• creativesoul
    5.4k
    “Either way” is miselading how? I simply said squiggles or not there is physical presence (therefore an archeological artifact).I like sushi

    You gave two choices. Those were contained within quotation marks. I said neither.
  • creativesoul
    5.4k
    You used the word “text”. If you call something a “text” then you’re saying it is a “text”. Don’t blame me for your lack of clarity.I like sushi

    Lack of clarity?

    It's a text. Texts are in language. Languages are meaningful to their users. Ancient texts were meaningful to their users.

    How much clearer can it be said?


    You are presupposing something lost by calling it a “text”. If not then you’re saying little more than “this text is not a text”. At best you could say this is not a text it is a pseudo-text.

    What I can say - at best - is what follows from my argument, not yours. You offered two choices. Both were in quotes. Neither accurately represents my arguments. Both say something I have not and would not.


    Surely you can follow my thinking here?

    Your line of thinking here is a summation, and quite the mistaken one at that, of my own.
  • I like sushi
    1.1k


    I think the remark about the Rosetta Stone may help here.

    The Rosetta Stone is an ancient artifact. It is not correct to say the “language is still in use” in the same manner it is incorrect to say that Old English is still in use. Languages are plastic; they evolve.

    In the language of mathematics the meaning does persist through time. If all trace of it was lost it could still be rediscovered, and in this line of thinking propositional logic could still be rediscovered too.

    Colloquial speech is a different landscape because we have artistry involved in the form of idioms and analogies that may, or may not, refer to specific historical instances of which the context may be lost.

    I imagine this is all quite obvious to most people here. So what is your point in light of the above? I still don’t see much yet I assume there is a lot more to this because you persist.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    Just because it has not been mentioned, does not mean it hasn't been accounted for.creativesoul

    Agreed. But lack of mention means that this accounting is far from obvious.... :chin:
  • I like sushi
    1.1k


    You’re being pedantic. You said “ancient text” in the OP and the second term in parenthesis was clearly a suggestion that would make sense (at least to me.)

    I am, and have been, asking what your point is. I’ve not seen one yet.
  • creativesoul
    5.4k
    I think we can agree that meaning of the same marks, signs, and symbols changes through time and different use. The scare-quotes are no longer necessary. The meaning of a text is determined by the users of the language. That meaning can persist through time even if there are more than one(accepted in practice) use for the marks, even if the marks are correlated to different things than the original users. The original meaning, however, could not persist if no one correlated the marks to the same things at all. The same holds good of all common use.
    — creativesoul

    Clearly the scare-quotes are necessary, as you continue to assert that meaning can persist through time, when I’ve already explained why it doesn’t. There is a difference between continuity of meaning and persistent meaning - the original meaning does not persist, it cannot persist because of the nature of meaning. Once the text is created, all we have are relationships between the text within context (including the author’s subjective experience) and ourselves within context.
    Possibility

    You've set out a distinction between persistent meaning and the continuity of meaning, whereas the former is unequivocally denied. That outright denial follows from your notion/conception of meaning which you're confident accounts for and/or is applicable to all examples of meaning as indicated by the mention of "the nature of meaning" in addition to the line of reasoning offered in support of that. So, if I understand you rightly, then "the nature of meaning" is explained and/or exemplified by it's continuity, and because of that, meaning cannot persist through time.

    Do you agree that the meaning of the same marks, signs, and symbols changes through time with different use?



    When we talk about meaning persisting, we mistakenly assume that we can extract the original meaning of some texts but not others, when the best we can do is approach it by understanding (often by imagining) the context of the author’s experience.

    This is what happens when you make a statement or assertion in this forum, too. The original meaning of your statement exists only in your subjective relationship with what you wrote. You cannot assume that it persists anywhere else, let alone that anyone reading it would understand your meaning as ‘the meaning’ simply because the markings you’ve used to communicate it are regularly in use today. So when they query what you wrote, you can’t just refer back to what you wrote as if ‘the meaning’ is inherent in the markings themselves. You need to give more information about the subjective experience behind what you wrote. You need to offer more context. Otherwise they attribute their own meaning to what you wrote, or dismiss it as nonsense.
    Possibility

    One who unequivocally denies that meaning can persist through time doesn't talk about what it takes, for if they do they arrive at incoherence/equivocation/self-contradiction. It's also bad form(at best) and/or fallacious(at worst) for an author to talk in terms of "we" when s/he is not of the group. The group, in this instance, consists of those who argue for and thus talk about the persistence of meaning. I am one of that group, and I'm perfectly capable of making my own arguments. When I talk about meaning persisting, I do not talk in terms of 'extracting' meaning because that would be to presuppose that meaning was the sort of thing that can be extracted - in some complete 'form' or another - from only a text. It's not, ancient texts notwithstanding.

    May I suggest that you re-read what I've argued for(and against) here, because much of your disagreement rests upon something other than what I've been arguing?



    How does this relate to the ancient text? Well, an ancient text, like all texts, does not stand alone - it exists in context. So it is only potentially meaningless if we are ignorant of context - of the relationships it has with anything and everything we experience and interact with today - not just the language. As long as we can relate to the context surrounding a text, we can begin to approach the original meaning, to imagine it and strive to understand it - although only the author could ever really ‘know’ it. This is not necessarily because it is ancient and the original users of the language are all dead. It’s difficult to assume the original meaning even of a modern text, if we cannot relate to its context.Possibility

    In the beginning of your reply you said, and I quote, "Once the text is created, all we have are relationships between the text within context (including the author’s subjective experience) and ourselves within context." You've now brought that claim to bear in what's directly above; full circle, as it were. That claim is dubious. There are a number of possible scenarios regarding text creation.

    The issue here is the very notion of context that you're employing as a means to account for meaning.

    Meaning is determined by the language users drawing correlations between the text and other things. The context is the other things. The language users no longer exist. The other things may or may not. The correlations drawn by the users between the text and the other things no longer exist. We do not have the context of an ancient text. The context is gone.

    Saying "an ancient text, like all texts, does not stand alone - it exists in context" is false, unless you're talking about the context involving us and the text. That's utterly irrelevant.
  • creativesoul
    5.4k
    This is what happens when you make a statement or assertion in this forum, too. The original meaning of your statement exists only in your subjective relationship with what you wrote. You cannot assume that it persists anywhere else, let alone that anyone reading it would understand your meaning as ‘the meaning’ simply because the markings you’ve used to communicate it are regularly in use today. So when they query what you wrote, you can’t just refer back to what you wrote as if ‘the meaning’ is inherent in the markings themselves. You need to give more information about the subjective experience behind what you wrote. You need to offer more context. Otherwise they attribute their own meaning to what you wrote, or dismiss it as nonsense.Possibility

    Meaning does not have a location. To talk of meaning persisting 'anywhere' is wrong minded.

    That said, the above isn't entirely wrong. The additional information spoken of above is sometimes necessary to ensure that the meaning is shared. That we understand one another.

    Linguistic meaning persists through time by virtue of a plurality of people drawing the same correlations between different things, with at least one of those things being language use.
  • Possibility
    209
    In the language of mathematics the meaning does persist through time. If all trace of it was lost it could still be rediscovered, and in this line of thinking propositional logic could still be rediscovered too.I like sushi

    Yes, but would it look the same? Would it be a rediscovery, or something else? And if an ‘ancient artifact’ containing our current mathematical language were to be found thousands of years later, how would we then reconnect the two?

    What would we have to lose to ensure that ‘all trace of it was lost’? What is it that ‘persists’?
  • I like sushi
    1.1k


    I meant “all trace” as in “all WRITTEN trace”. Reality persists.

    And yes, it would look them same - in function at least. If lost and then discovered again it would technically be a “rediscovery” from our hypothetical position. For the “rediscoverers” it would be a “new discovery” obviously.
  • creativesoul
    5.4k
    Another aspect of a single text having starkly different meaning...

    "John, could you close the door on your way out?"

    That question can have very different meaning depending upon the situation in which it is said. We all know this to be true. Intonation alone... We all use English. We all understand English. Despite that much, we could still get the meaning of the question quite wrong if all we have is the written text. It would be a result of not having enough of what it takes to get it right.

    What this shows is that written language use alone isn't enough... It is most certainly necessary.
  • I like sushi
    1.1k


    Still idea what your point is. I can only assume now that you don’t actually have one and your “argument” (whatever/if it is) isn’t apparent to me.
  • S
    10.2k
    ...the original meaning does not persist, it cannot persist because of the nature of meaning.Possibility

    I've reached the conclusion that statements like the above are naive, because they think that they're saying something about nature, rather than, really, something trivial about their own use of language.
  • S
    10.2k
    I argue for my position.creativesoul

    Not really. You just assert a definition and point out a logical consequence.

    Bravo. :clap:
  • creativesoul
    5.4k


    The bit with you began by you using a false dichotomy between history and pre-history. The general point is that an ancient totally unfamiliar text is meaningless if all it's users have perished. As a result, there is no ability to decipher one if that's all that is had. That is the thrust of the OP and the arguments/reasoning in support.

    Have you read my parts in this thread?
  • creativesoul
    5.4k


    That sort of thinking will impede you. Definitions can be wrong. There is a difference between 'just asserting' a definition and arguing for one. Apparently, you do no see the relevance of justificatory strength either, and all that that involves...

    Put down the axe. There are no proper grinding stones around here.
  • creativesoul
    5.4k


    Of course, you are still faced with the meaning of your own words in this thread persisting through time as well... Outright denial doesn't make any sense at all in light of that.
  • I like sushi
    1.1k


    Why are you stating the obvious by saying if we cannot find meaning in something it has no meaning to us? If you’re suggesting that because we cannot find any meaning in something there isn’t any possible meaning that is no more than a mere assumption.

    What “false dichotomy”? You appeared not to know the difference between “history” and “pre-history” so I told you. It is something anyone who knows a reasonable amount anout history and archeology should know. Understand you’re saying something equivalent to the differentiation between “the bronze age” and “the iron age” is a false dichotomy.

    Still waiting for what your “argument” is. Hope is dwindling fast so maybe your time would be better spent replying to the other guys here. I’ll take a back seat.
  • S
    10.2k
    That sort of thinking will impede you. Definitions can be wrong. There is a difference between 'just asserting' a definition and arguing for one. Apparently, you do no see the relevance of justificatory strength either, and all that that involves...

    Put down the axe. There are no proper grinding stones around here.
    creativesoul

    Ah, you've stopped ignoring me, at least for a moment.

    I agree that definitions can be wrong, in a sense. That would be a much more productive direction for the discussion to take than where you began with your opening post, and in what you've done in many subsequent posts, where you merely assume your own definition and point out logical consequences.

    There has been a lot of this:

    The general point is that an ancient totally unfamiliar text is meaningless if all it's users have perished. As a result, there is no ability to decipher one if that's all that is had.creativesoul

    But that doesn't do anything at all.

    I haven't seen any arguments from you about why we should accept your definition in the first place. And without that, then the logical consequences which follow from your definition are trivial.

    Or at least, I haven't seen any good arguments. I do recall you appealing to "meaning is use", but you interpret that poorly, in a way which leads to undesirable logical consequences.

    I've already made points for adopting my definition over yours, but obviously you ignored them, which in my books is tantamount to accepting defeat. So unless you have a response, I win by default. That's how debates work.
  • S
    10.2k
    Why are you stating the obvious by saying if we cannot find meaning in something it has no meaning to us? If you’re suggesting that because we cannot find any meaning in something there isn’t any possible meaning that is no more than a mere assumption.

    What “false dichotomy”? You appeared not to know the difference between “history” and “pre-history” so I told you. It is something anyone who knows a reasonable amount anout history and archeology should know. Understand you’re saying something equivalent to the differentiation between “the bronze age” and “the iron age” is a false dichotomy.

    Still waiting for what your “argument” is. Hope is dwindling fast so maybe your time would be better spent replying to the other guys here. I’ll take a back seat.
    I like sushi

    I agree with your analysis. This has become more about what he is doing wrong than the actual topic about ancient texts. That happens with certain people on this forum. Some people try to do philosophy, but it just ends up effectively being an invitation for other people to analyse their errors in thinking.
  • Possibility
    209
    Of course, you are still faced with the meaning of your own words in this thread persisting through time as well... Outright denial doesn't make any sense at all in light of that.creativesoul

    I’m under no illusion that there is ‘the meaning’ of my words that persists through time. Whenever I interact with the words I wrote, there is meaning in that interaction, and a sense of continuity between that meaning and the ‘original meaning’ when I wrote it, seen as a relationship. When you interact with the same words, there is potentially a different meaning as a different relationship, and I can only approach your meaning by interacting with the way you then express your relationship with the words, within the context of what I understand about the English language, about this thread discussion and what little I understand about you - just as you can better approach the ‘original meaning’ by interacting with the context of the English language, etc and what you understand about me (eg. what else I have written in this thread).

    The words persist through time (also debatable as a digital entity), but meaning is found in each interaction with those words. If you talk about persistence of meaning, then you run into assumptions that this meaning exists as an entity instead of a dynamic relationship. I get that you understand what you mean, but it’s not always coming across as clearly as it appears in your mind. I don’t expect anyone to understand what I’m talking about just because I wrote it down.
  • creativesoul
    5.4k
    The historical is important. Prehistory is the issue because we tend to assume too much without written evidence/varification...I like sushi

    What “false dichotomy”? You appeared not to know the difference between “history” and “pre-history” so I told you. It is something anyone who knows a reasonable amount anout history and archeology should know. Understand you’re saying something equivalent to the differentiation between “the bronze age” and “the iron age” is a false dichotomy.I like sushi

    I knew the difference. I also knew that that difference made no difference. I called it a "false dichotomy" as a result of having no difference that mattered but being put out there as though one were an issue and the other was not. Both history and pre-history are prone to the assumptions that you claimed were a problem with only the one. That is irrelevant. However, I'm open to being shown otherwise.

    I do wonder if I called this by the wrong name. I don't think that false dichotomy fits. False analogy maybe? Red herring, certainly.

    Why are you stating the obvious by saying if we cannot find meaning in something it has no meaning to us?I like sushi

    I didn't say that.

    I have carefully re-read our exchange. I think that I understand what you're saying about my use of "ancient text". You claim that "ancient text" presupposes something lost. This is an irrelevant quibble. I'm open to be shown otherwise. It certainly presupposes that it was meaningful to users of it's language. That is readily granted without prejudice.
  • creativesoul
    5.4k


    I suggest you click on my avatar. Click on comments, and take a bit of your precious time to learn about what you are arguing against. It would very foolish of you to assume I've not already done everything you've said ought be done, and more...

    Help yourself.

    We could always take this to the appropriate place. I mean, if you want a real debate, I'm down.
  • I like sushi
    1.1k


    I’m NOT arguing. How can I when I’ve no idea what you are proposing?

    The gist I’ve read is that someone writes a text (therefore the act has meaning to them). All the people die and the language dies with them. The meaning is lost.

    From here you could argue about the actual existence of “meaning” (by which I assume you mean “stored information”?), but it doesn’t really matter. The information is lost and it would seem impossible to recover - in which case we’d infer some hidden meaning but never be able to know one way or another.

    That’s my best guess as to what you mean. Amend/confirm if you can.
  • creativesoul
    5.4k
    I’m NOT arguing. How can I when I’ve no idea what you are proposing?I like sushi

    Fair enough. Pardon my argumentative posture.

    I'm proposing that any and all texts written in language that is completely and totally devoid of users is utterly meaningless.

    The gist I’ve read is that someone writes a text (therefore the act has meaning to them). All the people die and the language dies with them. The meaning is lost.I like sushi

    That's close enough.


    From here you could argue about the actual existence of “meaning” (by which I assume you mean “stored information”?), but it doesn’t really matter. The information is lost and it would seem impossible to recover - in which case we’d infer some hidden meaning but never be able to know one way or another.

    That’s my best guess as to what you mean. Amend/confirm if you can.

    That's fairly accurate. However, it's the notion of "meaning" that I'm working from that is of utmost importance here.
  • creativesoul
    5.4k
    I’m under no illusion that there is ‘the meaning’ of my words that persists through time. Whenever I interact with the words I wrote, there is meaning in that interaction, and a sense of continuity between that meaning and the ‘original meaning’ when I wrote it, seen as a relationship. When you interact with the same words, there is potentially a different meaning as a different relationship, and I can only approach your meaning by interacting with the way you then express your relationship with the words, within the context of what I understand about the English language, about this thread discussion and what little I understand about you - just as you can better approach the ‘original meaning’ by interacting with the context of the English language, etc and what you understand about me (eg. what else I have written in this thread).Possibility

    I would agree with this in general. What interests me most here is thoroughly unpacking the bit about the interacting with words. It's within what you call interactions with words, perhaps, that I believe there is common ground to be found.

    Have you changed your mind about meaning persisting through time?

    It's quite a nuanced process to grasp, but it does not have any issue at all with accomodating changes in the meaning of the same signs/symbols. The evolution of meaning and meaning persisting through time are not mutually exclusive. It can be and I'm certain that both happen and they do so by virtue of the very same process.


    The words persist through time (also debatable as a digital entity), but meaning is found in each interaction with those words. If you talk about persistence of meaning, then you run into assumptions that this meaning exists as an entity instead of a dynamic relationship. I get that you understand what you mean, but it’s not always coming across as clearly as it appears in your mind. I don’t expect anyone to understand what I’m talking about just because I wrote it down.Possibility

    Fair enough. However, here you point towards the possibility of assuming that meaning exists as an entity as a result(?) of talking about the persistence of meaning through time. In the sentence just prior to that, however, you talked about "meaning is found". To me, that most certainly presupposes that meaning is the sort of thing that can be found. If finding is discovering, and all things discovered exist in their entirety prior to their discovery, then any meaning that is found must already exist in it's entirety, prior to it's discovery.

    Although I do not find it helpful. It seems rather unnecessary. I would not entirely balk at that notion. But again, that is a very nuanced understanding, and on my view there is no meaning to be found unless the correlations have already been drawn, and are still currently being drawn.
  • I like sushi
    1.1k
    I'm proposing that any and all texts written in language that is completely and totally devoid of users is utterly meaningless. — Creativesoul

    No need to “propose”. Just say it. We speak English and understand what that means. If you don’t know what this means I’ll tell you. It means “we cannot find meaning in something we cannot find”. Again, obvious.

    As to the issue of “meaning” you appear to be conflating this with “information”. That is probably what is causing us to talk past each other.

    Meaning is not a concept to be given ostensively. The ostenisive giving is the expression of information which provides a shared objective meaning through language.

    Another thing is a “dead text” can still be recognised as a text. There are certain grammatical rules understood by linguistics that can help us differentiate between a string of random squiggles and an actual language. If we know that some markings are from a language, or a means to communicate/express some thought/idea, then archeological terms it provides information. The intent of the author may be lost for ever, yet the intent can be reasonably assumed or they’d be no markings (of course they could be accidental, but certain marking ae highly unlikely - impossible - to be accidental).

    Maybe you’d be better off expressing to me what you think the connection between information and meaning is?
  • creativesoul
    5.4k
    We had this...

    I’m NOT arguing. How can I when I’ve no idea what you are proposing?
    — I like sushi

    Fair enough. Pardon my argumentative posture.

    I'm proposing that any and all texts written in language that is completely and totally devoid of users is utterly meaningless.
    creativesoul

    Followed by this...

    No need to “propose”. Just say it. We speak English and understand what that means. If you don’t know what this means I’ll tell you. It means “we cannot find meaning in something we cannot find”. Again, obvious.I like sushi

    Red herring. Poisoning the well. Non-sequitur.

    Unacceptable. Discard.


    As to the issue of “meaning” you appear to be conflating this with “information”. That is probably what is causing us to talk past each other.

    I'm all ears. Show me how you understand my position better than I. During this demonstration be sure to use my arguments and show how they only lead to the conclusion that you've arrived at.
  • creativesoul
    5.4k
    ...Maybe you’d be better off expressing to me what you think the connection between information and meaning is?I like sushi

    One is existentially dependent upon the other, but not the other way around.
  • creativesoul
    5.4k
    ...Meaning is not a concept to be given ostensively. The ostenisive giving is the expression of information which provides a shared objective meaning through language.I like sushi

    Information presupposes meaning.


    ...Another thing is a “dead text” can still be recognised as a text. There are certain grammatical rules understood by linguistics that can help us differentiate between a string of random squiggles and an actual language. If we know that some markings are from a language, or a means to communicate/express some thought/idea, then archeological terms it provides information.I like sushi

    Then all of archeology presupposes that they have meaningful information. I'm refuting the very idea.

    All you can infer is that it was a language and it was meaningful to the speakers. If you know what sorts of things can be meaningful and how they become so, then you'd also know that what I'm proposing is true.


    The intent of the author may be lost for ever, yet the intent can be reasonably assumed or they’d be no markings (of course they could be accidental, but certain marking ae highly unlikely - impossible - to be accidental).I like sushi

    Granted. We can most certainly conclude that it was a language used by a community.
  • I like sushi
    1.1k
    You’ve said something obvious. We all agree that we cannot know something we cannot know. We cannot know the meaning of something we cannot know the meaning of. That is not an “argument”.

    If you’re expecting disagreement with the above then you’ll be looking long and hard.

    Meaning is existentially dependent upon information or information is existentially dependent upon meaning? Explain whatever you mean as best you can then I’ll disagree.
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