56

Natural languages do not depend in any fundamental way on our learning the meanings of words from dictionaries. No child I know learns to speak, read and understand meanings by memorising dictionary entries. For one thing, a child must know some rules of grammar even to see the point of a dictionary. For another, children learn words by associating sounds ...


13

The fact that a dictionary defines each word as a loop that includes other words doesn't mean there is no information present in the dictionary. The information about all the words together is encoded in a mangled form, namely in the structure of this network of relations and loops. If an alien civilization received an English dictionary, there's a good ...


11

Communication Compare your question: My understanding is that your native language is the one you are most comfortable with, even if society around you doesn't speak it. and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language: Language is the ability to acquire and use complex systems of communication, particularly the human ability to do so, and a language is any ...


11

The introduction to Jeniffer Liu's 2016 thesis The Problem of Philosophy in Classical Chinese Thought goes in depth into the genesis of Chinese terms associated with philosophy, and shades of meaning surrounding them. The older term that referred to the works of classical masters was zǐ shū, but its identification with philosophy is controversial: "A ...


10

It is more than that. Even if we take the Galileo's metaphor literally, he is suggesting that there is a language of mathematics, specifically geometry, not that mathematics, as such, is a language: "Philosophy is written in this grand book — I mean the universe — which stands continually open to our gaze, but it cannot be understood unless one first ...


9

The answer is straightforward in the context of Chomsky's universal grammar, which music does not fit. However, the innate grammar structures postulated by Chomsky were not as universally encountered outside of the major European and Oriental languages, and the conception has little purchase with modern linguists, see Does majority of linguists accept ...


9

Many linguists including Chomsky I believe have studied languages up to the point of realizing that there are no set rules as to how languages develop. They just do. It's technocratic and overly formal philosophical view to think that natural language is structured like formal languages. Formal languages can model natural language, but it doesn't mean that ...


8

This is undeniably difficult. The section at 4.1212 onwards is where he gives his take on the internal/external relations doctrine. The holding of internal relations cannot be asserted by propositions, but rather shows itself in the propositions (in den Saetzen), by an internal property of the proposition which presents a state of affairs. A property is ...


8

Your view is similar to that of late Wittgenstein, after the so-called "linguistic turn". In Philosophical Investigations published in 1953 he writes “For a large class of cases of the employment of the word ‘meaning’—though not for all—this can be explained in this way: the meaning of a word is its use in the language”. He describes linguistic activity as a ...


7

In the context of the linked interview, both Chomsky and his interviewer have an understanding of the term "language" that excludes music from it. To put it as a syllogism: (P) All language activities involve the use of words, whether those words are expressed externally (spoken/written) or internally (your internal monologue). (P) Music composition does ...


7

Humans do not initially learn language from the dictionary; they initially learn the first rudiments of language from ostensive definitions (also known as "definition by pointing"). A pre-linguistic child points to a cat, and his mother says "cat", and after repetition of this event, the child learns that the word "cat" describes the class of furry ...


7

In "Paris is the capital of France", "is" is used to mean identity. In "my pet is a cat", "is" is used to mean predication : my pet belongs to the class of cats. See Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus : 3.323 In everyday language it very frequently happens that the same word has different modes of signification—and so belongs to different symbols—or that ...


6

In many situations there is. Strictly speaking, a definition can never be "wrong", unless it is incoherent or contains a contradiction, like "dry wetness". But it can be awkward, cumbersome, confusing, fruitless, and all other sorts of undesirable. This is why people often talk about misnomers and what definitions "ought" to be. Here is Quine:"Any word worth ...


6

It sort of sounds like you're getting stuck on the numerical expression, which is subjective because Pi is also 11.00100100001111110110... and 3.243F6A8885A308D313198A2E0... [See π in Different Bases] This is a little bit outside of my field, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say Pi is not arbitrary, but is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to ...


6

Isn't every natural language an infinite language in the sense that it can generate infinitely many sentences and infinitely many word-tokens ? This is the case even if most of these sentences are never uttered and most of the word-tokens do not occur. A language which employed only infinitely long sentences could not be understood by any realistically ...


6

I will make several suggestions, although I am not certain that I interpret the question as intended. The strongest case (arguably) for philosophical foundations to epistemology in modern times, including the idea that positive sciences require such an inquiry into their foundations to function properly, was emphatically made by Husserl throughout his life. ...


5

I have some points for you to consider: 1) The English translations I have read so far were trying to get the thought, but actually did miss it from time to time. That's a big problem when reading Kant, because in most cases each sentence has its weight and if you do not get one right, you could have trouble to follow later parts of the text. 2) Sentence ...


5

The expression is meaningful, because the meaning of a sentence is a function of the meaning of its parts, as long as those parts are put together in the right way. "A and not-A" is a conjunction of "A" and "not A". A is a meaningful sentence, not-A is a meaningful sentence, and if you conjoin two meaningful sentences, you still get a meaningful sentence in ...


5

Yes and no, postmodernism certainly embraced the rejection of "first principles" and perhaps elevated it to a new level, but this rejection was neither originated by it nor is specific to it. Traditional justification of knowledge "from first principles" has been a hallmark of classical philosophy, from Plato, to Descartes, to Kant, to Husserl, more broadly ...


5

The idea that there is a fundamental difference is known as the Frege-Russell "is" ambiguity thesis, Corazzon's webpage is a very good source on it. In addition to the is-es of predication and identity they distinguished the is of existence, and the is of subsumption. However, from Aristotle to Frege philosophers did not draw such distinctions. The need for ...


5

According to the Nietzsche Channel, Nietzsche read Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground in a French translation by E. Halpérine et Ch. Morice. The Nietzsche Library at the Nietzsche Channel contains a reconstruction of his library. This collection lists plays by Shakespeare in English along with translations in German. The works of Shelley were in German ...


5

Frank Hubery has answered the question for Nietzsche's knowledge of French. I'd add the following extract from Nietzsche's April 1875 letter to Marie Baumgartner : He himself confirms the shakiness of his French in a letter to Marie Baumgartner of April 1875, when he thanks her for correcting his mistranslation from Montaigne in Schopenhauer as ...


5

Conifold's answer is correct in relation to Modern China. But from my understanding, Ancient China uses a variety of words to describe their "philosophers". For example, in the Spring and Autumn Period (春秋), philosophers are addressed by their last name followed by the word "子”. So, Confucius is called "孔子”, or Master Kong. Mencius is addressed as "孟子", or ...


4

Preamble Your fears are regrettably well-founded. Unlike mathematical logic, the philosophy of language is not so clear cut and remains to this day a deeply controversial topic. There are a dozen schools of thought on the philosophy of language, both classical and contemporary. It is a fundamental and unquestionably significant field of philosophical ...


4

As long as you can do math, the answer is theoretically no. The reason is as soon as you can formulate something equivalent to a Turing machine, you have an essentially arbitrarily capable computational engine. So whatever filtering happens by making certain things easier or harder to express in a particular language can't filter anything out completely ...


4

Reading Kant, e.g., Critique of Pure Reason (CPR), is a difficult task even for Germans (I am a German native speaker). Often Kant makes very long sentences. Before understanding the text one has to search first in the sentence, to which word a certain pronoun refers to. Secondly, Kants uses words which are no longer in use in German. Hence, even after ...


4

It depends very much on how deeply you wish to delve into the works of a particular philosopher. Many general concepts translate well, and you can learn a lot using only translated works in your native tongue. However, the devil is in the details. Many of the best philosophers pushed the boundaries of their language, and when one does so, it becomes ...


4

This has been done, in the form of Lincos. The problem with any attempt at a language from first principles is that it has to presuppose common ground. How much common ground can we assume? On one hand, intelligent alien life could be so alien as to render communication impossible. On the other hand, we can look at it from an evolutionary perspective. ...


4

I can't point you to an exact name, but what you are referring to is the computational theory of the mind: The idea that the brain is a computer, and mental states and entities (language, thoughts, beliefs, etc...) are software installed on this device. The computational theory of mind is itself a type of functionalist theory of the mind. The way you ...


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