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

I'm very familiar with the argument John makes with his Chinese Room argument, and he's extremely consistent about what he means it to portray: that our concept of what it means to understand language is mistaken when we try to apply the term to any machine which operates only syntactically. It's primarily a refutation of the notion that a Turing Test is ...


13

This specific case is indeed a vacuous truth. A vacuous truth is "a statement that asserts that all members of the empty set have a certain property". It takes three forms: ∀ x : P(x) → Q(x)     where ∀ x : ¬P(x) ∀ x ∈ P : Q(x)          where P = ∅ ∀ ξ...


13

A good way to look at this is through the concepts that Frege introduced - sense (sinn) and reference (bedeutung). The question becomes whether the proposition All unicorns are beautiful has sense and reference: one can ask whether the proper names - unicorn and beautiful refer; one can argue that these names occur in the corpus of written works, that ...


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 ...


12

Sarcasm is one of the troublesome linguistic phenomena living in a contested no man's land between semantics (the study of language-internal meaning) and pragmatics (the study of meaning in context). It's thus debated whether the sarcasm in an utterance affects its logical form, and consequently whatever truth tables it has, or whether sarcasm triggers ...


12

Your proposed solution does not solve the paradox. The whole point of the paradox is that the term 'pile' is vague. That is, given an object (e.g. a collection of grains of sand) it is indeterminate whether the term applies to this object or not. It is indeterminate since it's not clear just how many grains constitute a heap (for any number n, you can ...


11

Couldn't anybody find some reasons for proving/disproving it? I think it is "dissolved" and not "unsolved". Radical skepticism with regard to the possibility of ultimate philosophical grounding is based on an abstractive fallacy. It is somewhat misleading coherence to present the radical skeptic position in terms of an argument, because in presenting an ...


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

Your concern is sound ... In Aristotle's Logic the inference from : ∀x (Fx → Gx) to : ∃x (Fx & Gx) is legitimate. In modern logic, this is not; we say that general terms have existential import. See the discussion of The Traditional Square of Opposition : This representation of the four forms is now generally accepted, except for qualms ...


11

I think that the second half of the given Wikipedia passage is just confused. First, the concept of recursion belongs to algorithm theory, and is unhelpful here. Recursion, unlike what is written, is not nonsensical. Second, it should have been "x = life" rather then "x = the meaning of life". Then the argument becomes: if we accept that 'the meaning of x' ...


10

Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico Philosophicus was the first major attempt to create a formal representation of a language, though the idea of this as a useful project goes back at least as far as Descartes. The basis of Wittgenstein's work was Frege's 'concept script', developed a few decades earlier for the purpose of reducing arithmetic to logic, and a ...


10

Kripke hesitates a little bit when it comes to fictional entities. The issue partially boils down to the following question: "Could fictional entities like Sherlock Holmes and Mickey Mouse exist?" On the one hand, you might think "Yeah, of course! Sherlock Holmes isn't contradictory or anything; surely there's a possible world where he could have existed." ...


10

1 Let's start with a simpler case first. While it is true that the statement (a) "I am moving" is true at some points in time and false at others, it doesn't mean that given any point t in time we have: (b) "I am moving at time t " ∧ "I am not moving at time t ". Given any time t, either you are moving at time t or you are not. The fact that ...


10

Modern philosophy of language actually says a fair bit about this. (I've seen this example, and ones like it, in a number of philosophy articles. I'll give some references at the bottom.) First, I'll argue that Lincoln is right. Then I'll say some stuff about the use/mention distinction, which is a central concept in the philosophy of language, and is key ...


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 ...


10

It is not a criticism of recursion theory and recursive definitions [by the way, recursion theory originated in the 1930s while the Tractatus was written during the first world war and was first published in German in 1921. And also, in 1921 Kurt Gödel was only fifteen years old: he published his doctoral dissertation, where he established the completeness ...


9

why can't all words mean an exact thing? The most concise answer you are going to find is in Section 293: the famous "beetle in a box" thought experiment. If I say of myself that it is only from my own case that I know what the word "pain" means - must I not say the same of other people too? And how can I generalize the one case so irresponsibly? ...


9

The Derrida volume Limited, Inc. contains the critical documents, minus Searle's piece, due to Searle's refusing permission. The publications went like this: Derrida, in 1971, delivered a lecture in Montreal entitled "Signature Event Context", which discussed the notion of communication in various philosophers from Condillac to Austin. This work was ...


9

I generally take characters on shows to be a different instance of the same person, that is, the name doesn't matter, but in the context of the show the actor is that same actor but in the context of the parallel universe developed for the show. Let's use object orientated because that is freakishly easy notation for this problem. (Consensus Reality).(Wil ...


9

What is true of words denoting one sort of concept is not always true of words denoting other sorts of concepts, even if they are generally considered to have the same 'part of speech'. For instance, the progressive is X-ing construction sounds just fine when used with some verbs (John is running, Kate is writing), but odd, if not downright ungrammatical, ...


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

This is all about the difference between natural language and formal language. In formal language, a term cannot be used unless it's well-defined according to the standards of the language. In natural language, on the other hand, well-defined terms are the exception rather than the rule. The Sorites paradox forces us to us to recognize that a term like "...


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

No given dictionary for a language completely describes that language. One of the elements of a language is its lexicon: the collection of words that are composed to make up strings of that language. Dictionaries are always behind the lexicon as it changes more quickly than lexicographers can keep up with. Even if we change the question to ask about the ...


8

Based on your summary, it appears both methods of reading interpret the writings of the Tractatus as senseless (irresolute) or nonsense (resolute). In other words, both readings, if applied to the whole of the text, would classify it as belonging to something beyond the limits of "world, thought and language". It seems safe to assume that Wittgenstein's ...


8

The question is based on a common misunderstanding of Derrida's work-- one he addresses repeatedly. For example, in "Toward an Ethics of Discussion", he writes: "[L]et it be said in passing how surprised I have often been, how amused or discouraged, depending on my humor, by the user or abuse of the following argument: Since the deconstructionist (which ...


8

This probably has to do with the so-called "linguistic turn": during the 20th century it has been considered (Wittgenstein, logical empiricists, ...) that the role of philosophy is not answering big questions, but only clarifying what we mean, analysing our language, in contrast with science whose role is to test our claims empirically. That was the ...


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 ...


8

There are philosophers that hail Wittgenstein as the greatest of the greats. There are also philosophers that do not. Just like in most areas of philosophy there is disagreement. In the Tractatus 6.54 he states My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, ...


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