Reply Sat 22 May, 2010 09:34 pm
I've lately been interested in what words do not seem able to manage. Qualia, for instance. We have a word for green, but this word cannot carry greeness to the blind, for instance. We have a word for "toothache," but this word cannot carry pain. We also have words like "love" which do not directly carry the experienced emotion to the other.

What can philosophy really say about such things? I'm quite aware that light can be abstractly described as EMR. What I'm looking at is the opposite of abstraction, that which slips through the mesh of language. Here I am using to language to point at what language cannot give us. Raw experience, sensation, emotion. Yes, our existence is largely conceptual but obviously largely sensation, desire, love, pain. I stress that I'm not looking for abstractions as to the causes of these but rather at their ineffability (in theory) as experiences, subjective experiences. The causal network of science is not important in this regard. Of course that is open to debate.

Are such experiences the foundation of our concept of the subject? Language is never private. But this ineffable seems essentially private. Maybe the day will come when a machine can pipe qualia from brain to brain.(The movie "Strange Days") But I don't think that day is here.
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kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 May, 2010 10:07 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;167503 wrote:
I've lately been interested in what words do not seem able to manage. Qualia, for instance. We have a word for green, but this word cannot carry greeness to the blind, for instance. We have a word for "toothache," but this word cannot carry pain. We also have words like "love" which do not directly carry the experienced emotion to the other.



I find myself stopped by your saying that the word "green" cannot "carry greenness to the blind", or "toothache" cannot "carry pain". I can but imagine what you might mean by saying that? Do you mean that if I say that, for instance, that grass is green, a blind man would not know what I mean? Surely not. That he would not see green. I guess not, but then neither would a sighted man see green just because I use the term "green". Do you, perhaps mean that if I used the term "green" a sighted man could image the color green, but a (congenitally) blind man could not? I suppose that is true, but is that what you mean? But is it true that if I say to someone that the grass is green that person always imagines the color green? How would you know this is true? Let's go to "toothache". Is it the case that when I say that I have a toothache, the person is supposed to feel a pain in his tooth, or have some counter-part feeling. Is the word "toothache" supposed to convey an actual toothache to the hearer? What would it even be for (as you put it) a word to "carry pain". How would a word "carry pain" anyhow?

Isn't this just another instance of a philosopher raising the dust, and then complaining that he cannot see? Exactly what is the problem you think there is supposed to be?
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 May, 2010 10:27 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;167517 wrote:
Is the word "toothache" supposed to convey an actual toothache to the hearer? What would it even be for (as you put it) a word to "carry pain". How would a word "carry pain" anyhow?

Isn't this just another instance of a philosopher raising the dust, and then complaining that he cannot see? Exactly what is the problem you think there is supposed to be?


I'm simply emphasizing the limits of language in regards to qualia and pain. I'm trying to show perhaps that qualia and pain (etc.) are irreducible experiences. We simply live in a world where we experience the "color" "green" and many other "things." It's not about dust being raised, but rather that we too often forget, in my opinion, just how unexplained much of human experience remains, and perhaps always shall remain. This thread has a positive intent. I don't think that qualia or toothaches can be communicated directly. To what degree is the notion of the self founded on private experience? And are we not looking at the limits of abstraction here? What can abstractions add or take away from such experience?
These are mostly rhetorical questions. I'm trying to point out the irreducible in experience.
north
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 May, 2010 10:37 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;167524 wrote:
I'm simply emphasizing the limits of language in regards to qualia and pain. I'm trying to show perhaps that qualia and pain (etc.) are irreducible experiences. We simply live in a world where we experience the "color" "green" and many other "things." It's not about dust being raised, but rather that we too often forget, in my opinion, just how unexplained much of human experience remains, and perhaps always shall remain. This thread has a positive intent. I don't think that qualia or toothaches can be communicated directly. To what degree is the notion of the self founded on private experience? And are we not looking at the limits of abstraction here? What can abstractions add or take away from such experience?


but is it not obvious that some experiences just can't be fully communicated


Quote:
These are mostly rhetorical questions. I'm trying to point out the irreducible in experience.


I still don't see your point though ?
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 May, 2010 10:44 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;167524 wrote:
I'm simply emphasizing the limits of language in regards to qualia and pain. I'm trying to show perhaps that qualia and pain (etc.) are irreducible experiences. We simply live in a world where we experience the "color" "green" and many other "things." It's not about dust being raised, but rather that we too often forget, in my opinion, just how unexplained much of human experience remains, and perhaps always shall remain. This thread has a positive intent. I don't think that qualia or toothaches can be communicated directly. To what degree is the notion of the self founded on private experience? And are we not looking at the limits of abstraction here? What can abstractions add or take away from such experience?
These are mostly rhetorical questions. I'm trying to point out the irreducible in experience.


Yes, the word "green" is not, itself, green, nor does its utterance produce in the hearer the sensation of green. And the world "toothache" is not, itself, a toothache, and nor does its utterance produce in the hearer a toothache. Is that what you are saying? I think that most of us know that. But is that all you are saying?
0 Replies
 
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 May, 2010 10:48 pm
@north,
north;167531 wrote:
but is it not obvious that some experiences just can't be fully communicated

Yes, it is. But don't the abstract type sometimes forget the limit of their abstractions? Isn't the issue of qualia and private experience largely neglected? And yet this is what so much of life is made of. It's just hard to talk about, so we talk constantly with universalizing abstractions without remembering how ineffable human experience largely is.

For me, this is connect to the realization of how small any of our abstract systems are in relation to this ocean of ineffable experience. I think we tend to treat our fellow human cruelly precisely because certain abstractions fascinate us to the point where we don't see that our simplest experiences remain a mystery. We simply take this strange gift of life for granted. We chase these expensive things. We envy the enviable. Etc. We have more than we think we have, assuming we aren't starving.

---------- Post added 05-22-2010 at 11:50 PM ----------

kennethamy;167539 wrote:
Yes, the word "green" is not, itself, green, nor does its utterance produce in the hearer the sensation of green. And the world "toothache" is not, itself, a toothache, and nor does its utterance produce in the hearer a toothache. Is that what you are saying? I think that most of us know that. But is that all you are saying?


That's the conceptual message, yes. Yes, it's simple and obvious. But does it keep us from our addictions to abstractions? From thinking we have actually explained the world with our abstract causal network? It's like what Witt said. Even if all the questions of science are answered, is that really all we want to know? Life is mysterious 24 hours a day, except we lose this mystery in abstractions. Which of course is necessary. But it's not always necessary.

---------- Post added 05-22-2010 at 11:54 PM ----------

north;167531 wrote:
I still don't see your point though ?


Sartre calls it nausea, because his character in Nausea experiences the unpleasant side of it. Under the film of our abstractions is something beautiful and terrible. We walk the street and don't notice a thousand details. We go to art museums for aethetic experiences, although we immersed all the time in ineffable experience. I think modern man is largely lost in abstractions, in his symbols. His clothes, cars, etc., are as symbolic as they are sensual. He's caught in this symbolic-linguistic layer to the point where he becomes bored, in the midst of mystery. We take our lives for granted.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 May, 2010 11:02 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;167540 wrote:
Y


That's the conceptual message, yes. Yes, it's simple and obvious. But does it keep us from our addictions to abstractions? From thinking we have actually explained the world with our abstract causal network? It's like what Witt said. Even if all the questions of science are answered, is that really all we want to know? Life is mysterious 24 hours a day, except we lose this mystery in abstractions. Which of course is necessary. But it's not always necessary.

---------- Post added 05-22-2010 at 11:54 PM ----------





Well, if that is the "conceptual message", as you put it, I have not noticed much danger from anyone confusing the word "green" with the experience of green, or thinking that I can transmit the experience to someone by simply uttering the word, but maybe I hang around with a different people than you. In any case, though, if that is the "conceptual message" you are intent on sending, I would use clear an simple language to send it. It might be more effective that way.
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 May, 2010 11:07 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;167548 wrote:
Well, if that is the "conceptual message", as you put it, I have not noticed much danger from anyone confusing the word "green" with the experience of green, or thinking that I can transmit the experience to someone by simply uttering the word, but maybe I hang around with a different people than you. In any case, though, if that is the "conceptual message" you are intent on sending, I would use clear an simple language to send it. It might be more effective that way.


Perhaps. But you have ignored the more important part, which was my emphasis. I'm talking about how being absorbed in abstractions makes us forgetful of how strange and unexplained or usual human experience is. Humans look for a miracle, as if their everyday lives weren't an easily discovered mystery.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 May, 2010 11:19 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;167550 wrote:
Perhaps. But you have ignored the more important part, which was my emphasis. I'm talking about how being absorbed in abstractions makes us forgetful of how strange and unexplained or usual human experience is. Humans look for a miracle, as if their everyday lives weren't an easily discovered mystery.


I don't really know who you have in mind. Maybe someone like Hegel, or the German Idealists. Maybe Foucault or Heidegger, and others of their ilk. But I keep away from such polluters of the intellect, so I don't really require any therapy.
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 May, 2010 11:22 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;167557 wrote:
I don't really know who you have in mind. Maybe someone like Hegel, or the German Idealists. Maybe Foucault or Heidegger, and others of their ilk. But I keep away from such polluters of the intellect, so I don't really require any therapy.


Ah, but you are missing my point. As much as I love Hegel mediated thru the clear style of Kojeve, that's still just abstractions. I'm looking at something more radical. I'm looking at exactly what is not abstract, while admitting that language cannot address it.

I don't know if Heidegger meant something like this. I know less about Foucault. The only person who comes to mind is Witt, maybe. The TLP seems to hint at the limits of abstraction.

Hey, if you're happy that's great! So am I. But it increases my happiness to peel back my sometimes encrusted perception.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 May, 2010 11:28 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;167559 wrote:
Ah, but you are missing my point. As much as I love Hegel mediated thru the clear style of Kojeve, that's still just abstractions. I'm looking at something more radical. I'm looking at exactly what is not abstract, while admitting that language cannot address it.

I don't know if Heidegger meant something like this. I know less about Foucault. The only person who comes to mind is Witt, maybe. The TLP seems to hint at the limits of abstraction.


Well, could not tell you about Heidegger. I doubt that the word "green" will ever be identical with the color. The map, however, will never be the territory except when it is the territory, and therefore, not the map
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 May, 2010 11:34 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;167562 wrote:
Well, could not tell you about Heidegger. I doubt that the word "green" will ever be identical with the color. The map, however, will never be the territory except when it is the territory, and therefore, not the map


If the territory is the "ineffable," and the map is our concepts of such, I agree.

On the other hand, I think that all of our abstractions exist as a system. So if we want to make a map of our conceptions of the world, the map is part of that territory, and the territory is part of the map. Hegel argued that being is reveal by discourse. And also that discourse is part of being. And this is why discourse must give an account of itself if it attempts an exhaustive description of being.

I've got to go. Good night, Ken. At least for now.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 06:22 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;167503 wrote:
I've lately been interested in what words do not seem able to manage. Qualia, for instance. We have a word for green, but this word cannot carry greeness to the blind, for instance. We have a word for "toothache," but this word cannot carry pain. We also have words like "love" which do not directly carry the experienced emotion to the other.

What can philosophy really say about such things? I'm quite aware that light can be abstractly described as EMR. What I'm looking at is the opposite of abstraction, that which slips through the mesh of language. Here I am using to language to point at what language cannot give us. Raw experience, sensation, emotion. Yes, our existence is largely conceptual but obviously largely sensation, desire, love, pain. I stress that I'm not looking for abstractions as to the causes of these but rather at their ineffability (in theory) as experiences, subjective experiences. The causal network of science is not important in this regard. Of course that is open to debate. .


I agree that there is a lived reality of first-person experience, which cannot be reduced to a verbal description. But it can be conveyed to another person who has similar experiences. In fact verbal communication relies very much on the fact that humans basically have a shared structure of experience. I remember Wittgenstein saying something along the lines of 'we would not understand a lion even if it could speak'. This is because a lion's 'embodied cognition' would be so radically different to a humans, I suppose.

But within this shared framework there are many degrees of meaning. As you have noted, with regards to colour sense, it is easy for me to understand what you say if you tell me 'your house is green', but if I was red-green colourblind, then it would not mean the same to me, exactly because I don't have the shared experience of green-ness. I suppose, to me, it would be that grey colour which I know that the non-color-blind see as one or the other.

But how do poets and novelists make a living? Surely it is because of their skill with words, the way they use words to make an audience see, feel, and understand things which they did not previously see, or which perhaps they didn't know they felt. After all if writers only conveyed what you already you know, there would be no art. So words can also be evocative, suggestive. (Sometimes you can convey a great deal by what is not said.)

But in this, surely, there is something far more significant at work than 'a word signifying a thing'. Again it is because of our shared experience that anything of this kind is meaningful at all. You can't reduce being in love to words, but those who have been in love might know what you mean if you use the right ones. Love songs and love stories, after all, are perennially popular, because so many of us know, or would like to know, how it feels. And this is how a skilled songwriter, who knows that feeling, is able to evoke it in others.

"Unless you feel it, I can't reveal it, you have to have it happen to you just to know how it feels" - Manhattan Transfer, Until I Met You, Mecca for Moderns.

Reconstructo;167503 wrote:
Are such experiences the foundation of our concept of the subject? Language is never private. But this ineffable seems essentially private.


But I don't know that 'ineffable' is a word that can be applied to experience generally. One can have 'experiences of something ineffable' - this is often said of spiritual experiences. But exactly because of the shared nature of our experience, our communications can often be very specific.

I agree that pain is irreducibly subjective - in other words, it is essential to the nature of pain that it is felt. (People do deny this, you know!) But though this or that pain is private, as all beings feel pain, then, as above, we know what someone means when they say they are in pain, even if at that moment we can't feel it ourselves.

All of this, though, pre-supposes the existence of those who feel pain, and suffer, and fall in love. And without those feelings, none of it would mean anything, or even exist. Which is why we are called beings.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 06:35 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;167565 wrote:
If the territory is the "ineffable," and the map is our concepts of such, I agree.

On the other hand, I think that all of our abstractions exist as a system. So if we want to make a map of our conceptions of the world, the map is part of that territory, and the territory is part of the map. Hegel argued that being is reveal by discourse. And also that discourse is part of being. And this is why discourse must give an account of itself if it attempts an exhaustive description of being.

I've got to go. Good night, Ken. At least for now.


We have the concept of the ineffable, but we have no concepts of such. If we did, they would not be ineffable.

---------- Post added 05-23-2010 at 08:52 AM ----------

jeeprs;167649 wrote:


But within this shared framework there are many degrees of meaning. As you have noted, with regards to colour sense, it is easy for me to understand what you say if you tell me 'your house is green', but if I was red-green colourblind, then it would not mean the same to me, exactly because I don't have the shared experience of green-ness.


You are assuming, along with Reconstructo, that the meaning of the term, "green" is an experience of some kind (shared or not). But that is not true. When I say that the grass is green I don't mean that when I look at grass (in the summertime) that I get the experience of greenness. You, and Reconstructo make the same mistake of confusing reference with meaning. You may explain the meaning of "green" by referring to the color of grass in the summertime to someone who does not know the meaning of "green", but that does not mean that is the meaning of the term "green". (It is very common is philosophy that those who disagree make the same error). Think of it this way, if the rule for the use of the term "green" were "use green' it to refer to an experience you share with Reconstructo when you both look at grass in the summertime" it would be impossible to know whether you were following that rule or not. And a rule which is such that it is impossible to know whether it is being followed is only a sham of a rule. (In the interests of full disclosure, this argument is Wittgenstein's famous argument about the beetle in the box, and the impossibility of a private language).
Soul Brother
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 06:58 am
@kennethamy,
Reconstructo;167524 wrote:
It's not about dust being raised, but rather that we too often forget, in my opinion, just how unexplained much of human experience remains, and perhaps always shall remain. I'm trying to point out the irreducible in experience.


Reconstructo;167540 wrote:
Yes, it is. But don't the abstract type sometimes forget the limit of their abstractions? Isn't the issue of qualia and private experience largely neglected? And yet this is what so much of life is made of. It's just hard to talk about, so we talk constantly with universalizing abstractions without remembering how ineffable human experience largely is.

For me, this is connect to the realization of how small any of our abstract systems are in relation to this ocean of ineffable experience. I think we tend to treat our fellow human cruelly precisely because certain abstractions fascinate us to the point where we don't see that our simplest experiences remain a mystery. We simply take this strange gift of life for granted. We chase these expensive things. We envy the enviable. Etc. We have more than we think we have, assuming we aren't starving.

That's the conceptual message, yes. Yes, it's simple and obvious. But does it keep us from our addictions to abstractions? From thinking we have actually explained the world with our abstract causal network? It's like what Witt said. Even if all the questions of science are answered, is that really all we want to know? Life is mysterious 24 hours a day, except we lose this mystery in abstractions. Which of course is necessary. But it's not always necessary.

Sartre calls it nausea, because his character in Nausea experiences the unpleasant side of it. Under the film of our abstractions is something beautiful and terrible. We walk the street and don't notice a thousand details. We go to art museums for aethetic experiences, although we immersed all the time in ineffable experience. I think modern man is largely lost in abstractions, in his symbols. His clothes, cars, etc., are as symbolic as they are sensual. He's caught in this symbolic-linguistic layer to the point where he becomes bored, in the midst of mystery. We take our lives for granted.


I think I know exactly what you mean By all this. I often ponder about the utter awe that is the mysteries of ineffable experience that the mind produces. For example how is it even possible that the mind can crate experience at all? By this I mean surely you might think that it is normal to to have experience, but it is not, think of a chair, sure it exists but it does not experience and it does not even know of its own existence, you might argue, of course not it is a chair and it does not have a brain to perceive its own existence, but how does this argument explain the fact that the chair and a brain are both made of the same stuff. Another example, people make simple reference to consciousness as being purely a product of the information processing capabilities of the biological computer that is the brain, but take a super computer that is capable of extremely simple logic operations that can compute by processing simple information in the form of binary digit codes, and by using variant combinations of just four extremely simple operations it is able to create extremely intricate and complex information such as mathematical equations, even life! Such computers like those at MIT can process information by using the the superposition of single particles (yes particles perform and not and, and copy!) and arrange them in a matter that enables them to compute, now such computers can far exceed the computational capabilities of a human brain but of course such computers have no consciousness or level of awareness whatsoever. But take the example of ASIMO, such a computer has great information processing power, and has all the means of perception to enable it to efficiently interact with humans and its environment and is even capable of autonomous decision making! but although it can autonomously think and perceive it has in no way any level of consciousness or awareness. So, how can the computational brain give rise consciousness and awareness? how can matter be conscious?

people live they're lives from day to day as if its normal, as if its nothing amazing, and they pay attention and are amazed by little things they experience in every day life that, but completely dismiss and pay no attention to the fact that these experiences, these things they do, are only a part of experience, in other words things that we see as fun and regard as worthwhile such as skydiving are acknowledged as amazing because of how thy make us feel good, but we totally miss the fact that it is not amazing because it feels good, what is amazing is that we feel anything at all. We see things as worth while only when they are fun and give us a sense of enjoyment but fully miss the point that these sensations are only part of the more amazing and inexplicable thing that we call experience.

We take for granted simple things like being aware and being able to contemplate, after all these are no ordinary nor simple things, when was the last time you knew of a rock or by that manner any chunk of matter being able to have any sort of experience let alone being able to contemplate?
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 07:05 am
@Soul Brother,
Soul Brother;167664 wrote:
I think I know exactly what you mean By all this. I often ponder about the utter awe that is the mysteries of ineffable experience that the mind produces. For example how is it even possible that the mind can crate experience at all? By this I mean surely you might think that it is normal to to have experience, but it is not, think of a chair, sure it exists but it does not experience and it does not even know of its own existence, you might argue, of course not it is a chair and it does not have a brain to perceive its own existence, but how does this argument explain the fact that the chair and a brain are both made of the same stuff. Another example, people make simple reference to consciousness as being purely a product of the information processing capabilities of the biological computer that is the brain, but take a super computer that is capable of extremely simple logic operations that can compute by processing simple information in the form of binary digit codes, and by using variant combinations of just four extremely simple operations it is able to create extremely intricate and complex information such as mathematical equations, even life! Such computers like those at MIT can process information by using the the superposition of single particles (yes particles perform and not and, and copy!) and arrange them in a matter that enables them to compute, now such computers can far exceed the computational capabilities of a human brain but of course such computers have no consciousness or level of awareness whatsoever. But take the example of ASIMO, such a computer has great information processing power, and has all the means of perception to enable it to efficiently interact with humans and its environment and is even capable of autonomous decision making! but although it can autonomously think and perceive it has in no way any level of consciousness or awareness. So, how can the computational brain give rise consciousness and awareness? how can matter be conscious?

people live they're lives from day to day as if its normal, as if its nothing amazing, and they pay attention and are amazed by little things they experience in every day life that, but completely dismiss and pay no attention to the fact that these experiences, these things they do, are only a part of experience, in other words things that we see as fun and regard as worthwhile such as skydiving are acknowledged as amazing because of how thy make us feel good, but we totally miss the fact that it is not amazing because it feels good, what is amazing is that we feel anything at all. We see things as worth while only when they are fun and give us a sense of enjoyment but fully miss the point that these sensations are only part of the more amazing and inexplicable thing that we call experience.

We take for granted simple things like being aware and being able to contemplate, after all these are no ordinary nor simple things, when was the last time you knew of a rock or by that manner any chunk of matter being able to have any sort of experience let alone being able to contemplate?


i guess all I can say is, "Wow!" and I am not sure I can even say that! (Although I did!).
0 Replies
 
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 08:22 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;167649 wrote:
I agree that there is a lived reality of first-person experience, which cannot be reduced to a verbal description. But it can be conveyed to another person who has similar experiences. In fact verbal communication relies very much on the fact that humans basically have a shared structure of experience. I remember Wittgenstein saying something along the lines of 'we would not understand a lion even if it could speak'. This is because a lion's 'embodied cognition' would be so radically different to a humans, I suppose.

Indeed. I'm not going the route of denying our ability to communicate. The stress here is on the potential mystery and beauty of our every moment, which is missed by us because of our absorption in abstractions. I love abstractions, of course.

---------- Post added 05-23-2010 at 09:27 PM ----------

jeeprs;167649 wrote:

But within this shared framework there are many degrees of meaning. As you have noted, with regards to colour sense, it is easy for me to understand what you say if you tell me 'your house is green', but if I was red-green colourblind, then it would not mean the same to me, exactly because I don't have the shared experience of green-ness. I suppose, to me, it would be that grey colour which I know that the non-color-blind see as one or the other.

But how do poets and novelists make a living? Surely it is because of their skill with words, the way they use words to make an audience see, feel, and understand things which they did not previously see, or which perhaps they didn't know they felt. After all if writers only conveyed what you already you know, there would be no art. So words can also be evocative, suggestive. (Sometimes you can convey a great deal by what is not said.)

But in this, surely, there is something far more significant at work than 'a word signifying a thing'. Again it is because of our shared experience that anything of this kind is meaningful at all. You can't reduce being in love to words, but those who have been in love might know what you mean if you use the right ones. Love songs and love stories, after all, are perennially popular, because so many of us know, or would like to know, how it feels. And this is how a skilled songwriter, who knows that feeling, is able to evoke it in others.

"Unless you feel it, I can't reveal it, you have to have it happen to you just to know how it feels" - Manhattan Transfer, Until I Met You, Mecca for Moderns.

Don't forget you are talking to someone whose ambition has largely been writing! Smile I'm not in the least unaware of the power of words. Quite the contrary. A good writer does much of his work with the sensual element, with the sound of words. Also, he or she uses images (objective correlatives). You mention music. Of course music is largely sensuous, ineffable. True, lyrics are often involved, but their melodies and timbres are experienced sensually and emotional. Both ineffable.
I feel that you are misunderstanding my purpose. But that's alright!:flowers:

---------- Post added 05-23-2010 at 09:33 PM ----------

jeeprs;167649 wrote:

But I don't know that 'ineffable' is a word that can be applied to experience generally. One can have 'experiences of something ineffable' - this is often said of spiritual experiences. But exactly because of the shared nature of our experience, our communications can often be very specific.

I agree that pain is irreducibly subjective - in other words, it is essential to the nature of pain that it is felt. (People do deny this, you know!) But though this or that pain is private, as all beings feel pain, then, as above, we know what someone means when they say they are in pain, even if at that moment we can't feel it ourselves.

All of this, though, pre-supposes the existence of those who feel pain, and suffer, and fall in love. And without those feelings, none of it would mean anything, or even exist. Which is why we are called beings.

Well, much of our existence is effable, and this would be Hegel's "real is rational," but much of it is not. Of course I am aware that "ineffable" is used in spiritual traditions, but indeed I am pointing out the ineffable in everyone's life. And it may be largely this ineffable sensation/emotion that founds our experience of being individual selves.

Of course I see your other points, and also that I'm not proposing anything radical. Not in the least. We all know it, and yet we take it for granted. The causal explanations of science do not reduce, unless we are hypnotized by mathematical patterns till the hot bath is just vibrating water molecules. But a hot bath is not just our abstractions concerning it. No pile of words, scientific or spiritual, can reduce our sensation and emotion. Or so it seems to me. No doubt, we value abstractions that help us live. I take a great pleasure in abstractions. But then that pleasure taken in abstractions is not the abstractions themselves. We feel. And yes we have learned words to relate these feelings. Still, how much more powerful the wail or the grimace compared to the telegram "I suffer."

---------- Post added 05-23-2010 at 09:36 PM ----------

Soul Brother;167664 wrote:

people live they're lives from day to day as if its normal, as if its nothing amazing, and they pay attention and are amazed by little things they experience in every day life that, but completely dismiss and pay no attention to the fact that these experiences, these things they do, are only a part of experience, in other words things that we see as fun and regard as worthwhile such as skydiving are acknowledged as amazing because of how thy make us feel good, but we totally miss the fact that it is not amazing because it feels good, what is amazing is that we feel anything at all. We see things as worth while only when they are fun and give us a sense of enjoyment but fully miss the point that these sensations are only part of the more amazing and inexplicable thing that we call experience.

We take for granted simple things like being aware and being able to contemplate, after all these are no ordinary nor simple things, when was the last time you knew of a rock or by that manner any chunk of matter being able to have any sort of experience let alone being able to contemplate?


Yes, this is the sort of thing I was pointing out. All life is a "miracle." Except miracle has associates with that which is out of the ordinary. Life is only ordinary when we are hypnotized by abstractions that suggest otherwise. It's a strange and beautiful thing...and also wretched agony too. When a leg is shot off. When cancer crowds the brain. Birth defects. Prodigies. Terror and wonder. Birth and death. All around us. The world is so fecund, so merciless. We are aware, alive, and so often we are somehow....bored.

:Glasses:
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 08:39 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;167657 wrote:

You are assuming, along with Reconstructo, that the meaning of the term, "green" is an experience of some kind (shared or not). But that is not true. When I say that the grass is green I don't mean that when I look at grass (in the summertime) that I get the experience of greenness. You, and Reconstructo make the same mistake of confusing reference with meaning. You may explain the meaning of "green" by referring to the color of grass in the summertime to someone who does not know the meaning of "green", but that does not mean that is the meaning of the term "green". (It is very common is philosophy that those who disagree make the same error). Think of it this way, if the rule for the use of the term "green" were "use green' it to refer to an experience you share with Reconstructo when you both look at grass in the summertime" it would be impossible to know whether you were following that rule or not. And a rule which is such that it is impossible to know whether it is being followed is only a sham of a rule. (In the interests of full disclosure, this argument is Wittgenstein's famous argument about the beetle in the box, and the impossibility of a private language).


Well, I've already said that we are dealing with the ineffable. So our language points as well as it can. There is no sure test, as far as I can tell, for "meaning." And the meaning of "meaning" isn't, in my mind, a simple matter. For practical purposes, we get along just fine. I think you are missing the emphasis here. My purpose at least is to talk about the experience of emotion and sensation. It's generally agreed upon that this emotion and sensation cannot be directly shared. One uses words learned within a social context as made of action as it is of speech. Indeed. This is not really a linguistics debate, in my mind. Smile
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 10:09 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;167882 wrote:
Well, I've already said that we are dealing with the ineffable. So our language points as well as it can. There is no sure test, as far as I can tell, for "meaning." And the meaning of "meaning" isn't, in my mind, a simple matter. For practical purposes, we get along just fine. I think you are missing the emphasis here. My purpose at least is to talk about the experience of emotion and sensation. It's generally agreed upon that this emotion and sensation cannot be directly shared. One uses words learned within a social context as made of action as it is of speech. Indeed. This is not really a linguistics debate, in my mind. Smile


The meaning of the term "green" is not a sensation in anyone's head. It is the color of grass in the summertime, and that is not a sensation in anyone's head. Can we at least agree on that? There is nothing ineffable about the color of grass. We talk about it all the time. Yes, my itch is my itch, and your itch is your itch. We cannot share itches. There are no itches in common the way there are books in common (we can share the same copy of a book). But when we have said that, what then? I can describe what my particular itch feels like, although, for obvious reasons, our vocabulary in this area is not very rich. Not as rich, say, as a wine taster's vocabulary. "A slight hint of sage mixed with parsley. I like its presumption". The wine taster can do a much better job or sharing his tastes with others. Of course, the wine-taster cannot produce in others the taste he has in his mouth. Is this what you mean by his taste being ineffable? For, as I have just pointed out, it is pretty effable if the wine taster makes an effort.
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 10:38 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;167942 wrote:
Of course, the wine-taster cannot produce in others the taste he has in his mouth. Is this what you mean by his taste being ineffable?

Yes. And if he speaks of it, he must depend on others having had similar experiences associated with similar words in order to be understood.

But the central point is that the descriptions are not what they describe. This is where I strongly agree that the map is not the territory. This sensual-emotional territory is referred to on the map, but does not exist in the same way that the map does. Concept is one thing. The sensual/emotional is another. Yes, they are related. But I think they are different. We easily ignore this because we are social beings, often immersed in our abstractions.
 

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