Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Expressions And Meanings - Part 1: Introduction

In this series, I will ponder on case-scenario suggested by a fellow blogger:
Suppose young Timmy mistakenly takes 'prime number' to be roughly synonymous with 'cool number'. So he goes around saying things like '666 is a prime number'. Does he believe that 666 is a prime number? Presumably not. He certainly doesn't have a de dicto belief involving the concept prime number, since he lacks this concept (he associates the words, 'prime number', with a different concept entirely). Nor does he have any de re beliefs about primes, i.e. beliefs which talk about this property under a different guise: he does not believe, for example, that 666 is divisible only by itself and 1. What Timmy believes is that 666 is a cool number (or, more likely yet, that '666' is a cool numeral), and he mistakenly takes the sentence '666 is a prime number' to express this belief. (source)

As we can see an utterance (an expression) has a meaning behind it. Usually, meanings are the goal and expressions are merely means to achieve that goal. Thats why, it is important that when we hear an expression, we analyze it and start digging for the meaning behind that expression.

The problem is, as humans we are incapable of communicating meanings, we are only capable of communicating expressions. This realization leads to The Problem of Representation (aka representational skepticism) that I have discussed before.

Lingual skepticism and other forms of skepticism like brains in a vat skepticism, and The Matrix skepticism are closely related. They all go around the limitations of empiricism, and the limitations of our senses to grasp reality.

In this series:
Expressions And Meanings - Part 1: Introduction
Expressions And Meanings - Part 2: Elaboration
Expressions And Meanings - Part 3: Linguistic Relativism
Expressions And Meanings - Part 4: Conclusion


david santos said...

Thanks for your posting and have a good week.

The Observer said...

You are right, the meaning is what matters and it is not easy to express it and insure that other party get it as you meant it.

No_Angel said...

2 is a complex number...

The problem is, as humans we are incapable of communicating meanings, we are only capable of communicating expressions.

not at all, while that is a problem of first contact it isn't a problem when dealing with norms. once you establish a norm it becomes a euphemism to the meaning.

that behavior is evident by the rise of euphemism
integration of foreign terms within a language
protocoled gestures

all those are evidence that once a norm is settled certain actions and expressions. so unless you are discussing it from an ontological point of view .... which you didn't elaborate it you can't make that blanket statement since from a phenomenal point of view it holds relativistic meaning.

Devil's Mind said...

I am glad that you, No_Angel have been able to relate this post to our previous discussion, because they are highly related...

I am going to answer your concerns in the next parts of this series.... And when we get to part 5 [the conclusion], you might understand why I said what I said before.

For now, I want to tell you that what you were SAYING is wrong... In the same sense that Timmy saying "666 is a prime number" is wrong!

I am not here to judge what is inside your head... But what you wrote is wrong, its wrong by the conventional standards and meanings assigned to the words you wrote...

Remember my (semi-humorous) comment: "Maybe contradiction in your language means homosexuality, and when you deny the "law of non-contradiction", you are denying the law that prohibits homosexuality... If thats the case... I drop mine!"

Here, you have 3 reasonable options:
1- Learn what a contradiction means, so that you understand why your expression is wrong.

2- Learn the correct word for the concept you have in mind, so that you can express your thoughts in an understandable manner

3- Define what you mean by a contradiction, so that we can understand what you are talking about.

I have tried to show you the meaning of a contradiction, and I tried to help you express your thoughts in a coherent and logical manner, but you refused my help.

Its not only not easy, the truth is that's impossible to insure.

Thank you for visiting!

No_Angel said...

lol i like how you just stated that its wrong without saying why it is so ... or are you still hung up because u couldn't find an experiment that proves light is both a particle and a wave at the same time which is where we left things off...

either way, i have a clear idea where you are trying to head with this argument. and its a bit absurd in my view. ergo, i only limited my comment to what is relevant here to ur post. either way, so you still believe in absolute truths eh ? oh the irony

Devil's Mind said...

Dude, give up childish play! I already provided my proof, several times, not once... And you have not given a single answer that is reasonable... You just talk nonsense! Grow up! I explained to you your mistakes numerous times, but instead of trying to understand your mistakes, you try to attack me... Again: Grow up!