Questions tagged [philosophy-of-language]

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

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4k views

How many legs does a dog have?

I recently came across a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln: If you call a tail a leg, how many legs has a dog? Five? No, calling a tail a leg don't make it a leg. Is this really so? Imagine the ...
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5answers
561 views

Can infinity be defined?

I know that one can look in a dictionary and find definitions for "infinity". Similarly, texts in mathematics will give varying accounts of how "infinity" is treated. So, I am not asking for these ...
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271 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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3answers
197 views

How can truth exist if every statement is ambiguous? [closed]

I have read online and personally believe that every statement has some degree of ambiguity to it. With this in mind, I was wondering how any propositions can be true. For example, I have heard some ...
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1answer
508 views

what is the exact meaning of bedeutung for Frege?

When we read the seminal essay of "sense and reference" by Frege, one of the most important ambiguity is the meaning of "bedeutung". Of course Michael Dummett the Late great philosopher point out to ...
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4answers
175 views

Can a ban on certain words be justified rationally?

In our world there is a notion of political correctness. There are some words which can be considered rude or abusive in themselves, regardless of the thought behind them. However, this seems awkward ...
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386 views

What does Frege mean by “Cognitive Significance” in “On Sense and Nominatum”?

I'm reading Frege's "On Sense and Nominatum" and he uses "Cognitive significance", "Genuine Cognition"... I kind of infer from the context of each paragraph what he means with those kinds of phrases ...
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3answers
94 views

Can anything be considered to be meaningful if it is neither a subject nor predicate?

When we say 'Ed is mean', 'Ed' is the subject and 'mean' is the predicate. Can any existing thing or any notion of existence itself be considered meaningful if it cannot possibly fit into these two ...
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3answers
584 views

What is the point of reductio ad absurdum in metaphysics?

Philosophers often use reductio ad absurdum in metaphysics and philosophy of mind to make a point, to justify their position, or a thought experiment, or to reject a position or theory they do not ...
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2k views

Is there any Philosophical significance to why Plato chose to present his work in the form of a dialogue?

Spinoza presented his work in a proposition/theorem format following Euclid, presumably to varnish his work in the seemingly eternal verities of mathematics. Is there any significance as to why Plato ...
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136 views

Is the true definition of a word “everything an object is not” until we learn otherwise?

..I am hoping that someone can help correct me if I am wrong or mislead. Using a tree as an example to explain my question: it is difficult to narrow down an exact definition of a tree because every ...
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2answers
222 views

Semantic Values of Sentences

I'm after the proper method for constructing semantic values of whole sentences out of the semantic values of individual words. There are also a few individual words I'm curious about as well. If we ...
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Book on philosophy of language for beginners

Reading books about philosophy of language I came cross a lot of terminology like "metaphysics", "epistemology", "aesthetics", "logical positivist" etc. As I'm a total beginner in this area, I'm ...
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59 views

Semantics of Properties - Are categories of extensions members or subsets?

For example: "Cars have wheels." If we take "have wheels" as a property of a set A, would cars as a category be an element of set A, or only a subset of A?
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1answer
224 views

Is it possible that philosophical problems arise because of confusions on our language?

People ask: "Who am I" or "What is a matter" but: Is it possible that those questions arise because of confusions in our language? The questions seem intangible and hugely based on the luxuries that ...
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1answer
176 views

How did Wittgenstein become interested in the philosophy of language?

As far as I know he was doing engineering and became interested in the foundations of mathematics and went to Frege and upon his advice he went to study logic from Russell. So what happened which ...
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150 views

Why are imperatives not propositions according to Frege?

I'm reading Frege's "On Sense and Nominatum" and I am confused with: "Imperatives have no nominata; they have only sense. It is true, commands or requests are not propositions, but they are of the ...
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3k views

How do we know something is a “category mistake”?

I believe that Gilbert Ryle introduced the term "category mistake", but I am struggling to apply the term. Could you please give me an obvious and less obvious instance of a category-mistake? And if ...
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250 views

Does language itself support the extended mind hypothesis?

language, even when taking into Chomskys hypothesis of the biological ground of 'Deep Grammar', is primarily public: The English language is not built into our minds, it is 'out there'. I come into ...
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1answer
190 views

What is the subject of Tractatus by Wittgenstein?

Is Tractatus about the Philosophy of language or Philosophy of logic. I was hearing John Searle's lecture and he said there are two strands in Philosophy of language :- 1. Logical theory of language 2....
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1answer
276 views

Are A series and B series actually about time or only about language?

Actually, A series is represented by sentences like: She was home yesterday. B series represented by sentences like: She was home on the 24th of August, 2018. A-theory represents time as A ...
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2answers
125 views

Is the set of all true contingent propositions equal to the set of all true propositions?

Since the conjunct of a true contingent proposition and a necessary proposition is contingent and hence it is contained in the set of all contingent propositions. Does that mean that the set of all ...
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4answers
710 views

What does it mean to know or not know something?

Once one know something, one can't unknow it. We can't just forget what we've known like the way we delete computer's file. Yet it take us a split of second to obtain information and embed it in our ...
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237 views

References for the study of language

I'm looking for (not too difficult too read) references related to Semiotics Philosophy of Language Philosophy of Linguistics I mainly seek the understanding of ideas about the relation between ...
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2answers
625 views

What are the objections to the picture theory of language?

The title says it all. I am just interested to explore the objections briefly. I'll really appreciate if all is explained in layman's term and suggestion to helpful material is also welcome.
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568 views

Examples of non formal languages [closed]

I recently began looking at languages from a mathematical perspective. From a mathematical perspective a formal language is the widest definition of a language I have found. However, there is a ...
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3answers
245 views

How to deal with counterfactuals with false antecedents

Consider the following hypothetical question: If there were two moons, what kind of poem would be composed? There are two ways of considering this type of statement that I find unexciting: Any ...
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2answers
141 views

Is anything known about the content of Sraffa's critique of Wittgenstein's Philosophy?

in the preface to Wittgensteins Philosophical Investigations he says: For since beginning to occupy myself with philosophy sixteen years ago I have been forced to recognise grave mistakes in what I ...
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2answers
130 views

Do linguists call human language “natural”? [closed]

From a recent question (Could a programming language be considered as a language?), it came to me the impression that there may be some confusion about the terminology professional linguists use, when ...
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180 views

What emotion corresponds to courage?

In the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle outlines an axis for lache (courage); where one extreme is cowardice, and the other recklessness. One can associate the emotion of fear with cowardice, but what ...
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1answer
62 views

What would prevent me from putting brains in vats?

Following Putnam, I cannot possibly be a brain in a vat, because (if my understanding is correct) I can only refer to "vats" that are not the ones in which I suggest my brain could be. But what ...
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1answer
123 views

What are some opinions about what beauty is in poetry? [closed]

I am interested in hearing some explanations about what beauty is in poetry and subjectively define what makes a poem beautiful.
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1answer
103 views

Questions about the relationship between Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations and Tractatus

I've read the Tractatus and am now working my way through Investigations, and I have a few questions about their relationship to one another. Obviously I've heard that the latter is critical of the ...
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117 views

Philosophers who did not think that language is more special than cognition as a whole

There are pretty many philosophers who talked and wrote on the philosophy of language. Usually language only means the use of words and symbols, however, I noticed that symbols may have different ...
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1answer
157 views

Is ordinary language philosophy dead?

Wikipedia states that It is now not uncommon to hear that Ordinary Language philosophy is no longer an active force. Wittgenstein is perhaps the only one among the major figures of linguistic ...
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2answers
165 views

Can I truly express my thoughts?

Looking at the Private language argument it occurs to me that Wittgenstein does not really account for the developmental nature of language: Temporal and spacial separation of Speakers will ...
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1answer
65 views

Propositional content and reference

My main question is this: Let p be a sentence. Can I have the proposition expressed by p be the same even if the referent of p is different? So as an example I'm thinking of stuff like: p = 'My ...
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1answer
72 views

Implication in sentences

What implications do we get when we use the past tense? For example, if I say that when I was younger, I used to play football, does this imply that now I don't?
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96 views

What kind of incommensurability does Kuhn claim rules out convergent realism?

A standard conception of the transition from classical to relativistic physics is that although Einstein's theory of relativity supersedes Newton's theory, what we have is an improvement or ...
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1answer
209 views

The hanging judge

I came across the below problem in book: 101 Philosophical problems. And wondering for a while what the possible answer could be? Any thoughts? Problem Now Judge Dread had had many disagreeable ...
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1answer
127 views

What are possible resolutions of the length unit paradox stemming from Zeno's Paradoxes?

The paradox in question: If every unit of length is made up of smaller units of length, it seems that you need to have units of length before a unit of length can come into existence. But this is ...
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2answers
82 views

Did Quine have another reason to be skeptical of reference besides its context-dependence?

Quine, like many others before him, thought that the meaning of words depends on the context they are in. But what compelled Quine to hold that in light of this there is an ambiguity as to what any ...
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1answer
467 views

Individual/Universal Concepts: What does Popper mean in section 14 of Logic of Scientific Discovery?

In section 14 of The Logic of Scientific Discovery Popper discusses the use of universal and individual names or concepts in singular and universal statements. He starts with a pretty ...
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1answer
102 views

What is the meaning of “using against the edifice the instruments or stones available in the house” in Derrida?

Can anyone help me with the meaning of this sentence? "For Derrida deconstruction is "to attempt an exit and a deconstruction without changing terrain, by repeating what is implicit in the ...
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6answers
310 views

Is it possible to argue against a person who is skeptical about the meaning of all words?

Such person would consider the meaning of all words to be vague (including the meaning of the word "vague" ), and think that actually we do not know what we are talking about (including this sentence ...
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1answer
60 views

What makes a question other than its expression?

Outside on meta a few oddballs are asking about questions on stack exchange e.g. me hah I think we can agree that a questioning mind can be have negative value (e.g. motivated or full to brim with ...
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88 views

Can the correspondance theory of truth take into account observer effects?

Kant wrote in the Metaphysics of Natural Science If we ·keep mathematics out of the picture and· think of the doctrine of the soul merely as a systematic art of analysis or as an experimental ...
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89 views

What is Brandom's notion of implicitness?

Robert Brandom seems to have a very distinct notion of implicitness when he says things like: For while that vocabulary is not itself descriptive vocabulary, its use is implicit in the use of ...
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3answers
85 views

Dual of identity relation?

Does anyone have any intuitions about what the dual of the identity relation might be? I.e. is there a 'natural' concept expressed by a statement such as 'it is not the case that a is not identical to ...
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1answer
272 views

Is the line between use and mention always defined?

Consider the sentence "I like Heroin", meaning that you enjoy the famous song by the Velvet Underground. Is the expression in italics used or mentioned? To me it seems that it's a use, but a weird one....