Comments

  • Problem with the view that language is use
    but rather concepts is something the we shape and create, and they cannot be forced on us from 'outside' (whether by experience or innate nature), because otherwise they would cease to be concepts in the logical sense and will be nothing more then behavioral instincts.Fafner

    So it's a sociological explanation of meaning.
  • Problem with the view that language is use
    Is it conceivable that someone could be born (as a result of a mutation or whatever) with the WRONG sorts of concepts? Do we have a method to check this?Fafner

    Evolution would weed out concepts too out of sync with the environment. But it's probably more of an ability to form and build upon fundamental concepts, such as space, time, other minds, etc, which allows for a great deal of flexibility.
  • Problem with the view that language is use
    Of course the concept of 'length' is something the we have created. It really doesn't make sense to 'perceive' a length in an object as an empirical discovery, and for a simple reason: you must already have the concept of length in order to perceive something as having a length, otherwise how could you know that what you are perceiving is 'length' and not some other property?Fafner

    I would argues this is innate, not something language communities create. Some ability for making sense of perception must exist for language to employ concepts. And meaning would in part be built out of that.

    That's why I reference Kant earlier, and how he showed that certain categories of thought were necessary to make sense out of the noise of sense impressions. Empiricism can't get going without that.
  • Problem with the view that language is use
    For comparison, I think the war over the Whorf-Sapir hypothesis and color words is still raging. See this wikipedia article. The nutshell would be something like this: many languages do not have separate words for what we call "blue" and "green" (just as an example); can native speakers of those languages distinguish blue from green? Common sense says so, and I tend to agree, but the research goes on.Srap Tasmaner

    Well, to make things more complicated, the use of language probably shapes the brain of those language speakers.

    So if Whorf-Sapir is correct, then telling blue from green would be an ability developed by having words that pick out the difference. There was a Radio Lab episode on color making that very argument, and then one on Shakespear coining new terms as an example of one Researcher's claims that language connects different parts of the brain.

    I guess that's a point in favor of language is use, but with a neural underpinning.
  • Problem with the view that language is use
    Of course it has a physical length, but this claim has to be distinguished from saying what exactly its length is in some unites of measurement.Fafner

    Right. So tying it back into what I've been trying to argue, the concept of length is not something created as part of a language game. It's something we cognate (perceive?) about objects. How we make use of length to measure things is part of language games.
  • Problem with the view that language is use
    Put it this way. The stick has a property of being extended in space by so much, such that when we settle on a standard of measurement, it will be so many units in that measurement system.

    The spatial extension of the stick (along a certain dimension) determines its length. How we measure it is a separate matter.
  • Problem with the view that language is use
    ↪Marchesk You have to keep in mind we're taking about a time when 1 meter was defined as the length of this stick.Srap Tasmaner

    I get that 1 meter is assigned to the length of a particular stick to create a standard. I disagree that the standard stick has no length. It has a physical length. It's extended in space.
  • Problem with the view that language is use
    he can't say, it's 1 meter by definition, which he can't because he says it has no length.Srap Tasmaner

    But it's simply not true that the 1 meter stick has no length. It most certainly has a physical length, and can be measured by all sorts of means, including non-arbitrary ones found in nature.

    That we decided it was a unit of 1 meter is arbitrary. That it is a definite length (so many hydrogen atoms or Plank lengths) is not arbitrary at all.
  • Problem with the view that language is use
    I have not read Carnap. Summary of his view on this topic?
  • Problem with the view that language is use
    My understanding is that Witt noticed that rule-following can't account for the entirety of communication because there has to be some source of normativity outside the system of rules. He looked to human interaction to find that source. You're saying we should look inward to find it.Mongrel

    Both, of course. Human interaction accounts for how we assign meaning. Cognition accounts for how we have concepts at all, and why human language differs from animal signalling.

    Well, it's more complicated than that, because human interaction can result in combining concepts and coming up with new metaphors and relations and what not. So yeah, he's right about that.

    But the reason humans can do that is cognitive, not behavioral or social. And for humans to do that, there has to be a conceptual apparatus. So along the lines of what Chomsky argued.
  • Problem with the view that language is use
    We make the stick a standard by comparing stuff to it. See? He's talking about meaning and existence simultaneously.Mongrel

    Good point. But the meaning of length itself does not come from using an arbitrary standard, like a stick, or someone's foot. Length is innate to us, like time and space. We don't create the meaning for those things.

    My argument is that meaning and language games are built up from fundamental categories of thought that have to exist, or there is no language. Sure, a stick acquires the meaning of standard length by it's use, but length itself does not.

    Therefore, meaning can't ONLY be use.
  • Problem with the view that language is use
    Can't you measure the standard meter by other means? Say the time it takes light to traverse that distance, and then compare that to the time it takes light to go other distances? The speed of light isn't something we made up, so it could serve as an absolute standard, like atomic clocks can be an absolute standard of measuring time.
  • Problem with the view that language is use
    Here, though, you're surely at a crux where Fafner is right: you are conjuring up an imaginary Wittgenstein in order to make a point of your own. 'Philosophical Investigations' is a complex book and nowhere in it do I remember these 'arguments' that you mention. One thing I'm confident he's saying is that it's difficult to have a clear overview of language, since we only have language to do it with. What you are calling 'meaning' will involve comparing one word with another, or with a group of other words, and asserting that some greater clarity results.mcdoodle

    This is very strange, because you have other posters in this thread, and other threads, like unenlightened, Michael and Banno arguing along the lines that Witty did in fact mean that. Now possibly I have misunderstood their arguments. But it comes up regularly.
  • Problem with the view that language is use
    The conveyance of thought is its primary use and its communicative use is secondaryCavacava

    Agreed. Good point about talking to ourselves. Language is use is something defended by the Wittgenstein followers, although the interpretation may depend on the poster in question. I take it to mean behavior, given the talk of beatles in boxes and the impossibility of private language.
  • Problem with the view that language is use
    Not once in our exchange have you even used the word behaviour,StreetlightX

    So you weren't ready the rest of the thread? I mentioned behavior many times. Did you miss all the posts on Witty by me and others?
  • Problem with the view that language is use
    OK, and what does that have to do with meaning-as-use?StreetlightX

    Meaning as use has it's root in behavior, not cognitive science. I thought I made that clear?

    Now if all Witty was arguing is that we assign meaning by how we use words in certain contexts, then no problem. But if he's saying that meaning IS behavior, then that's a problem.
  • Problem with the view that language is use
    hat is it about (1) meaning-as-use on the one hand, and (2) abstract language features on the other, that makes the two incompatible? This is what I'm trying to get you to articulate.StreetlightX

    I'm thinking of meaning along the lines of how Gerge Lakhoff and Mark Johnson describe metaphors as understanding one conceptual domain in terms of another (cross domain mapping), where the domains are based on neural mapping in the brain, wired up to how our perception and motor functions work.

    So for example we talk about how we "grasp" new ideas, using our ability to grab objects as a helper for understanding learning a new idea.
  • Problem with the view that language is use
    What does it mean to understand each of these? What do we expect if something is to be called "understanding"?Srap Tasmaner

    That another dog walked across Lassie's grave, and if I don't go left, I'll be possessed by the spirit of the Zodiac Killer.

    Unfortunately, since neither Lassie nor my cloned Neanderthal friend (DNA found mixed in with a frozen mammoth carcass a few months back, angering the ancestral spirits) can communicate that to me, I go right and then the rest is ScyFy B grade movie.

    The above, although worthy of a crappy movie plot, illustrates how our language can be filled with all sorts of ideas probably missing from animal communication.
  • Problem with the view that language is use
    hat interested Wittgenstein were the logical features of language that make it function as a language, not the psychological conditions which allow some creature but not another to learn language - that has nothing to do with philosophy according to W'.Fafner

    Wittgenstein said that if a lion could talk, we would not understand it, because we don't participate in the lion language games. As such, there's no meaning that we could translate from our human games to the lion games in order to arrive at a common understanding.

    I think that's mistaken. The real meaning is based on how a lion understands the world by virtue of being a lion. To the extent that's similar to being a human, we should be able to arrive at some common meaning, and therefore be able to translate between human and lion language.

    I'm only using animal communication as a means to critique the notion that meaning is only exclusively it's use. I don't see the difference between a bird using song to woo a mate, and human using words to seduce a mate, if use is all there is to meaning.

    And yet, we do acknowledge some pretty important differences between bird song (far as we understand birds), and human language. Some of those involve the use of abstract concepts, which are pretty important. A human male seducing a female might employ the concept of earning potential to interest her. Earning potential is not something animals communicate, because money isn't a concept they form.
  • Problem with the view that language is use
    gain, the point here is not that we have to look into the realm of psychology (as opposed to behavior) to understand language, rather I think that both Kant and Wittgenstein argued that you have to look at logic or norms, that is how we use the logical/normative system of language in our dealing with the world (or experience in Kant's case).Fafner

    But how does this explain the difference between animal communication and human?