Skip to main content
64 votes
Accepted

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

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 ...
Geoffrey Thomas's user avatar
  • 35.8k
45 votes
Accepted

Is "that nose is fake" nonsense?

You understand what the sentence means; therefore, it is not nonsense. We can perform all sorts of analyses to try to analyse why the sentence is meaningful (e.g. the "nose" refers both to ...
wizzwizz4's user avatar
  • 2,160
40 votes

Is a human language a prison for a mind?

One version of what you're asking is, in linguistics/cognitive science, called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. There's been a ton of writing and empirical work on this hypothesis.. My understanding (PhD ...
Adam Morris's user avatar
33 votes

Is every sentence we write or utter either true or false?

Various candidates would be: self-referential sentences such as "This sentence is false." opinion-based sentences such as "Chocolate is the most delicious ice cream flavor." sentences where the ...
present's user avatar
  • 2,500
27 votes

What's the solution to Sorites paradox?

The solution is to realise that the problem as posed is based on a false assumption that there is always a clear dividing line between two opposing classifications of degree. Take long and short, ...
Marco Ocram's user avatar
22 votes

Does the success of AI (Large Language Models) support Wittgenstein's position that "meaning is use"?

No. Wittgenstein would probably be the first to argue that the bare existence of a functioning Large Language Model does not by itself have any philosophical importance. The construction of an LLM is ...
transitionsynthesis's user avatar
20 votes

What is to be understood by the phrase "Israel's right to exist"?

It's referring to the state, not the land or the people, so your example of a pear isn't really applicable. The preamble of the 1988 charter of Hamas (aka "the Islamic Resistance Movement") declares ...
David's user avatar
  • 301
18 votes

Is a false dichotomy still a dichotomy?

Your central claim seems to be that an [adjective] x is always an x. However, consider the following examples... An exploded bomb A melted snowflake A fake diamond A wannabee popstar A cancelled ...
Marco Ocram's user avatar
18 votes

Can ChatGPT provide any value as a sounding board for philosophical exploration?

Since philosophy is about rigour, of thinking as well as of language, it is literally the opposite of a word game: as such, these LLM technologies, which are the next step of the statistical methods, ...
Julio Di Egidio - inactive's user avatar
17 votes

Is a human language a prison for a mind?

You're giving too much power to language as a way of structuring lived experience. While there may be some support for a weak version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, minds are more flexible than ...
Tiercelet's user avatar
  • 271
16 votes
Accepted

what is the truth value of a sarcastic statement?

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). ...
commando's user avatar
  • 7,399
16 votes

Is every sentence we write or utter either true or false?

The OP asks the following: Can I write or utter any sentence which is neither false nor true? Yes. An example would be Tomorrow I will rise at precisely 6 am. That sentence today is neither true nor ...
Frank Hubeny's user avatar
  • 19.5k
16 votes

Is it feasible to alter "well-established" languages?

Example of successful changes to language: The king of Korea famously introduced a writing system for Korea with great success. It took a king to impose this new writing system, and was successful ...
Stef's user avatar
  • 949
16 votes

Does a sentence exist if it is not written, spoken, or even thought of?

In math and logic structures can be said to "exist" even if the current universe may not hold an instance of them. Like "for every prime number there exists a larger prime number". ...
tkruse's user avatar
  • 3,925
15 votes

Why would this not resolve the Sorites paradox?

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 ...
E...'s user avatar
  • 6,556
15 votes
Accepted

Is Analytic Philosophy really just Language Philosophy

That quote is from Michael Dummett's book, Origins of Analytical Philosophy. A short answer is that according to Dummett, we cannot have a philosophy of anything until we have a clear theory of ...
Bumble's user avatar
  • 26k
15 votes

Is the statement "They like curry chicken." an objective or subjective statement?

An objective statement is a statement about "the thing in itself", with reality as is rather than as perceived. The statement "my computer runs Mac OS" is objective. I start there ...
Josiah's user avatar
  • 1,873
13 votes

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

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 ...
Jesbus's user avatar
  • 255
13 votes

Can we know that something exists even if we can't explain or define it?

Gravity is a great example to illustrate that yes, we can be certain a thing exists without having the ability to adequately explain or define it. As with the case of gravity, we can observe it and ...
mkinson's user avatar
  • 507
13 votes
Accepted

Can religions die out specifically lose followers and consequently stop existing? (ontologically speaking)

From an analytical position, the question itself is somewhat inadequate. First, religions aren't alive, so saying they die would be literally nonsensical. From a metaphorical position, we could easily ...
J D's user avatar
  • 27.7k
12 votes

Is every sentence we write or utter either true or false?

Is every sentence we write or utter either true or false? NO. A sentence is "a textual unit consisting of one or more words that are grammatically linked. [... The] words [are] grouped meaningfully ...
Mauro ALLEGRANZA's user avatar
12 votes

Can definitions in the Oxford Dictionary of the English Language be considered definitive in informal philosophical presentations?

A dictionary is not an authoritative text on the meaning of words; it's a guidebook for common usage. In philosophical discussions meaning is subject to contestation, and it is up to the speaker to ...
Ted Wrigley's user avatar
  • 20.1k
11 votes
Accepted

Is mathematics a language?

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: ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 43.4k
11 votes

What is to be understood by the phrase "Israel's right to exist"?

The reason Israel demands that the Palestinians recognize Israel's so-called "right to exist" is that in so doing, they would officially relinquish any and all claims they have on the land they owned ...
niels nielsen's user avatar
11 votes

Is the dichotomy between natural and unnatural defensible?

Natural is one of those words that fit the description of what John Austin called trouser-words in his book Sense and Sensibilia. Sometimes you can only understand a word by reference to what it is ...
Bumble's user avatar
  • 26k
11 votes

What's the solution to Sorites paradox?

One solution would be to say that even 1 grain is a heap. That would be defining "heap" more precisely than its informal, intuitive meaning. What does "heap" precisely mean anyway? ...
Frank's user avatar
  • 2,454
11 votes

What's the solution to Sorites paradox?

The answer is in the definition of a heap. I offer the definition that a heap must have at least one layer stacked upon a base layer. For grains of sand you need at least 3 grains in a base layer to ...
Xavier's user avatar
  • 211
11 votes

Is "that nose is fake" nonsense?

"Fake" in "fake nose" typically means the nose is artificial (e.g. man-made and surgically inserted), not that it's not a nose. One might go one step further and say that it ...
NotThatGuy's user avatar
  • 10.5k
11 votes
Accepted

What's the name of a fallacy when a debater selectively picks facts and ignores others?

It is the cherry picking fallacy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherry_picking Edit: Thanks to gidds for pointing out the number of different names for this fallacy. Here are a few: Cherry Picking (...
Idiosyncratic Soul's user avatar
11 votes

Could general-AI language generation be a test for sentience, sapience, or consciousness?

If several independent general AI were to, unprompted, develop their own language ab initio (or perhaps from other languages,) could this serve as a test for sentience, sapience, or general ...
J D's user avatar
  • 27.7k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible