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Re: The Very Very First Sentence

From:Philippe Caquant <herodote92@...>
Date:Saturday, February 14, 2004, 16:10
I think I didn't explain the idea quite clearly. I'm
not fancying about hypothetical SF worlds, but about
our own world and concepts. I'm trying to imagine:
what will happen if we substract such or such concept
from our language ? Will there still be a world we can
talk about ? What are the central, primitive concepts,
and how do more complex concepts organize around that
primitive core ?

Look at Euclidian geometry for instance. This may be
considered as a world of its own. This world is a
plane. The concepts in it are: line, point, segment,
angle, triangle, square, hexagon, circle, etc. It
includes measurement. It includes rules (theorems and
so on), that means that it is based on logic. But
there is nothing physical, and even less alive, in it.
A triangle weighs nothing, you can't touch it, grasp
it nor feel it (I'm not talking about the musical
instrument of course). There is no colour nor sound in
geometry, although we can imagine a 'geometrical+'
world including these notions.

So an Euclidian geometrical world can be described and
referred to with a subset of our usual languages, and
it has to include logical, mathematic and spatial
concepts (but time is not necessary). Now when you
come back to a physical, 3-d world, then you must have
all the logical and 2-d geometrical concepts at hand,
plus the 3-d ones, plus the physical ones (including
material, energy, and time). If you want to be able to
talk about plants and animals too, you need the 'life'
and 'animated' concepts. If you want to talk about a
human world, you need more biological concepts, but
also social ones, like 'buying / selling' for ex, or
'marriage', or 'slavery' - these last ones not
necessarily associated :-) and also the whole domain
of artifacts, and religion, and science, and
ideology... and language, of course. The most complex
world we can imagine would probably be the world of
language, because we have to work out a meta-language
to talk about language.

There are qualitative leaps between all these
successive worlds. Jumping from a physical, inanimated
world, into a world including life, brings up all at
once plenty of new concepts. The same between animal
and human worlds. Etc.

There already exist some languages made for talking to
robots. In such languages you can express phrases like
: Move the blue cube from under the yellow
parallelepiped and put in on the pile of green cubes
besides, ok, that's a nice boy, and now how many cubes
are they on the pile ? Three, and how many were they
before ? Two, that's right, ok, go back to sleep, over
(well, it's something like that). Such languages are a
subset of common language. They include some kinds of
concepts, and they ignore others. I believe that the
more complex concepts we use are an aggregate of such
simple complexes, made by adding successive layers, or
rather, successive molecules of meaning to the core
ones, very similarly to complex organic molecules made
out of simple elements like Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen,
Nitrogen, plus some Sulphur and other tasty
ingredients (the result being probably ketchup).

It looks like Logic is very close to the core of
Meaning, but Logic itself uses even more primitive
concepts, we could call Primitive Intuitions, because
we cannot define them without using more complex
terms. Space, Time, Existence, Difference, Entity,
Relation, Polarity, Orientation, Abstract Property,
are some of them.

NB. Time is indeed uni-directional, but we can as well
remember the past as imagine the future. In fact, we
use what we know about the past to try to make the
future resembling what we would it to be. But suppose
we had no idea of future at all ? We could only
contemplate the Past, sitting with our backs to the
Future, not making any plans nor projects, even at
very short date. Is this the case for animals ? Would
be even more strange to consider only the Future and
forgetting everything we experienced immediately.
Would that be conceivable ?

--- "H. S. Teoh" <hsteoh@...> wrote:
> To me, anything geometric is physical by definition. > Of course, it may > inhabit a world with absolutely bizarre physics,[**] > but nevertheless > still physical. >
> > AFAIK, time in our universe is pretty much > uni-directional. :-) > > > Although you could get an interesting perspective if > you looked at > space-time as an outside observer: there would be no > future and no past in > your reference frame, history is just laid out > before you in its entirety. > You would not be constrained to experience events > chronologically; you > could simply look at the end and the beginning > whenever you wanted to, and > explore space-time in any manner you wish. >
===== Philippe Caquant "Le langage est source de malentendus." (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) __________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! Finance: Get your refund fast by filing online.