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  • Some remarks on Wittgenstein's private language argument (PLA)
    Then it is awareness, not awareness of. An unpointed awareness is not an awareness of something.Banno

    For someone who gives great emphasis to language use, you have a strange means of expressing yourself. While I think I happen get what you mean by "an unpointed awareness" I hope you know that linguistic use of the term is fully idiosyncratic. One points one's awareness at things ... no, I'm not understanding that. To me it's worse than a homunculus argument.

    But OK.
  • Some remarks on Wittgenstein's private language argument (PLA)


    The dog does not recognise that the food is tasty; it just eats the food. The judgement that the food tastes good and therefore is worth eating is, as it were, post hoc, and in this case made by us in setting out the actions of the dog. — Banno

    Animals would die quickly according to this reasoning. For an animal to not "hold awareness of" predator (non-food) from prey (food), or of that which is nutritious for it (food) from that which is toxic for it (non-food), would be deleterious to the animal.
    javra

    Forgot to make this explicit. That which is deemed as food will be desirable, and thereby good tasting (as contrasted to pleasantly sounding or the like), when the animal is hungry. It's what animal taste buds are for, right?
  • Some remarks on Wittgenstein's private language argument (PLA)
    On this account, what you have called knowledge by acquaintance might be better termed belief based on ostension, so as to keep it distinct from propositional, justified knowledge.Banno

    Nope. No ostension involved in awareness of that which is directly experienced. Not to oneself and not to others. First awareness of and then, maybe, ostension so as to communicate that which one is directly aware of. This is what I call knowledge by acquaintance of X: direct awareness of X. Its also what a lot of other people call it, including Bertrand Russell. If you're so inclined check out the rest of this Wikipedia entry:

    The distinction in its present form was first proposed by British philosopher Bertrand Russell in his famous 1905 paper, "On Denoting".[2] According to Russell, knowledge by acquaintance is obtained exclusively through experience, and results from a direct causal interaction between a person and an object that the person is perceiving. In accordance with Russell's views on perception, sense-data from that object are the only things that people can ever become acquainted with; they can never truly be acquainted with the physical object itself. A person can also be acquainted with his own sense of self (cogito ergo sum) and his thoughts and ideas. However, other people could not become acquainted with another person's mind, for example. They have no way of directly interacting with it, since a mind is an internal object. They can only perceive that a mind could exist by observing that person's behaviour.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_by_acquaintance#%22On_Denoting%22

    The dog does not recognise that the food is tasty; it just eats the food. The judgement that the food tastes good and therefore is worth eating is, as it were, post hoc, and in this case made by us in setting out the actions of the dog.Banno

    Animals would die quickly according to this reasoning. For an animal to not "hold awareness of" predator (non-food) from prey (food), or of that which is nutritious for it (food) from that which is toxic for it (non-food), would be deleterious to the animal.

    But, thank you for actually replying to what I posted.
  • Some remarks on Wittgenstein's private language argument (PLA)
    Do you find a metaphysical divide between humans and lesser animals? I don't, and, as such, I see no reason to deny generalized innate behaviors, such as that of imprinting, in the human species. No I don't hold definitive proof of it. But such is my view.

    Without. imprinting, how would social relations be different?Joshs

    A complex topic were one were to get into it. I'm not Freudian leaning, no Oedipus or Electra complexes for me (!), but I do hold that we as adults, for example, tend to be attracted to partners that (for heterosexuals) embody the characteristics we saw our parent of the opposite sex hold during our formative years. This, again, due to what I believe to be our imprinting what a relationship ought to be from out parents. And it does explain the data that Freudian BS often makes use of.

    How would social relations be different without imprinting? I imagine we wouldn't hold any subconscious preferences in who we find attractive. These often stubborn and sometimes unhealthy subconscious preferences are far more tedious to adequately explain via the assumption of blank-slate, sense-making creatures. But again, I do hold an absence of metaphysical division between humans and lesser animals, and I think we can agree the latter are not "blank-slates".

    edited for mistypes
  • Some remarks on Wittgenstein's private language argument (PLA)
    Knowing by acquaintance that the cup is red is nothing more than knowing how to make use of the words "cup" and "red" in a sentence.Banno

    You've overlooked what I said. Not very interesting, as you say.
  • Some remarks on Wittgenstein's private language argument (PLA)
    From our innate ability to engage in basic perception (e.g. of a basic behavior) to our innate imprinting on caregivers (e.g. of a complex instinctive behavior), innate activities in humans still play an important part of our behavior as a species. — javra

    Are you arguing that pre-wired innate structures play a central role in the most complex kinds of adult human interactions? Could you give examples of this?
    Joshs

    Examples were give in the statement you quoted. Some of the most complex kinds of adult human interaction are in large part built upon them: perception and infant/child imprinting on caregivers (and the characteristics of such). We don't learn to perceive and we don't learn that we need to become attached to specific caregivers as young children (and, thereby, to their system of values which we tend to grow up with as individual humans).
  • Some remarks on Wittgenstein's private language argument (PLA)
    knowledge by acquaintance — javra

    This is interesting.

    But this is a major theme: knowledge by acquaintance is problematic.

    From the start of PI Wittgenstein examines ostension. He starts with a critique of Augustin's idea that pointing is fundamental to language. Pointing is as much a linguistic act as is asking a question, so it cannot stand as fundamental to language.

    And knowledge by acquaintance is knowledge by ostension.
    Banno

    I can understand that it can be problematic. I think this is primarily because it is a rather vague and thereby ambiguous term. We’re accustomed to abstracting. But the most concrete of knowns are simply that which we are directly aware of. And this devoid of communication, such that at least most of what we are directly aware of is not contingent upon our communicating it to others or to ourselves. I double checked the definition of “know” and “knowledge” to confirm common usage and, as I anticipated, some definitions rely on “to be aware of” or some such.

    So while much of communication is contingent on ostension (communication of emotions via facial expressions as one example that isn’t), our direct awareness of givens is not. Furthermore, that which one is directly aware of is, as a percept, and via common usage of the term, known to oneself. How does one know that the orange juice one drinks tastes sweet to oneself if not via direct awareness, with no ostension required in this. Or, as a more extreme example, how does an animal know whether what they put into their mouths to taste tastes good to them and is thereby worth being eaten?

    This is the form of “knowledge by acquaintance” which I have in mind. And, here, knowledge by acquaintance is not knowledge by ostension.

    That I see a red cup is neither contingent on claims that I might make nor is it a reality I need to place my faith or trust in. It simply is. — javra

    It's based on your use of "Red" "Cup" "I" and "See". It already embeds you in a language community.
    Banno

    I don't fully disagree. Language can and does shape our awareness to an extent. What might a wine connoisseur be devoid of the language that conveys the different subtleties of taste? Without this language, including the understanding of what it conveys, one would be clueless as to what a connoisseur knows. Nevertheless, a lesser animal with color vision can discern a red object from a non-red object too via its sight - without any language community required for this discernment. I don't find that we are so different from lesser animals that we'd be unable to so discern in the absence of our holding a language. After all, pre-linguistic children do. Here, again, both the lesser animal and human would know what is and is not red via acquaintance. So in this chicken and egg issue, I find that knowledge by acquaintance is prior to language, or even communication in general - though sometimes language can, for example, focus our perceptions so that they become more finely tuned.

    So, again, there's disagreement with this:

    But further, if "the cup is red" were to count as knowledge by acquaintance, it must be justified by appeal to our common use of those words.Banno
  • On the possibility of a good life
    Embrace the suck!James Riley

    This may be a wee bit off topic, but I agree. Who in their right mind, male or female, would want to date someone who doesn't?!
  • Some remarks on Wittgenstein's private language argument (PLA)
    There are a lot of capacities that we learn much more effectively in early childhood than in adulthood, such as a foreign accent and perceptual skills. . This would seem to be more a matter of the neural plasticity of a young brain rather than the effect of innate structures.Joshs

    I grant the explanation, but it leaves me, personally, far from convinced. We are by far the most behaviorally plastic species that we know of. Yes. But I don't find this fact to in any way dispel the reality that we too hold genetically innate behaviors. From our innate ability to engage in basic perception (e.g. of a basic behavior) to our innate imprinting on caregivers (e.g. of a complex instinctive behavior), innate activities in humans still play an important part of our behavior as a species. And I can find no reason not to include universal grammar in the list.

    There are also other questions that could be asked, such as an explanation for creole languages:

    The system used by the original speakers is typically an inconsistent mix of vocabulary items, known as a pidgin. As these speakers' children begin to acquire their first language, they use the pidgin input to effectively create their own original language, known as a creole. Unlike pidgins, creoles have native speakers (those with acquisition from early childhood) and make use of a full, systematic grammar.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_grammar#Presence_of_creole_languages

    How does increased neural plasticity in youth in and of itself account for why creole develops from pidgin when pidgin is all that children are exposed to and when pidgin works well enough for the adult original speakers?

    But to sum, I grant your explanation, but I find it very wanting.
  • Some remarks on Wittgenstein's private language argument (PLA)
    If you fail to develop your language skills at an early age, they don't develop correctly. What other explanation is there?Hanover

    Hey, I agree! But being the fallibilist that I am, I asked out of curiosity.
  • Some remarks on Wittgenstein's private language argument (PLA)
    Language formation occurs as the result of a priori rules hard wired into our DNA. I — Hanover

    There are plenty of approaches within psycholinguistics that offer alternatives to this Chomskyesque view of language. Embodied and enactivist models embrace the later Wittgenstein while rejecting innatist and representationalist theoreis of language.
    Joshs

    Haven't read much of these alternative accounts in relation to language. Can these alternative accounts reasonably explain why humans which were not exposed to language in their preadolescent years cannot learn to speak grammatically correct language?
  • Some remarks on Wittgenstein's private language argument (PLA)


    TMK, a belief is primarily understood as either a mental acceptance of a claim as true or, else, faith or trust in the reality of something. Add to this if you're thinking of something different.

    That I see a red cup is neither contingent on claims that I might make nor is it a reality I need to place my faith or trust in. It simply is. That I see a red cup is a datum, a fact, one that remains such irrespective of whether it is a hallucination or not, etc. If doubting whether what is seen is in fact real, then belief is involved. But that what is seen is seen is, again, a brute fact - that I neither express as a claim nor that I place faith or trust in in order for it to so be.

    A belief might then be that the cup has a backside that is also red. Yes. But this does not dispel the datum on which this belief is based.

    Where do we disagree with this?

    Well, I would take issue with "that which we know by acquaintance is not of itself a belief - that in turn needs to be justified," because if we know it, then by definition it's a belief ...Sam26

    This is what I am contesting.
  • Some remarks on Wittgenstein's private language argument (PLA)
    My view is that we justify our beliefs in a variety of ways, including sensory experiences, which directly relates to knowledge by acquaintance. For example, you might ask me after I say the orange juice is sweet, "How do you know the orange juice is sweet?" my justification is, "I tasted it." I think it's clear that we use sensory experience as a justification for many of our beliefs.Sam26

    Right, we can use knowledge by acquaintance to justify our beliefs, but that which we know by acquaintance is not of itself a belief - that in turn needs to be justified. That one sees a pink tree - be it illusory or not - is not a belief at the moment experienced. Hence:

    but justifying the belief that one is in pain seems way out of place. Why?Sam26

    Awareness of being in pain is not of itself a belief. Its a datum, for lack of better words.

    Haven't read the entire thread, so excuse me if I've overlooked where the case was made for the contrary, if it was.
  • Some remarks on Wittgenstein's private language argument (PLA)
    I think Wittgenstein's point is that having a pain (or other sensation) is not something that one can come to know or to learn of, and so it does not constitute knowledge. In order for it to be (learned) knowledge, one would need to be able to guess or speculate whether one was in pain and then be able to confirm or disconfirm it. If it makes no sense to doubt whether you are having pain (when you are having pain), then it makes no sense to be certain of it, either. — Luke

    Agreed, and this is the whole point of this thread.
    Sam26

    There is such a thing as knowledge by acquaintance: knowledge of what one is familiar with strictly via direct experience. Others can doubt your knowledge by acquaintance (you could be fibbing). You can, with some extensive effort, come to doubt that your knowledge by acquaintance is not illusory (is it a hallucination?). But one can never doubt that one is acquainted with that which one is acquainted with (that I see a pink tree might be a trick of the mind but the pink tree momentarily seen is seen by me all the same, and I know what it looks like: pink, for starters; in this example, one knows of the pink tree strictly by acquaintance).

    Just as it makes sense to say when someone else doubts, “I know what I saw”, so too can it make sense in some such cases to affirm, “I know I’m in pain”. For instance, “I get you want to move the sofa, but are you forgetting that your sciatic nerves went out and that you’ve been in a lot of pain,” retorted with, “I know I’m in pain, but I’m going to move the sofa anyway.”

    And this knowledge of “being in pain” isn’t JTB or some variant but, instead, one’s direct awareness of oneself being in pain; hence, a variant of knowledge by acquaintance.
  • You are not your body!
    Fair enough. :wink:
  • You are not your body!
    I’m pretty sure that most Buddhists don’t claim to be their bodies.praxis

    Such an astute observation … like point out that water is not dry. And what does this have to do with what I've written?

    But for the record, nor have I yet encountered any Buddhist who claims that they are inexistent. If you’ve come across any such in your readings, please point them out to me.
  • You are not your body!
    The butterfly tattoe on my left arm is a pretty unchanging essence.Thunderballs

    Unless the tattoo is brand new, it has faded a bit over time, hasn't it? Hence, it has changed. You may be referring to the tattoos overall form, but given sufficient time that too will change.
  • You are not your body!
    and its doctrine of no-self.praxis

    A convoluted topic. There is good reason to affirm that anatta does not deny the self, at the very least in early Buddhism. But, maybe more importantly, anatta signifies an absence of unchanging essence in any phenomena … much including bodies. Hence, to the same degree one were to interpret anatta to signify absence of selves, one would likewise need to affirm an absence of bodies, this so as to be consistent. Thereby implying the Eastern notion of emptiness. As in "form is emptiness".

    To affirm “you are your body” can thereby be as contrary to anatta as something like “you are your soul”. As to bodies not having an unchanging essence, neither do selves (or even souls) require an existentially unchanging essence in order to be.
  • Is love real or is it just infatuation and the desire to settle down
    I get you but don't know what a BIV-scenario is. Sounds kinda naughty...Thunderballs

    :lol: Ay, that it is.

    If I'm to take you seriously, BIV is short for "brain in a vat" hypothesis. Hence the naughtiness factor.
  • Is love real or is it just infatuation and the desire to settle down
    Love is as real as the dick in my pants.Thunderballs

    I think one can stipulate that love is even more real than genitalia. Haven’t fully thought this through yet, but, as an example, in a BIV scenario the reality of one’s dick would be illusory whereas the reality of one’s love would remain unscathed. Would take some unpacking but an, “I think love, therefore I am” kind of thing. (From some degree of self-love that keeps us kicking, to love of truth or of reality that gets us to question things in the first place, etc., if not love for another.) Cheeky, but I think it might work.
  • Is love real or is it just infatuation and the desire to settle down


    Getting racy around these parts. :blush:

    Real love of the amorous kind. To trade notes, I liken it to a dance driven by a common ethos between two selves which make a well enough fit in both their techne and pathos. And, barring grave mishaps that can ruin the dance along the way, these two find increased convergence into one via the inter-path/course they partake in. All this conditional on both being there for each other when it counts. Or something along these lines.

    Still curious to hear @Benj96's take on what real love would consist of.
  • Is love real or is it just infatuation and the desire to settle down
    Evolution has no need for love. Well no need for love between partners at least, maybe maternal and paternal love towards offspring yes, but as for partners all that is called for is sexual attraction/ lust.Benj96

    When it comes to the heuristics of biological evolution there are in large two strategies that apply to most species consisting of sexes. When viewed from the vantage of males, colloquially expressed, one heuristic is to fuck anything that moves without giving a shit about the offspring. Some, even most, will die and some will live, but the greater the quantity of offspring the greater the number of offspring that survive and the greater one’s acquired biological fitness. The other is to invest in the welfare of one’s offspring so as to maximize the survival of all, thereby increasing one’s biological fitness. Here, one as male cares about what female one mates with, this so as to produce optimal offspring. And this caring about the other which one also finds attractive correlates with what we often identify as the emotion of romantic love.

    Lust/sexual attraction applies to both types of males, just differently.

    Needless to add, this is an (over?)simplification. And it does ignore what type of male females choose and the whys to these choices in terms of female biological fitness. But it generally holds for humans. So called players almost always fall into the characteristics of the first heuristic; whereas those who lose an important part of themselves with the loss of their partner tend to fall into the characteristics of the second. Most humans, of course, are a mix between these two biological extremes.

    As was expressed by @Hermeticus, many wild animals have evolved toward the second heuristic; this, naturally, hence without there being “social constraints or contracts” in need of upholding. Wild canids all tend toward monogamy, often life long, in the form of Alpha Mates of equal value around which extended families or packs pivot. Geese are another notable, commonly known example. At any rate, there is a place in biological evolution for romantic love: again simplistically expressed, it on average results in quality of offspring - rather than quantity with lesser quality.

    That aside, here taking my cue from the title, what does the phrase “real love” signify to you?
  • Are there things we can’t describe with the English language?
    I get what you're saying, but unless one assumes that all life is endowed with language, then language appeared at some point in time after life appeared. — javra

    I think that such a starting point should only be seen provisionally, and as an artificial imposition on what is otherwise a dynamic flux.
    baker

    First off, I am sympathetic to your views. In entering into the realms of primacy, which is a metaphysical issue, I do hold a non-materialist slant on things. So this colors my world view. And the topic is not something worthy of this thread's theme. But to address the issue of language having had a beginning:

    Language. Are we by this term intending “words and their grammatical use” or “communication of meaning”? Certainly all animals use “body language” to communicate meaning, often enough, this between species. A solitary cat will raise its hairs and spit; a solitary rattlesnake with rattle its tail; etc. All this done to communicate its private intentions of action that are not yet action - and thereby intimidate - and, often enough, this again to animals of other species which, more often than not, understand (or "get") what is being communicated. Arguably, to communicate is to make common that which is otherwise not. It can be intended and thereby voluntary or involuntary (such as how sweat can unintentionally communicate one’s fear).

    Did Neanderthals speak with words. TMK, we don’t know. Nevertheless they exhibit being endowed with a great deal of complex meaning in their placing of flowers into the graves of their dead - from the meaning of flowers, to that of graves, to that of a potential spirituality. Though we don’t know whether they had words, we can only sanely infer that they communicated complex enough meaning to each other.

    Once we get into interpreting language as “communication of meaning” and further into plain “communication” we can further abstract language to be the imparting of information from one form to another via any type of interaction. And then we can get into propositions such as, “the hammer communicates its force to the stone which it hits”. And so would crystals, prions, bacteria, and so forth.

    Now, again, I’m sympathetic to the gradualism of evolution when looked at from afar. But when evolution is looked at up close, it holds mutations that result in punctuated evolution, if not punctuated equilibrium then punctuated gradualism. Unless the rate of successful mutations is constant, punctuated evolution necessarily unfolds. Just as there logically was a mitochondrial Eve from which Homo Sapiens as we know it resulted, so too I logically find the necessary occurrence of a mutation-driven punctuation in the evolution of communication that gave birth to the grammatically correct languages which we now know of.

    So, due to this line of reasoning, I do maintain that there was a start to language in the sense of "words and their grammatical use" - a beginning that is ontic rather an artificial imposition on what otherwise is.

    As to agency, I’m of the view that it is intrinsic to life, all life, differing only in magnitudes and the quality that ensues from such different degrees. In the history of biological evolution, mutations (and the novel genetic instincts that mutations can bring about, which can affect not just body but cognition) do not subvert agency in my view, but merely facilitate its degrees of presence. Hence, in simplistic manner and imo: a mutation brought about the cognitive degree of agency (this alongside the needed biological workings of the body that may have already been sufficiently present) required to create, aka invent, words. But as I first commented, this issue of agency working in tandem with biology is a very different topic than that of the thread. And I have little to no interest in debating it for the time being. Merely wanted to give my perspective.

    Besides, rare as they might be, novums - new features - perpetually occur, thereby the evolution of any living language, and how are novums not invented? - javra

    But most things that seem new are actually made of old, already existing things.
    baker

    Here I find an equivocation between that addressed and its constituents. Genotypically, a mutation is "actually made of old, already existing things" but the phenotype the mutation brings about is utterly novel. So too do I find with the novums of language. For example, the letters of novel words will be old stuff, but the new words and what they gradually come to convey to a populous will be utterly novel. As one concrete example of this, there is "meme" (coined in 1976, and today a common aspect of the English language). A good example of a recently invented word.

    Additionally, I notice you say "most". What do you make of the exceptions?
  • In the Beginning.....
    You know, there is something about this kind of thinking that I find compelling, though not quite as you put it. You and I are, after all, the world, and the logos as any of its expressions is what the world is doing through us, so the ascription of the logos to the world, as what the world is and does, is not an improper anthropomorphism of sorts, as many would claim. I grant, it is hard to make this intuitive connection, because we are all so used to thinking of the world as, as you say, boundaried, we forget that there is some foundational genesis of all that is (See Eugene Fink's Sixth Meditation, e.g.; though here, it is a differently conceived). "Cosmic reasoning" may be pushing it, for I don't think the world of other things, trees, tables and desktops, is apart from language, rationally constructed, and that there is an "ordering" or "choosing" going on in the underpinnings of the world. WE are, however, what the world does and is and cannot be separated, so there certainly is a "becoming" in the world through us, these agencies of rationality and meaning; the world is becoming (but here we run into postmodern concerns I will not bring in)Constance

    I think I may be able to boil this down to a single question: Are what we linguistically call “the basic laws of thought”, thinking here primarily of the law of identity and of noncontradiction, existentially fixed and, hence, universally applicable? Or, are they simply the byproduct of biologically enactive cognition, such that they do not govern reality at large but merely serve as an evolved instrument relative to (some?) life via which we interpret those aspects of reality we can filter through these principles of cognition?

    If existentially fixed, then, imo, cosmic reasoning.

    Dogs experience the world, and in this there is an "innocence" that we should envy, but our intelligence is something we (and hence the world) are doing that is qualitatively unique, something new that our evolving condition manifests. What Sparky cannot do is think explicitly, and cannot separate language from immediate affairs, can't wander off into a corner and wonder. Wonder takes thought to new boundaries as it brings in questions of existence and experience that have no answers, but around such questions there develops a culture inquiry.Constance

    Yes, I agree.
  • Are there things we can’t describe with the English language?


    Thank you for addressing the example I gave. Since you claim it to be plausible, you didn’t give me much to argue against, for I too find it quite plausible.

    BTW, do you by “homunculus” simply intend a euphemism for “consciousness”? The little person within the total person that itself has a littler person within, and so on ad infinitum, is not something I can fathom anyone believing in.

    At the moment, don’t have much interest in arguing one way or another about the reality of consciousnesses. But I thought I’d ask, since I am curious.
  • Are there things we can’t describe with the English language?
    Should someone let the lofty one know? I think it even more interesting were s/he to discover it for themselves.
  • Are there things we can’t describe with the English language?
    Religion will do that to you.Noble Dust

    Yea, true, but only when it consists of following infallible folk. At any rate, doubt that Wittgenstein took himself to be such, though I can't say as much about some of his adorers.

    Maybe if I can find a fuck to give, I'll reply to you.Banno

    Cute. Especially seeing how you put in the effort to reply. :lol:
  • Are there things we can’t describe with the English language?
    No worries, but to evade the circularity that could manifest in arguments, I did give two examples regarding the meaning of color that could be addressed by anyone if they were inclined to engage in an honest discussion regarding what I posted. A wink to @Banno.
  • Are there things we can’t describe with the English language?
    In case it's pertinent, I browsed through the thread and read it. Your discussion with Cheshire centers on what color the term of a color references: the meaning of a term. Whereas what I'm addressing is what colors themselves symbolize and thereby mean: the meaning of a color.
  • Are there things we can’t describe with the English language?
    OK, not fully, just the latter parts regarding French grey. Should I have? But I'm still interested to hear about how you reply to the two examples I gave regarding color's meaning.
  • In the Beginning.....
    Metavalue and metaethics - the Good - refers to the possibility of an ideal relational structure (ie. logic) to this interweaving of energy and quality (in relation to an embodied rationality).Possibility

    How so?

    If logic is not front and centre, then it’s the system you embody in order to describe what is.Possibility

    This I duly agree with.
  • Are there things we can’t describe with the English language?
    Nuh.

    Have a read of Philosophical Investigations. Especially the first forty or so paragraphs.
    Banno

    No, and I'm so far not inclined to. Have you read the two examples of color's meaning which I just posted?
  • Are there things we can’t describe with the English language?
    Well ... a per my initial post to you, in equating meaning to what an agent intends by a symbol, this being (intra-)subjective, I then also find that communication is inter-subjective, consisting of an accord between different subjects in what they individually intend by symbols.

    In short, a language does not strictly exist in my head, no. Yet meaning - or, what is intended via symbols - does.

    As one example, the pain or pleasure I might at one moment associate with a given color due to my own idiosyncratic experiences - with this color momentarily leading my thoughts to a certain outcome of affect and, in so governing my thoughts' intentionality, granting this color a momentary meaning to me - will be a fully private occurrence. That the color orange momentarily means putrid to me on grounds that it vividly reminds me of an orange I one ate that was spoiled will be a meaning of the color orange that is fully private to me.

    Its just that when it comes to language, there is a conformity between a) what an individual intends via a symbol and b) the commonly agreed upon understanding of what is to be intended via a symbol which pertains to the cohort (a) is a part of. This general conformity - whose limits can on occasion be tested - is necessary for communication.

    So for example, that the color red means passion or love when on a rose or a heart will be an intersubjective meaning relative to those who understand red to so symbolize in the given contexts - a meaning that resides in the head of each individual and which is commonly agreed upon.
  • Are there things we can’t describe with the English language?
    If someone else has a different "intended meaning of tree", does that prevent communication? Usually not. Meanign is not a thing in your head.Banno

    Usually, but not necessarily. Suppose someone intends the generalized idea of cat by the use of "tree". We'd likely call them other than perfectly sane, but that's beside the point of what constitutes meaning.

    At any rate, is intention not something in your head?
  • Are there things we can’t describe with the English language?
    No, that's not at all what "meaning is use" is. Quiet the contrary, the meaning is found in the place of the words used in the language game being played. Meaning is essentially social.

    Contrast "The meaning of the word is whatever I say it is" with "The meaning of the word is the part it plays in the language game being played".
    Banno

    Can there be use devoid of intention?

    I find that to mean X is to intend X. The meaning of "tree" I cognize at any given time is what I intend via the use of the symbol - hypothetically ranging from aspects of divinity like the tree of knowledge of or life to fully profane generalized ideas like the biological workings of a lifeform (no, I'm not Abrahamic). What another might mean - intend - by "tree" is relative to what they as other individual agency intends. There then is intersubjective, or shared, intention. The atheist and the spiritualist will both minimally intend by the symbol "tree" the generalized idea of something endowed with roots, a trunk, and branches. But this shared, hence social, intention is yet constituted of individuals' intentions ... a plurality of intentions that find accord.
  • Are there things we can’t describe with the English language?
    Unless you subscribe to a kind of biblical "and then God gave man language", you're always looking at matters of language as someone who is birthed into and thereby embedded within, at the very least, one language.

    I assume that just like there is unbroken evolutionary continuity that spans through time to our present state, from our ancestors who lived in the sea to ape like creatures to H. sapiens, so there is unbroken evolutionary continuity of language, where at each t + 1 we use what was already there at t and make other things out of it (but which cannot rightfully be called "new"). It's not recycling, but it's also not invention.

    I don't see how the "which came first" question can be asked meaningfully.
    baker

    I get what you're saying, but unless one assumes that all life is endowed with language, then language appeared at some point in time after life appeared. (One could even extend this form of reasoning prior to life: if bacteria have language, do self-replicating protein molecules like prions have language, how about crystals, rocks, atoms, and so on.) In this line of reasoning, language appeared out of non-language at some point in time.

    Besides, rare as they might be, novums - new features - perpetually occur, thereby the evolution of any living language, and how are novums not invented?
  • Are there things we can’t describe with the English language?
    You're looking at things from the perspective of one who is birthed into and thereby embedded within, at the very least, one language, and from this vantage I of course agree with you. I looked at the "which came first" question a bit more literally in the ontological sense. And I understand if we disagree on that.