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# usage cannot capture meaning.

Sun 21 Mar, 2010 06:32 am
It is not clear the ontological status of meaning. Think of what it means for the word 'plus'. If the word 'plus' is the same as '+', one question to ask is how a person come to learn the meaning of plus? I know someone teach the meaning to you, but the deeper question is how this process is possible at all. When you are a child, someone had to teach you "1+1=2", "2+3=5" etc. There are infinity many arithmetic statements with the symbol '+'. You can only read, and memories finite many of these statements. This means that there are infinite many arithmetic statements concerning '+" that you never saw, or learn about. How is it possible you are able to learn what '+' mean? The second problem of leaning the meaning of an expression is knowing the correct application of the expression. So if an agent A is correct in applying X to situation S. There are again potentially infinite many situations for A to apply X correctly. You can only observe finite many situations for some agent to apply X correctly. Thus, there are potentially infinite many situations that you have not learn how to apply X correctly.

One possible solution is to say you just don` t know what the word 'plus' mean. This seems counterintuitive, but why must something true be intuitive anyway?

The second possible solution is more mystical. There are these crazy spirit like things called meaning that do not take any space, or time. We know what 'plus' mean in a similar way that we know mathematical objects exist.

reference:

Rule-following and meaning - Google Books

Ludwig Wittgenstein (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

MindPapers: 2.5c. Rule-Following
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kennethamy

1
Sun 21 Mar, 2010 06:50 am
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent;141850 wrote:
It is not clear the ontological status of meaning. Think of what it means for the word 'plus'. If the word 'plus' is the same as '+', one question to ask is how a person come to learn the meaning of plus? I know someone teach the meaning to you, but the deeper question is how this process is possible at all. When you are a child, someone had to teach you "1+1=2", "2+3=5" etc. There are infinity many arithmetic statements with the symbol '+'. You can only read, and memories finite many of these statements. This means that there are infinite many arithmetic statements concerning '+" that you never saw, or learn about. How is it possible you are able to learn what '+' mean? The second problem of leaning the meaning of an expression is knowing the correct application of the expression. So if an agent A is correct in applying X to situation S. There are again potentially infinite many situations for A to apply X correctly. You can only observe finite many situations for some agent to apply X correctly. Thus, there are potentially infinite many situations that you have not learn how to apply X correctly.

One possible solution is to say you just don` t know what the word 'plus' mean. This seems counterintuitive, but why must something true be intuitive anyway?

The second possible solution is more mystical. There are these crazy spirit like things called meaning that do not take any space, or time. We know what 'plus' mean in a similar way that we know mathematical objects exist.

Very Quinian. But I don't think that when Quine is dubious about the ontological status of meanings (one of the "creatures of darkness") he wants to deny that we don't know the meanings of terms in the ordinary way.
jgweed

1
Sun 21 Mar, 2010 07:45 am
@TuringEquivalent,
We learn the meaning of words by learning to use them correctly. This can mean my pointing to an object and saying the name over and over again, this can mean looking the word up in a dictionary and deciding from the context the meaning, this can mean being able to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate areas of discourse, and so on.
Night Ripper

1
Sun 21 Mar, 2010 08:03 am
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent;141850 wrote:
It is not clear the ontological status of meaning. Think of what it means for the word 'plus'. If the word 'plus' is the same as '+', one question to ask is how a person come to learn the meaning of plus? I know someone teach the meaning to you, but the deeper question is how this process is possible at all. When you are a child, someone had to teach you "1+1=2", "2+3=5" etc. There are infinity many arithmetic statements with the symbol '+'. You can only read, and memories finite many of these statements. This means that there are infinite many arithmetic statements concerning '+" that you never saw, or learn about.

Once you understand the concept of +, you don't need to see every arithmetic statement. There's no qualitative difference between 1+1 and 2+2. It's adding two units together. There's nothing extra you could learn.

Concepts are abstract objects. They aren't real. They are heuristically compiled from interactions with our environment. You learn + by watching how + is used to do math. Then you suddenly "get it" by realizing what + means. From that point on you can apply what you've learned to any string of digits.
kennethamy

1
Sun 21 Mar, 2010 08:10 am
@Night Ripper,
Night Ripper;141870 wrote:
Once you understand the concept of +, you don't need to see every arithmetic statement. There's no qualitative difference between 1+1 and 2+2. It's adding two units together. There's nothing extra you could learn.

Concepts are abstract objects. They aren't real. They are heuristically compiled from interactions with our environment. You learn + by watching how + is used to do math. Then you suddenly "get it" by realizing what + means. From that point on you can apply what you've learned to any string of digits.

Why should not concepts be real objects. They are not imaginary, are they?
Night Ripper

1
Sun 21 Mar, 2010 08:18 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;141873 wrote:
Why should not concepts be real objects. They are not imaginary, are they?

Object of the mind - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Quote:
An object of the mind is an object which exists in the imagination, but can only be represented or modeled in the real world. Some such objects are mathematical abstractions, literary concepts, or fictional scenarios.
kennethamy

1
Sun 21 Mar, 2010 08:23 am
@Night Ripper,

I only imagine I have the concept of a dog? I thought I did. Shows how mistaken you can be about what is going on in your own head.
Night Ripper

1
Sun 21 Mar, 2010 08:30 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;141879 wrote:
I only imagine I have the concept of a dog? I thought I did.

Imagining the concept of a dog is having the concept of a dog. That doesn't make it real though. That's reification.
kennethamy

1
Sun 21 Mar, 2010 09:00 am
@Night Ripper,
Night Ripper;141881 wrote:
Imagining the concept of a dog is having the concept of a dog. That doesn't make it real though. That's reification.

Imagining that I have the concept of a dog is having the concept of a dog? Suppose I imagine I have the concept of relativity theory. Does that mean I have the concept of relativity theory?
TuringEquivalent

1
Sun 21 Mar, 2010 09:24 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;141866 wrote:
We learn the meaning of words by learning to use them correctly. This can mean my pointing to an object and saying the name over and over again, this can mean looking the word up in a dictionary and deciding from the context the meaning, this can mean being able to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate areas of discourse, and so on.

This is not about leaning the names of something.

---------- Post added 03-21-2010 at 10:27 AM ----------

Night Ripper;141870 wrote:
Once you understand the concept of +, you don't need to see every arithmetic statement..

You are not seeing the bigger picture. The deeper issue is how we come to learn the meaning of a rule in the first place.
Night Ripper

1
Sun 21 Mar, 2010 09:34 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;141889 wrote:
Imagining that I have the concept of a dog is having the concept of a dog?

No, that's not what I wrote. Read what I wrote again.

Quote:
Imagining the concept of a dog is having the concept of a dog.
Do you understand the difference?
TuringEquivalent

1
Sun 21 Mar, 2010 09:35 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;141852 wrote:
Very Quinian. But I don't think that when Quine is dubious about the ontological status of meanings (one of the "creatures of darkness") he wants to deny that we don't know the meanings of terms in the ordinary way.

If meaning is more than usage, then this is a metaphysical claim. I don ` t know what your "ordinary way" is suppose to mean.
0 Replies

Ahab

1
Sun 21 Mar, 2010 10:32 am
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent;141897 wrote:
This is not about leaning the names of something.

---------- Post added 03-21-2010 at 10:27 AM ----------

You are not seeing the bigger picture. The deeper issue is how we come to learn the meaning of a rule in the first place.

The meaning of a word is given by an explanation of meaning and an explanation of meaning is a rule for the use of a word.

Not sure what you mean by 'learn the meaning of a rule'.

---------- Post added 03-21-2010 at 09:38 AM ----------

Night Ripper;141881 wrote:
Imagining the concept of a dog is having the concept of a dog. That doesn't make it real though. That's reification.

Do you mean thinking about the concept of a dog when you say 'imagining the concept of a dog'?
0 Replies

kennethamy

1
Sun 21 Mar, 2010 01:22 pm
@Night Ripper,
Night Ripper;141899 wrote:
No, that's not what I wrote. Read what I wrote again.

Do you understand the difference?

Sure. You can imagine you have the concept, and not have it. But you cannot have the concept and not have it.
Night Ripper

1
Sun 21 Mar, 2010 02:24 pm
@kennethamy,
I'm talking about imagining a concept and you're talking about imagining that you have a concept. That's two different things.
kennethamy

1
Sun 21 Mar, 2010 03:49 pm
@Night Ripper,
Night Ripper;141964 wrote:
I'm talking about imagining a concept and you're talking about imagining that you have a concept. That's two different things.

What on Earth does "imagining a concept" mean?
Night Ripper

1
Sun 21 Mar, 2010 04:18 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;141990 wrote:
What on Earth does "imagining a concept" mean?

I don't feel the need to explain something that obvious.
Ahab

1
Sun 21 Mar, 2010 04:23 pm
@Night Ripper,
Night Ripper;142001 wrote:
I don't feel the need to explain something that obvious.

It is not at all obvious what you mean. What is "imagining a concept"?
Night Ripper

1
Sun 21 Mar, 2010 04:36 pm
@Ahab,
Ahab;142004 wrote:
It is not at all obvious what you mean. What is "imagining a concept"?

Have you never seen that string of words before? Imagine the concept of a chair. Imagine the concept of tennis. How hard is that?
Ahab

1
Sun 21 Mar, 2010 05:00 pm
@Night Ripper,
Night Ripper;142009 wrote:
Have you never seen that string of words before? Imagine the concept of a chair. Imagine the concept of tennis. How hard is that?

No, I've never heard anyone say they were imagining a concept before now.
I can think about the concept of a chair. And I can think about the concept of tennis. Is that what you mean?

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