2
   

What is the meaning of thing?

 
 
JPhil
 
Reply Sat 26 Feb, 2011 01:04 pm
When we use the word thing, we seem to use it as a variable, a place holder for another word we want to use. But there seems to not be a meaning of thing. Well of the meanings I've read are for one seems to be circular. Like, "Whatever exist", but this is the same as saying Something that exist" or an "Entity, idea, or thought that exists" but these are still "Somethings." So what is a thing?
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Question • Score: 2 • Views: 2,508 • Replies: 27
No top replies

 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Feb, 2011 04:56 pm
@JPhil,
http://able2know.org/topic/159142-1
JPhil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2011 11:00 pm
@fresco,
Well, that still doesn't really answer my question. I mean, through out the post all you spoke of was the existence of things. What I'm asking is what is this thing? We use the word thing to describe our world, our existence. This simple word seems to be everywhere but we use it as a word that everyone seems to be familiar with. But ask them," What is thing sir,ma'am"? and they may point and say, "This is a thing or that is a thing." But ask them to describe the word, not give an example. What is thing?
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2011 01:13 am
@JPhil,
You want a definition ? I would say it is "node" of common reference in a communicative exchange denoted by a linguistic token. Following Wittgenstein, "meaning is usage", hence the meaning of that linguistic token depends on the particular usage associated with specific exchanges. For example the word "ball" can token an object (not necessarily spherical) used in a game, a dance, etc as required by context. The "persistence of the thing" is relative to its "fitness for use", thus a punctured football ceases its qualify as "a thing which is a ball".
The fact that the word persists wrongly implies that the "thing" persists. Thingness lies in in the eye/need of observers. No observer=no thing.
JPhil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2011 09:05 am
@fresco,
Understandable. But there is a meaning of ball: Something to be used in a game, a type of dance event,etc. But what I'm saying what do we mean when we say "thing"? We say" There is something" or "this is something" But ask your self the meaning of something and go in succession until you get to the root, which is thing. For example: What is a foot? A thing we use to walk with. What is thing?(hmm..) What is a computer? Something we use for fun, for information, etc. What is something?(hmm..) This is what I mean, is this basic...umm..thing.. we are talking about?
fresco
 
  2  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2011 10:15 am
@JPhil,
Thingness=functionality. The fact that we may not be able to name an item and use "thing" as a catch-all marker is irrelevant. Naming sets up expectancies of function.

Benjamin Lee-Whorf was an insurance investigator turned linguist when he noticed that explosions were occurring in "empty" gas can dumps. He realised that "empty" aka "nothing in can" gave the expectancy of "safety". The fact was that the cans were empty of liquid, but still contained vapour. (This led to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis that language determines thought)
JPhil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2011 05:58 pm
@fresco,
Yes, but thing is a general term. Even if it is meant for naming or describing, there still must be a way to describe it. For example: We may say "she looks beautiful" Beautiful describes the girl, but what describes beautiful? Now that I think about it, words like "Beautiful" and "thing" seem to have no meaning. We use them to describe our world and use them for the intensity of our conversations. But the root of our conversations of which all of it stands on seem to be meaningless.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2011 06:26 pm
@JPhil,
Your conclusion rests on confining your interpretation of "meaning" to representation. Philosophy of language has shifted away from an atomistic correspondence view to a holistic coherence view. (see Quine on semantic holism, or see Von Glasersfeld on Vorstellung versus Darstellung...representation versus re -presentation)
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Mar, 2011 01:32 am
@JPhil,
Further to the above, you might also look at Maturana's views on "languaging" as complex mode of behaviour of living systems. From his point of view "meaning" boils down to an aspect of "structural coupling", or less cryptically, an aspect of successful mutual interaction. Again, we have no concept of words as representations of ontic objects (things).
JPhil
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Mar, 2011 11:39 pm
@fresco,
Hmm..so I guess when we see something we just give it a name and go with it. So we don't think about the word we're using when we talk but what the word is describing for us, to get out point across. So then words are meaningless until they are given something to describe. Then the word "thing" has no meaning on its own, but when used in context it means something. For example, "This thing in my hand" whatever is in my hand gives meaning to the word thing, at that time. It could be a vase, then thing is a vase at that time. Yet even the word vase is meaningless unless given something that it describes.Even when given the definition, the words that make it up are also meaningless, unless given something to describe. If someone gave me the definition to vase, and I never seen one, I would have no idea to what it is until I see it. Then the words of the definition make sense, but only after I see what they're describing.So all words are meaningless on their own until we se what they're describing.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Mar, 2011 02:19 am
@JPhil,
That's almost right, but you always "have an idea" even if hazy. (A young child may call all men "daddy"), Vision is not "the key" although it is an important one..Context is essentially inter-actional involving all the senses plus memories plus expectancies. Language is acquired in social contexts which accompany sensual inter-action. It is then used within "thought" to re-present memories or create expectancies. There are no "correct" meanings in their own right, just like there are no "things" in their own right. Both involve social interaction and negotiated agreement. (Wittgenstein...the impossibility of private language)
JPhil
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Mar, 2011 07:33 pm
@fresco,
So then all words are meaningless on their own, but when given something( that we can see) that it describes, it has meaning. I would go even further to say that all actions are meaningless as well until given direction. Take walking for instance, unless given somewhere to walk the act, walking, is pointless.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 Mar, 2011 12:25 am
@JPhil,
The idea of "purpose" is anthropocentric. You end up looking for "the purpose of life" or "the purpose of the universe". Your train of thought is the inverse of what has happened in philosophy where these "big questions" have been analysed as "language questions". (See for example Rorty "Philosophy and the Mirror of Reality")
JPhil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 Mar, 2011 08:40 am
@fresco,
Well not really, I'm not thinking of just humans but of any being or thing that exist. What is the point of its actions if there is no aim. It's like, lets say I have a child just to have a child, then what? I have child and that's it. Not for support, not for comfort, only to have a child to say I have one. Does it make me happy? doesn't matter, I don't care, I just wanted a child for the sake of doing so. See without aim in any action, an action as serious as this seems pointless or stupid.Or take the world or universe, its here, now what? If there is no aim at what its use is for then the world/universe is pointless and all things that live in it are pointless, useless, living for naught.


Going back to the word "thing."I believe there has to be a set definition for the word "thing" or all our words are meaningless. For example, if you tell a child to observe something and they ask you" What is it?" you would use the word thing in your description because the child is ignorant, but if the child ask "What is thing?" or even more naively "What is an it?" then we wouldn't be able to answer because for now we have no definition. And I don't mean just the English word for "thing" but of any language which has a common base word, for lack of another term. See the aim of all our words are to describe something and they are also used to describe other words but the word "thing" cannot be described by other words but only by observation. This means there is no set definition, if there was then we could describe it using other terms.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 Mar, 2011 11:31 am
@JPhil,
I cannot comment further on your circular reasoning. I suggest you try to follow up the suggested references .

Regards fresco.
JPhil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 Mar, 2011 04:53 pm
@fresco,
Ok well thank you for your help.
0 Replies
 
Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 Mar, 2011 04:56 pm
Seasame Street said it best... One of these things is not like the other.
realist phil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 Mar, 2011 06:36 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

No observer=no thing.

If there were no humans, would there be no things?
0 Replies
 
realist phil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 Mar, 2011 06:43 pm
@Ceili,
Ceili wrote:

Seasame Street said it best... One of these things is not like the other.

Interesting and true!
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 Mar, 2011 07:24 pm
@JPhil,
That which can perform, or is performing...capable of function...operator.
 

Related Topics

How can we be sure? - Discussion by Raishu-tensho
DOES NOTHING EXIST??? - Question by mark noble
Proof of nonexistence of free will - Discussion by litewave
morals and ethics, how are they different? - Question by existential potential
Destroy My Belief System, Please! - Discussion by Thomas
Star Wars in Philosophy. - Discussion by Logicus
Existence of Everything. - Discussion by Logicus
Is it better to be feared or loved? - Discussion by Black King
 
  1. Forums
  2. » What is the meaning of thing?
Copyright © 2018 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.04 seconds on 07/21/2018 at 01:16:39