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Re: CHAT reality (was: Number/Specificality/Archetypes in Language)

From:Philippe Caquant <herodote92@...>
Date:Monday, September 27, 2004, 7:54
 --- Ray Brown <ray.brown@...> skrev:
> On Saturday, September 25, 2004, at 07:35 , Philippe > Caquant wrote: > > > --- Ray Brown <ray.brown@...> skrev: > > > >> > >> To be quite frank, _ordinary people_ consider > things > >> differently even now! > >> Most people, for example, would say that a > horse > >> is real and a unicorn is > >> not. > > > > Hmmm again... Consider how many people believe in > > astrology, horoscopes, homeopathy, religions... > > Well? So what? > > The fact that some people consider astrology to be > true and others > consider it to be false has no bearing upon > _objective_ truth or reality.
That's what I meant. What is the difference between believing in a green unicorn with pink dots on it and believing that 77 virgins (is it 77, or just 70 ?) are waiting for you in Paradise ?
> Also, of course, the mere fact that i can say I > consider astrology to be > false and another person can say it is true means > that both I and that > other person do give meaning to the concepts "real" > and "unreal". > > It is no so very long ago that you berated people > like me and Keith as > some sort of freekish 'geeks' and pointed out that > you were an ordinary > human being. Well, I maintain that 'reality' does > have a meaning for most > 'ordinary human beings' (whether an individual human > being's concept of > 'reality' is true, only partly true or, indeed, > downright false is quite > beside the point). > > If 'reality' means nothing to you, so be it.
Well, indeed, it does not mean much to me. But that's every single person's problem.
> I understood that a > solipsists held his/her self, even if everything > else is a mere figment of > his/her imagination. But if reality means nothing to > you, I suppose the > corollary is that unreality means nothing which, I > guess, means you cannot > be certain whether anything including yourself > exists or be certain that > anything including yourself does not exist.
It's not exactly that. I don't mean that we cannot be certain of the answer to some questions, I just mean that the question might be absurd. This is something I was thinking about for some time, starting from the famous ternary distinction Yes / No / Null. Usually, this is the best you can expect when you have to fill a public opinion enquiry. Questions look like: "Do you think that (blablabla) ?". Possible answers are often: Yes or No, or, at best: Yes / No / Doesn't know (or: won't answer). But I want to have the possibility to give such answers as: - 7,5 on a scale from 0 to 10 - I don't know - in some cases, yes, in other cases, no - I refuse to answer this question (it's no matter of yours, for ex) - This question I find absurd, so any answer would be absurd too - This question is not decidable at the moment (but it might be some day) - This question will never be decidable - etc. The only reason why the proposed answers are : Yes/No, or Yes/No/Doesn't know, is that it is easier to process, especially on computers. But are the collected answers worth anything ? What has this to do with conlangs ? Well, such distinctions could be implemented in conlangs too. For ex, one could have special words for them, or even grammatical marks.
> > So be it. But I do have a notion that some things > are real and others not > (and some may or may not be - I simply do not have > sufficient information) > ; and I can assure you that in the 65+ years I have > existed (I think) on > this planet, my experience has been that practically > everyone else I have > met also has a notion of what is real and what is > unreal.
Yes, that's what I mean: that reality is what your own brain considers as reasonably real, at the moment. Actually, it's only a hypothesis. If you accept the hypothesis, than you can make some deductions. If the hypothesis, for any reason, doesn't hold any more, than everything collapses. If two parallel lines suddenly decide to meet somewhere, try to imagine the consequences.
> [snip] > >> Plato's conceptions might be more apt. It will be > >> found that no single > >> coherent system can be constructed from his > >> writings. > > > > What strikes me when reading Ancient Greeks, and > even > > philosophical literature up to, say, XVIIIth > century, > > is the terrible lack for methodology. > > Oh - in what way did Plato lack methodology?
Not especially Plato. But here we're getting to far and leaving conlang territories :-)
> [snip] > > "metalanguage /'meEt@%l&ngwIdZ/ _n_ A language which > is used to talk about > another language, the _object language_. A > metalanguage may be either a > natural language or a formal language; the same is > true of an object > language. it is very common in linguistics to use a > natural language, such > as English, as a metalanguage to talk about the same > language as an object > language; when this is done, it is essential to > distinguish the two > clearly to avoid confusion. This is conventionally > done by typographical > means, such as by citing object language forms in > italics or in inverted > commas: compare _Men are beasts_ with _'Men' is an > irregular plural_." > [Trask]
Right, although it is not always the case. But such conventions are only efficient in case everybody agrees about the concepts we're talking about, for ex in the case you mention. But in a philosopher's work, or even in some linguists' work, there are words used by the author carrying a personal meaning, which is not always clearly explained (or sometimes explained somewhere, but you cannot find where, so the result is the same).
> > and the real meaning the words used by the author > are > > suppose to carry. > > But how can you talk about 'the real meaning the > words...are supposed to > carry' is, as you say, 'reality' has no meaning for > you? >
Nono, that's a sophism. I meant the exact concept the author had in mind. Whether it actually matches some reality or not has nothing to do here. To take a trivial and caricatural example, if some French author talks me about "dames", I want to know very precisely at any time: is he talking about ladies, or about checkers ? So I propose to write *dames when talking about checkers, the symbol "*" referring to some URL where the definition of "dames=checkers" would be clearly explained. Of course, if the whole book is about checkers, then we could use the opposite convention: *dames = ladies. It's just a convention to be mentioned at the head of the book.
> [snip] > > > meaning would not be prefixed. Imagine how much > time > > we would spare instead of arguing about what the > > author really meant ! > > No, I cannot imagine it. The simple fact of life is > that language changes, > whether we like it or not, and so also do people's > perceptions of the > world change as knowledge advances. That's life in > this changing world!
Precisely. That's why it is so difficult for us to understand what the Greek philosophers, for ex, had really in mind. If they had given accurate definitions on URLs, or even on carved stones, and had referred to them, everything would be much easier for us. We could agree with them or not, or we could think that their conceptions are outdated, but at least we would not get them wrong and lose our time discussing what they never meant. ===== Philippe Caquant Ceterum censeo *vi* esse oblitterandum (Me).


Rodlox <rodlox@...>