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Re: THEORY: Are commands to believe infelicitous?

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Friday, May 27, 2005, 19:38
On Thursday, May 26, 2005, at 01:52 , Tom Chappell wrote:

> I propose that any imperative form of the verb "to believe" is > infelicitous unless spoken to a computer. 
Eh? How on earth can a computer believe? I fail to see how concepts like belief or disbelief have any relevance to a machine. Belief surely implies an act of rational will and of faith. Machines AFAIK have neither. A computer can merely hold a database or knowledge where certain facts have been asserted as true or false by some _human_; and these facts have no in themselves no meaning unless there is some human made program that can manipulated as though these facts are true or false. It all depends upon human input & human devised programs. It is IMO infelicitous to apply the verb "believe" or terms like "faith" to computers. =============================================== On Friday, May 27, 2005, at 04:08 , Herman Miller wrote:
> Joseph Bridwell wrote:
>> I believe that the average man on the street does indeed "believe" >> regardless of contrary evidence or absence of evidence.
Yes, so do I.
>> I myself do: >> I choose to believe that consciousness survives death since to >> believe otherwise implies to me meaninglessness to my actions past, >> present and future. Thus, for me, "believe" and "need" have a closer >> connection; and further, that solid evidence changes belief into >> fact for whomever accepts the evidence. > > I think you're on to something; anything for which it's not yet possible > to find any evidence for one way or the other is something that one can > choose to believe or not to believe.
Yes - I am not sure I would stress need so much as "trust" and "faith". I do have a need to make sense, as far as any human can reasonably hope to make sense, of the vast universe in which we find ourselves. I too have a belief in life after death because it is part of a coherent set of beliefs which seem to me to make sense of things.
> Some people also seem to have the > capacity to ignore evidence that would (if accepted) require them to > question their beliefs.
Yes, I have come across such people who willfully such their minds to such evidence.
> But there are some things that have to be > accepted as axiomatic, such as whether or not there is such a thing as > free will, since no one yet knows how to test these ideas. I choose to > believe in free will since it makes things more interesting to think > about, and I can't see how I have much to lose if I turn out to be > wrong. (If there is no free will, choice is an illusion in any case.)
> Whether consciousness survives death is an idea that could in principle > be tested, if it's possible for disembodied spirits to leave messages. > Alternatively, if spirits are reincarnated, memories of previous lives > would be evidence for survival.
Yes, these methods have been tried and some people claim results. But it has to be accepted such results do not stand up to the rigors demanded by scientific proof.
> However, it's always possible that > spirits can never go back to our world or affect it in any meaningful > way, so the absence of convincing evidence doesn't mean anything one way > or the other.
> But besides evidence as a basis for belief, there is also trust.
Absolutely! trust and faith. The words for belief & trust are related in some languages.
> Whenever someone says something like "believe me, running a marathon is > strenuous", it seems like they're really asking you to trust them based > on their personal experience or observation.
Quite so. Belief is surely an act of will. I can conclude - possibly mistakenly - that this person is trustworthy & is not lying to me, therefore I will to believe her/him. =============================================== On Thursday, May 26, 2005, at 09:09 , David J. Peterson wrote:
> Tom wrote: > << > Does anyone know of various ways various languages have handled > different versions of ideas similar to "to choose to believe"? > Perhaps by different voices (middle voice maybe), different moods, > or just different verbs? > >> > > Embedded in this is actually another question: How do other > languages (nat and con) handle the idea of believing? I somehow > doubt that it'll always map one-to-one, the way it (presumably) > does in, say, English and Spanish.
I doubt it also. To explain Tom, it is simply that a word like 'believe', which does not have one simple meaning in English but a range of related meanings, some in which the verb is transitive, and some in which it is intransitive & requires a prepositional phrase to complete its meaning, is unlikely to map one-to-one in other languages. What David is saying is that it would be interesting to look at the range of related meanings attaching to the 'belief' words in (some) other natlangs and conlangs. ======================================================== On Friday, May 27, 2005, at 04:07 , tomhchappell wrote:
> --- In, Joseph Bridwell <zhosh@2...> wrote:
>>> How is the commandment to believe, and/or >>> the choice to believe, handled in various >>> languages? How SHOULD it be handled in a >>> conlang? >> >> Should? However the creator of that conlang choses. Do you >> mean "might"? > > I guess I meant "what would be the best way?"
But that surely depends upon the type of conlang that is being constructed & _why_ it is being constructed. There cannot be *the* best way for conlangs generally. It must surely be, as Joseph says, however the creator of the conlang chooses.
> By "best" I guess I > would have meant "most productive of new ideas, variations, > situations, etc. for fiction and/or role-play".
Yes, but not all conlangs are constructed for fiction or role-play, any more than all conlangs are constructed as international auxiliary languages. I imagine these srt of questions must have occurred to loglangers. It might be instructive to see how 'belief' ideas are handled in Lojban. Ray =============================================== =============================================== "A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760


tomhchappell <tomhchappell@...>