the utterance.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.6k
    Processing information is an algorithmic process.
    — Harry Hindu

    What should one understand by this?

    An algorithmic process is one that follows explicit rules; I'm suggesting that the rules must be explicit, since in order to recognise that he process one is following is algorithmic, one must recognise the rules one is following.

    What's the rule one follows in recognising the joke ‘We need a few laughs to break up the monogamy’? Is it the very same rule we follow when we laugh at ‘We’re all cremated equal’?

    Or are we to say that in recognising the joke, one is not processing information?

    Experience is information, I'm told; processing information is algorithmic; an algorithm is a method for solving a malapropism.

    So what, exactly, is the algorithm being used?

    Or is Harry's use of "algorithm" itself a malapropism?
    Banno
    You're simply describing the same problem, but with different variables.
    A calculator, for instance, can solve addition problems no matter what numbers you are adding. Brains solve grammar and vocabulary problems no matter what words are being used.

    Computer programs run the same algorithm on different data, thanks to the use of variables in the program. The algorithm uses the variables and the variables can contain different data, but the same rule is being run and used to solve the same problem.

    The algorithm to put out a fire is to smother it. You might use water and I might use dirt. We are using the same algorithm, but with different variables, and accomplishing the same thing - putting out the fire - thanks to using the same algorithm, not thanks to the different variables, because if neither of us used the dirt or water to smother the fire, the problem doesn't get solved.

    Words not only point to things, and what they point to is compared in the mind, but words are seen and heard and their shapes and sounds are compared in the mind as well. Those associations are created and stored in long-term memory over time and are recalled when some word is read or heard. The associations might be different because each person will have unique experiences with the rules and vocabulary of some language, but overall the associations are fairly consistent or else there would be a great deal less accuracy in communicating. This is why children would have trouble getting your jokes, where adults would have less trouble.

    The difference in how different individuals might solve the problem or not is related to what information different individuals have access to - like that there is a dance called the Flamenco in the first place. A person that has never heard of the Flamenco will come to a different conclusion (probably not the correct one) of what the speaker meant than one that has heard of the dance. Because they aren't aware that there is a dance called the Flamenco, they would not interpret it as an error in speech but would believe that there is an actual dance called the Flamingo. For them, there would be no problem to solve.

    If we weren't using the same algorithm to solve the same problem, then you have your work cut out for you in explaining how we can come to the same conclusion of what was actually meant. How is it that you and I understand not only why those are errors, but what was actually meant, if we aren't following the same rules?
  • Harry Hindu
    3.6k
    Rhyming or similarity of sound are kinds of association and association of ideas is another. That's obvious to anyone who thinks about it for a few moments.Janus
    Exactly, so now I'm confused as to why my analogy didn't work for you if you're now admitting that similarity of sound and shape are the associations that are used to solve the problem of what is actually meant to be said but wasn't? How would you solve the problem of interpreting someone's improper use of a hammer as a meat tenderizer? How would you interpret what they intend if not by the similar shape if the tool that they are using and the similar action in using it? How do you interpret what was meant when someone utters an unintentional word that sounds like the intended word if not by comparing the similarity of sound and use with the intended word?

    The question is can you come up with anything more interesting or enlightening to say about it than that? Does the paper we are supposed to be critiquing manage to come up with any such thing? Not as far as I can tell.Janus
    Finding something interesting isn't the goal here. Finding the truth is. Philosophy is in the habit of questioning the trivial things that we might be taking for granted. Its just that some, like Banno, keep questioning trivial things - like the idea that brains are algorithmic and perform computations to solve problems, like malapropisms.

    According to Harry a malapropism must sound like or rhyme with the word it has replaced.Janus
    It's not just me. Look it up in a dictionary or Google it.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    2.7k
    It's not a convention that what one says by way of a statement is an assertionBanno

    Or you could say, as LW might in different words, that it's the context in which you state that leads people to treat your statement as an assertion; you acting in a play and them being in the audience is not that context.

    Sometime check out a beautiful little book by Ruth Krauss called A Hole Is To Dig. It's definitions offered by a kindergarten class made into a little picture book. Besides the title, we find "A hole is when you step in it you go down," and "There's a difference between pretending you're a lion and pretending you're really a lion."
  • Banno
    10k
    If we weren't using the same algorithm to solve the same problem, then you have your work cut out for you in explaining how we can come to the same conclusion of what was actually meant. How is it that you and I understand not only why those are errors, but what was actually meant, if we aren't following the same rules?Harry Hindu


    This looks like the same transcendental argument you have used before: There is a thing called "what was actually meant", that is shared by multiple individuals; the only way this could occur is if we were all doing the same thing - following the same rules; hence interpretation is algorithmic.

    But of course there is not one thing that is what was actually meant, and which is shared by multiple folk.
  • Banno
    10k
    Sometime check out a beautiful little book by Ruth Krauss called A Hole Is To Dig. It's definitions offered by a kindergarten class made into a little picture book. Besides the title, we find "A hole is when you step in it you go down," and "There's a difference between pretending you're a lion and pretending you're really a lion."Srap Tasmaner

    Sounds very cool. I'll look for it.
  • Isaac
    3.3k
    The high necessity of working memory indicates that learning how people use words is very useful for survival, so extra energy that is used to extrapolate what is communicated from sounds and scribbles is necessary for survival.Harry Hindu

    Maybe true, but how we interpret what other people say is a completely different process which takes place in a different part of the brain. I was talking here about how we construct expressions. @Srap Tasmaner asked a question, so I thought it might be helpful to answer, that's all. I see now that the question was probably rhetorical, so we can ignore this diversion.

    The comparison of sounds, and their similarities and differences, happens within consciousness.
    — Harry Hindu

    According to whom? — Isaac

    According to conscious beings, like myself. It is not only observable in my mind that sounds are compared, but logical in that you can only compare what appears in consciousness.
    Harry Hindu

    Not getting this at all I'm afraid. Not sure it's relevant to the discussion though so unless it is you can leave off answering my query, but - how can you use what you're consciously aware of to judge what does or does not happen in your sub-conscious? I really don't understand this "you can only compare what appears in consciousness". Why? What prevents neuronal networks from comparing things without your conscious awareness but allows then to when they involve conscious awareness?
  • Olivier5
    1.2k
    But of course there is not one thing that is what was actually meant, and which is shared by multiple folk.Banno
    And hence communication is impossible... :joke:
  • Banno
    10k
    And hence communication is impossible... :joke:Olivier5

    Well, no. What is at fault is the explanation of communication in terms of reified meaning.
  • Olivier5
    1.2k
    What is at fault is the explanation of communication in terms of reified meaning.Banno
    Meaning is not a thing, huh? I guess it's a nothing then, which is true in the specific case of people who make a lot of noise with their mouth to say nothing.
  • Banno
    10k
    No, meaning not a thing, it is what is done.

    You know better than that.
  • Olivier5
    1.2k
    Indeed I know better than that, and you don't even know what you mean...
  • bongo fury
    694
    It's not a convention that what one says by way of a statement is an assertion; if it were, the turnstile would add something to the utterance.Banno

    Clarification, please? If it were... mandatory that the statement was an assertion? ...or, mandatory that it needed or allowed specifying as such? ...or...?
  • Harry Hindu
    3.6k
    This looks like the same transcendental argument you have used before: There is a thing called "what was actually meant", that is shared by multiple individuals; the only way this could occur is if we were all doing the same thing - following the same rules; hence interpretation is algorithmic.

    But of course there is not one thing that is what was actually meant, and which is shared by multiple folk.
    Banno
    Strange, considering that this thread seems to be dedicated to what Davidson meant. If Davidson didn't mean one thing with his use of words, then it appears that he didn't mean anything, or at least it would be impossible for you to ever get at what he meant.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.6k
    Not getting this at all I'm afraid. Not sure it's relevant to the discussion though so unless it is you can leave off answering my query, but - how can you use what you're consciously aware of to judge what does or does not happen in your sub-conscious? I really don't understand this "you can only compare what appears in consciousness". Why? What prevents neuronal networks from comparing things without your conscious awareness but allows then to when they involve conscious awareness?Isaac
    Yes. I thought the same when Srap Tasmaner mentioned "awareness". We'd need to nail down what we mean by "awareness" and conscious vs subconscious.
  • Banno
    10k
    So we can use the word. It does not follow that it is the name of a thing.

    Oh, wait, that's your theory of language, isn't it - that all words are the names of things.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.6k
    That they point to things, yes. Davidson is pointing to HIS idea and his intent to communicate it, not yours, creativesoul or Janus ideas or else we'd be getting at what you meant, not Davidson.

    Think about it, Banno. If I copy what you said, word for word, you might cry, "plagiarism!" But if words meant different things then my word for word duplication could mean something else, so what place does plagiarism take in your theory?
  • bongo fury
    694


    I can't make a passing theory of what you meant, here.

    If it were mandatory that the statement were an assertion, then the turnstile would add something (viz, what was already mandated)?

    Nvm. Found the passage (though not the paper).
  • Isaac
    3.3k
    We'd need to nail down what we mean by "awareness" and conscious vs subconscious.Harry Hindu

    Conscious processes would be those we experience the stages of, sub-conscious processes would be those we experience only the results of, and infer the stages from experimental investigation (such as lesion studies, fMRI scanning in various forms of aphasia, etc). That's how I'd separate them, anyway.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.6k
    So we can use the word. It does not follow that it is the name of a thing.Banno
    Saying that you're using a word is only getting at a fraction of what is going on. How are you using it - to what end - if not to name your ideas?
  • Harry Hindu
    3.6k
    Conscious processes would be those we experience the stages of, sub-conscious processes would be those we experience only the results of, and infer the stages from experimental investigation (such as lesion studies, fMRI scanning in various forms of aphasia, etc). That's how I'd separate them, anyway.Isaac
    Where, or what, is the "we" in this explanation? Is it a human body, a human brain, a human mind or what?

    If conscious processes are stages that we experience and sub-conscious process results are what we experience, then are you saying that the stages are the results that "we" experience? What is the relationship between the stages and the results that we experience? How does the sub-consciousness interact with the consciousness to create results that "we" experience? And then what is an "experience"?
  • Banno
    10k
    ...mandatory...bongo fury

    Mandatory, as in there were a law passed, so that anyone who uttered a statement with the illocutionary force of a question would be subject to some penalty?

    No, I don't see what you are asking. Sorry.
  • Banno
    10k
    Think about it, Banno. If I copy what you said, word for word, you might cry, "plagiarism!" But if words meant different things then my word for word duplication could mean something else, so what place does plagiarism take in your theory?Harry Hindu

    I again find your thinking incomprehensible.
  • bongo fury
    694
    I don't see what you are asking.Banno

    Only for clarification. Which is probably too much. :wink:
  • Banno
    10k
    It's not a convention that what one says by way of a statement is an assertion; if it were, the turnstile would add something to the utterance.
    — Banno

    Clarification, please? If it were... mandatory that the statement was an assertion? ...or, mandatory that it needed or allowed specifying as such? ...or...?
    bongo fury

    Consider the actor acting the line "Fire, fire!". It is not the case that there is a fire. Is an assertion made? Is the actor asserting, falsely, that there is a fire? Or is the actor participating in an activity in which we all pretend that there is a fire, such that the truth or falsehood of "Fire, fire!" is irrelevant? If the actor yelled "Fire, fire!" on an occasion in which, unbeknownst, there actually was a fire, would that make their utterance true? I don't think so. The actor is making use of the syntactical form of the statement but in an activity in which no assertion is made.

    Do you agree?
  • bongo fury
    694
    A declarative sentence is the standard linguistic device for pointing a word at one or more objects.

    An assertion is the device in operation.

    Why is it hard to tell the difference? Because the operation is a fantasy.

    https://youtu.be/Tud43e2dT30?t=303
  • Srap Tasmaner
    2.7k
    Because the operation is a fantasy.bongo fury

    What's the intended force of this though?

    Are you distinguishing reference from something we do with language that is not a fantasy?

    If you are, what's that? If you aren't, why should we care?
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