Questions tagged [philosophy-of-language]

for philosophical questions concerning the nature, origins, and usage of natural language

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7
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2answers
438 views

What is an “unarticulated background”?

Does a sentence only mean something because it draws on knowledge outside of itself? Take 2 + 2 = 4: is it a tautology? No: it depends on a conception of '+', which is not located within that sentence/...
6
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1answer
295 views

Did Wittgenstein consider the possibility of a private language with public content?

Wittgenstein criticized the idea that there could be a meaningful language that was only known in principle by one person. His insights have often been used to disregard the idea of private mental ...
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7answers
5k views

Why is the Münchhausen trilemma an unsolved problem?

Why is the Münchhausen trilemma unsolved? Couldn't anybody find some reasons for proving/disproving it? Or are there other reasons for it being called "unsolved"? the trilemma If we ask of any ...
5
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1answer
348 views

What is the relation between 'knowledge-that' and 'knowledge-how'?

Quick bit of definitions for the words: Knowledge-that is knowledge that answers a question about a thing. It is informative of a thing's nature or kind. Knowledge-how is knowledge that is expressed ...
7
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2answers
819 views

What is the relation between the material conditional in logic and conditionals that we use every day?

The material conditional has a truth-value of T in every case except where the antecedent proposition is true and the consequent is false. However, this means that many conditionals are true (if only ...
7
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3answers
477 views

What philosopher said that knowledge is about discerning differences?

I have heard that knowledge is discerning differences or to that effect. For example, if all things are the same such that there is no differentiating qualities, we can't really speak of anything ...
8
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0answers
286 views

Are humans becoming more hive-like? Does this have philosophical implications?

Have any philosophers taken up human hive-like behaviour and its implications? EO Wilson and others have outlined eusociality, a mode of group selection acting in addition to selection at the ...
8
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1answer
443 views

What is the role of sensations in Wittgenstein's private language argument?

In Philosophical Investigations 244-254, before talking about private signs, Wittgenstein is talking about sensations. He seems to divide this section into addressing in what way words refer to ...
6
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1answer
127 views

How does Putnam reconcile having referents in language with rejection of realism?

Putnam is known for changing his mind often, but he seems to hold two views of linguistic meaning and reference simultaneously, combining which seems paradoxical. One is Quine's inscrutability of ...
4
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2answers
227 views

What arguments support the idea that rational thinking requires language use?

The idea that rationality has language as a necessary condition might be called, per Brandom, lingualism. What are the most popular arguments for this position? Why should we think that the way we ...
8
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1answer
297 views

Are there different levels/categories of falsehood?

Consider the following sentences: The current president of the United States has 2 daughters. The current president of the United States has 5 sons. The current emperor of the United States has 12 ...
12
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2answers
279 views

How does language alter our experience of the world?

I was thinking — if we didn't have words our experiences would be different somehow. It seems to me that perhaps words are limiting our experiences because as soon as we relate an experience to a ...
3
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1answer
303 views

Making 'sense' of Wittgenstein's senselessness / nonsense distinction in the Tractatus

For this question I'm just considering Wittgenstein's theory at the time of the Tractatus. As far as I know, for Wittgenstein: Meaning - The object denoted by a word (i.e. referent). Sense - The ...
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2answers
191 views

Difference between information and knowledge?

As far as I think projection of data unto subject mind is information for the subject whereas indentation or impressions accumulated owing to projection of data unto subject mind is knowledge for the ...
8
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9answers
613 views

How does materialism understand affect?

Materialism seems very intuitive to me, so much so that when we speak of 'apparently' non-physical things (ie: belief, awareness, concepts, ideas, sensations), my initial reaction is that there must ...
6
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7answers
2k views

Does Searle's Chinese Room model computers correctly?

Searle invented a thought experiment, the Chinese Room, which he proposes is an argument against Strong AI (that machines think) but not against Weak AI (that machines simulate thinking), he has a man ...
7
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2answers
234 views

Can there be a sufficient account of meaning without an account of intentionality?

Much has been said in recent philosophy in criticism of representationalist theories of meaning. The idea is that any representation can represent what it will only in a prior, limiting context. ...
6
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2answers
382 views

How should we choose between different theories according to Rorty, based on Kuhn?

Popper tried to distinguish a scientific framework from a non-scientific framework ( like Marxism or Psychoanalysis, according to him) by suggesting the criterion of falsification. Kuhn suggested ...
15
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6answers
410 views

Is a language its dictionary?

A dictionary defines words in a language, in terms of other words in that same language. An English dictionary is not the same as a Spanish dictionary, simply because the sets of English words and ...
24
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14answers
10k views

Since words are defined in terms of other words in dictionaries, leading to infinite loops, does it mean natural languages are meaningless?

Since words are defined in terms of other words in dictionaries, leading to infinite loops, does it mean natural languages are meaningless? Are infinitely recursive definitions valid? If we visualize ...
10
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9answers
4k views

What came first, language or consciousness?

What came first, language or consciousness? Has any philosopher said that language gives us consciousness by allowing us to communicate with ourselves and therefore giving us choices that we did ...
10
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4answers
3k views

What makes a good question?

Most philosophy begins with a question. I'm wondering why certain questions provoke more profound thoughts than others. What characteristics do good questions share with each other? How can we go ...
10
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8answers
5k views

What is the truth value of the proposition 'All unicorns are beautiful'?

If we let Fx denotes that which has the property of being a unicorn, and Gx denotes that which has the property of being beautiful, then this proposition would be signified by the following: ∀x(Fx→Gx)...
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9answers
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Could a programming language be considered as a language? [closed]

This question might seem like it answers itself, but I urge you to consider the possibilities and the impact this could have on society. As a systems engineer, programming is more common to me than ...
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8answers
2k views

Is 'is' a verb?

Generally, or at least in my experience, 'to be' is introduced as a verb. But is it? It doesn't appear to describe a change as in 'I kicked a ball' or 'he picked the pen up'. It describes things as ...
5
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2answers
2k views

What do philosophers mean by 'conceivable'?

Philosophers, especially in analytic metaphysics, often talk about the conceivability of things. Here are some examples: I can conceive a perfect being, therefore, a perfect being is possible. ...
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5answers
1k views

Is there a point to arguing about the meaning of words?

Firstly, I should mention that I am not sure, whether this the right place to ask such a question, but I am trying it anyway. Furthermore, one could say I come from a mathematics background and I am ...
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7answers
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Is music just another language?

In this video (starting around 00:28:30) the interviewer, Bryan Magee, and Noam Chomsky discuss musical composition as a form of thinking without language. But it seems trivial to me that music is a ...
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2answers
3k views

What did Wittgenstein mean by saying that the belief in the causal nexus is a superstition?

In the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Wittenstein says: 5.1361 The events of the future cannot be inferred from those of the present. Superstition is the belief in the causal nexus. I'm ...
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5answers
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What is the difference between the “is” of predication and the “is” of identity?

What is the difference between these, the "is" of predication and the "is" of identity? For example, when I say, "my pet is a cat", am I using "is" as an identity or as a predicate?
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3answers
1k views

How does Derrida explain the possibility of meaningful communication and linguistic coordination?

Consider this passage on Derrida and meaning (from here): The search for an 'essential reality' or 'origin' or 'truth' is futile, because "...language bears within itself the necessity of its ...
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5answers
195 views

Can any correct logical reasoning in natural language sentences be translated into a formal mathematical proof?

Since natural languages (e.g. English) are prone to ambiguities and misunderstandings due to their constant evolving nature and lack of rigorous formalization, and given an arbitrary philosopher X who ...
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3answers
3k views

What are some ways to read Wittgenstein's Tractatus other than resolute/irresolute?

There are, at present, two dominant ways to read Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (TLP). One is called the irresolute reading, the other the resolute reading. The irresolute reading ...
9
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2answers
157 views

Does fictional discourse pose special difficulties for logic?

Natural language is context-dependent, like the statement “My uncle is a plumber”, which is true or false depending on who asserts it. There has been lots of discussion about fictional entities and ...
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3answers
232 views

Why is private language an incoherent idea?

The fact that I have no problem imagining a private language probably implies that I don't understand the notion of private language. My understanding is private language is a language understandable ...
7
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1answer
326 views

If qualia are “something extra” to explain, isn't it weird that the brain produces speech about qualia?

This question is mainly directed at people who are firm physicalists (as opposed to dualists) but still think qualia are "something extra to be explained". I believe Searle and Chalmers both fall into ...
7
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3answers
554 views

Is Chomskys universal grammar synthetic a priori?

Chomskys notion of a universal grammar is his way of comprehending that human languages appear to have a deep grammar, and that children appear to learn language as though they are primed for it. It ...
5
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2answers
556 views

Fodor's language of thought

Fodor developed his idea of language of thought (representational account of propositional attitudes) from Brentano's ideas of intentionality. At the same time Daniel Dennett criticised the Fodor's ...
4
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2answers
348 views

Given Wittgenstein's characterisation of language as essentially public, can he characterise what form thinking takes?

According to Wittgenstein, language is an essentially public activity between minds; and language is structured by a grammar so that this communication can indeed occur. I think, the notion of ...
3
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4answers
222 views

Wittgenstein maintains language is public, can this be correct?

I come into the world where other beings are using language. I learn this. Those beings have come into the world where other beings are using language. They learn it. Those other beings come into ...
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3answers
226 views

Are there many minds or is there only one?

"If a lion could speak, we cannot understand it" - Ludwig Wittgenstein Machines vs Chaos of Human Language Mathematical Consensus Is a proof still valid if only the author understands it? ...
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4answers
214 views

Can there be an objective purpose?

If we define purpose as the reason for which something exists. Can there be an objective purpose for something?
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1answer
167 views

Undefined terms

How do we introduce the use of undefined terms and why are we allowed to do so? What is the difference between setting the rules of usage/manipulation and actually giving a definition?
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3answers
447 views

Do abstract ideas exist or are they only to be found in language?

Is there any reason to imagine that abstract ideas exist when they are nowhere to be found except in language? No more is known today, for example, about Platonic Forms than upon initial utterance ...
11
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2answers
467 views

Is “Mickey Mouse” a rigid designator?

According to Kripke, proper names, like Barack Obama, Michael Jackson etc are rigid designators. In all possible worlds, the name refers to the 'object' Barack Obama or Michael Jackson. This is true ...
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3answers
2k views

Can a “real” paradox exist?

Given a statement, S: "S is not true." We arrive at a paradoxical solution whether or not we assume S to be true or false. Does this automatically imply that we have made an error in logic, ...
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6answers
2k views

Do mainstream philosophers believe that Wittgenstein “solved” philosophy?

After finishing his first work, Wittgenstein left philosophy, thinking that he "solved" all philosophical problems. He is now considered one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century, if ...
6
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1answer
224 views

How does Wittgenstein's argument against recognizing private sensations work?

Wittgenstein writes in his Philosophical Investigations in paragraph 270: Let us imagine a use for the entry of the sign "S" in my diary. I discover that whenever I have a particular sensation a ...
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2answers
236 views

What is the difference between expressivism and representationalism in modern philosophy of language?

Philosophers like Robert Brandom and Huw Price make a fairly sharp distinction between expression and representation (or at least expressivism and representationalism). Price goes so far as to ...
4
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2answers
130 views

Would a pragmatist allow that meaning is representational of things in its use?

Pragmatism contends that use should be stressed when talking about the meaning of words before 'representation'. But what if we were to look at signification/representation as a sort of activity? If ...