Alternatively, are "absolutely" or "perfectly" generalized questions askable? Note that vs. the use-mention distinction, we can refer to questions that can be mentioned but never asked, so to say, which is the issue, then, here.

So considering the relationship between indexicals and variables and the role of variables in schematics, and then insofar as wh-terms are akin to/an example of variables, too, I was thinking that some questions can be construed as more generalized than others. However, if this generalization follows something like the following template (illustrated by example; you'll have to abstract the template itself "on your own recognizance"):

  1. 15/5 + 200 = x {x | x4 = 4x} + 21/(3.5 + 3.5)
  2. 3 + 2 = 2 + 3
  3. A + B = B + A
  4. x = X

So that (4) is the most generalized, though (3) also features variables/schematism. Accordingly, I would think that questions like, "Who goes there?" or, "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" are somewhere between (2) and (3), and that abstracting fully to (3) from those samples means focusing on the wh-terms, sketching a template for their general use.

However, then, can you abstract over wh-terms broadly, to form a sort of absolutely generic wh-term? As if you took "what" and "why" and "[w]how" and so on, and just had "wh__" in their stead. But how would you "ask" the question, "Wh__?" just like that? It seems to me as if this wouldn't work: you can surely mention the totally abstract wh-template, but by its nature, it is a term that cannot actually be used so as to actually ask a question.

The upshot: does this mean that talk of complete generalizations like "the Form of Forms" (not necessarily by Plato's lights on this score, to be fair/sure) does not go through, either? I.e., then, that it is useless(!) to look for some sort of ultimately generalized truth? That the search for generality (e.g. in ethics) can be quite misplaced?

  • You oscillate between meaningless "complete" generalizations and broad vague ones that are by no means "complete". Due to the equivocation, observations on the former have little bearing on the latter. The form of forms and even more so generality in ethics still carry semantic constraints which make questions sensible, if tenuous, and which "completeness" must abolish. The sort of generality people look for in ethics is available in mathematics and physics. Its assimilation to them is likely wrong headed, but your path to that conclusion "proves" much too much.
    – Conifold
    Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 12:36
  • This is probably a different direction, but I imagine some maximally pluralistic or “explosively” (like principle of explosion: everything) pluralistic metaphysics and yet the most general question/abstract questions would be “which world am I in?”, “which logic do I use?” Maybe I have implicit doubts abstraction can go on forever. (Maybe I’m out of my depth). Just some thoughts
    – J Kusin
    Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 13:49
  • 2
    Most theories over countable languages are not even ω-categorical except some complete theories with oligomorphic automorphism group such as DLO without endpoints proved by Cantor's back-and-forth method in a Ehrenfeucht–Fraïssé like game, thus there's always possibly some model truth beyond to reply some erotetic and per Tarski's hierarchy the completely generalized question (if exists) to be answered is necessarily both immanent and transcendent, revealed and hidden, which lies outside any object field such as mathematics and physics but in the metas revealed philosophically as ethics... Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 23:10
  • 2
    Take your example 4 of quantifier eliminable 1st order theory over the mundane countable language with only equality relation and without functions or constants (aka pure identity theory), one can further ask is it ω-categorical (only 1 infinite countable model up to isomorphism) or uncountably k-categorical? Łoś also further conjectured does κ-categoricity at any uncountable cardinal imply κ-categoricity at all uncountable cardinals? Morley gave a famous positive result and was subsequently extended by Shelah in the 70s to stability and classification theory in meta-math model theory... Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 0:59


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