back to the beginning: the limitations of language

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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Sat Nov 07, 2020 9:25 pm

Rules, Language & Reality
George Wrisley considers how some of Wittgenstein’s later ideas on language relate to reality.

In Section 373 of the Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein writes, “Grammar tells what kind of object anything is.” However, it is unclear how strong we should understand the arbitrariness of grammar to be in this context, and how much it is we and not the world who determine what objects there are.


I honestly wish someone could explain to me what he means by grammar here. And, as well, the rules of grammar. Grammar it would seem is comprised of words put in a specific order in order to convey to others some particular aspect of some particular object. There are things that the words, even if "botched" in the manner in which I understand the rules of grammar, can communicate to others such that the words convey facts about the object that all reasonable men and women would be obligated to concur regarding. Where is grammar arbitrary here? We can determine what a hammer is because we invented it...and the words used to communicate things about it that "for all practical purposes" becomes a part of the world around us that involves hammers.

Does it somehow mean that what exists is dependent on our language so that without language and thus without us there would be no shape to the world? This seems unlikely.


Unlikely? It seems ridiculous. Unless of course one tries to imagine the "shape of the world" in a world where there is no language because there are no creatures around able to invent it. If the human species is the only language using creatures in the entire universe and tomorrow the Really Big One strikes the planet wiping out all human life what of the "shape of the world" then? But what role does Wittgenstein's grammar play in that?

Instead, the assessment stays up in the clouds:

It runs into the problem that grammar itself seems constrained by the world; by certain basic facts of our physiology, needs, and environment. If all those things were to require our grammar to construct them, then they wouldn’t be able to constrain grammar. Does this mean, then, that there is a world independent of language, independent of us, but in some sense malleable and accepting of different ways of carving it up into things? It isn’t clear what it might mean to say that the world is ‘malleable’ in this way. If the world exists at all prior to our use of language, then it seems it must have some kind of independently determinate nature. What would it mean for that determinate nature to be malleable?


Is there anyone here willing to examine this as it pertains to their "social, political and economic interactions" with others given the life they live from day to day?

It seems to suggest the possibility of solipsism to me. Carving up what things in what situation given what understanding of the world? After all, if we are are just at the end of biological evolution here on planet earth then we know that creatures have existed "prior to the use of language". Language is merely a component of the human species allowing us to interact in ways that no other creature on earth is able even to fathom. On our computers using the internet for example
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Wed Nov 18, 2020 8:56 pm

Rules, Language & Reality
George Wrisley considers how some of Wittgenstein’s later ideas on language relate to reality.

Conclusion

As we try to understand what Wittgenstein was up to with his talk of the arbitrariness of grammar and the importance of grammar for meaning, I think we will go astray if we try to pin him down on the issue of in what sense reality itself is relative to our language.


Can you believe this? Unless of course the whole point is the suggest the futility of such an endeavor. Still, in regard to language and all that might be understood to be grammar in regard to it, the words we invented to communicate things and relationships in the either/or world seem to be a reality that the "arbitrariness of grammar" hasn't stopped us from creating, say, personal computers, smart phone and zillion other technologies and "consumer goods" that most of us now just take for granted. Oftentimes without the least bit understanding of how or why they work.

Again, unless, in regard even to that, I am not able to grasp Wittgenstein's point at all. And if that is the case, by all means, let someone here who does understand it explain its importance in regard to our "for all practical purposes" either/or world communication.

As for communication in the is/ought world...that's another frame of mind altogether. With or with grammar being arbitrary.

That is indeed an important question, but Wittgenstein, at least in some moments, doesn’t want to solve such philosophical problems. He would prefer to show that they rest on misunderstandings engendered by language.


Me too. Only I still make what I construe to be that important distinction between grammar embedded in language used to convey meaning in the either/or world and grammar used to convey meaning in the is/ought world. Same with inflection and syntax. Words are able to pin down what things are [objectively] in the either/or world because they were invented precisely in order to name what they are. As Ayn Rand would put it. But what can we name as true objectively when the words are used to convey value judgments?

From Wittgenstein’s perspective there are more important lessons to be learned from the arbitrariness of grammar. For example, language is not meaningful because it mirrors reality; meaning is not the result of the objects and things to which language refers; language is meaningful because of how and where we use it, in accordance with the rules of grammar and in the various everyday situations in which we find ourselves.


But, for me, language does mirror reality objectively in regard to such words as, "John copulated sexually with Jane and Jane is now pregnant."

How, in a Wittgensteinian sense, is this language not "mirroring reality"? And how does language mirror or not mirror reality when the words become, "Jane had an abortion, this is immoral and she deserves to be punished".
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Fri Nov 27, 2020 8:13 pm

Do Languages Exist?
And how does language work anyway? Antony Tomlinson weighs the arguments.

Languages seem an important feature of our lives. The languages we speak determine who we can communicate with, where we can work, and what we can read or listen to. Languages are also political. For instance, recent years have seen laws requiring migrants to the UK to learn English. An apparent decline in numbers of Welsh speakers led to calls for government money to be spent on Welsh language promotion. Kiev saw rioting in 2012 in response to moves to allow the Russian language, rather than Ukrainian, to be used in public institutions.


That's one frame of mind. But my own frame of mind tends to focus in more on the limitations of language. What can't language communicate? Either wholly or in part. And what happens when those who insist that the language they use does communicate everything are confronted with those who agree. But turn out to be communicating opposites conclusions. Or what of those like me who suggest that in regard to moral and political and aesthetic value judgments both sides [many sides] can communicate reasonably given opposite initial assumptions begetting opposite conclusions?

Here, of course, the political dimension becomes of the utmost importance. After all, when conflicts occur in communication, someone or something [government by and large] must intervene and enforce actual rules of behavior that punish this or reward that.

Given the powerful role that languages play, it is perhaps surprising that some thinkers claim that such languages do not actually exist. These thinkers – who include significant linguists and philosophers such as Noam Chomsky (1928-) and Donald Davidson (1917-2003) – argue that terms such as ‘English’ or ‘Russian’ signify convenient fictions rather than real entities. These thinkers challenge our common sense notion of language, and force us to explore not only the nature of language, but the nature of reality itself.


Ah, language...technically. As in in what can we know epistemologically about language itself. What can be expressed rationally and logically and objectively and essentially about it. Words and worlds. How close to or far away from each other are they.

Then it only comes down to the extent that those on either side of this dispute use "real life" human behaviors in "real life" contexts to explore these points more substantively,

Imagine Noam Chomsky communicating to us his take on a conversation between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in regard to the 2016 presidential election in America. To what extent are "convenient fictions" being exchanged here?

Language and reality. Well, maybe we don't actually need a context after all.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Sat Dec 05, 2020 7:39 pm

Do Languages Exist?
And how does language work anyway? Antony Tomlinson weighs the arguments.

Three initial challenges seem to undermine the common sense view that languages such as English actually exist.

The first challenge: Much of our modern understanding of the world has come about through natural sciences such as physics and biology. These sciences aim to give an account of the natural world based on observation and experiment. Given the success of natural science, several thinkers, including Chomsky, suggest that linguistics – the study of language – should proceed according to its methods. Thus, linguistics should examine the natural world and the place of linguistic phenomena within it.


Yeah, you know what's coming...

Clearly, there seems to be a distinction between that which language is able to communicate objectively in regard to interactions relating to things like physics, biology, chemistry, geology, meteorology etc., and the communication breakdowns that often unfold when, for example, the discussions revolving around the biology of human sexuality and pregnancy gives way to discussions regarding the morality of abortion when the biological truths result in an unwanted pregnancy.

Should we then accede to the conclusions of those like Chomsky here. As though experts in linguistics are better able to communicate their points of view in with respect to conflicting goods.

This is where a problem arises for the common sense view. For although studying observable aspects of linguistic phenomena may tell us, for example, about the vocal chords or the brains of language users, it is hard to imagine how we could observe any entity called ‘the English language’.


For one thing, we would have to focus in on particular English speaking men and women exchanging the language in different contexts around the globe. How do we pin down communication that can be ascribed to and described as embodying "common sense". Once we moved past the biological imperatives embedded in the vocal chords and brains and zeroed in more on the aspects of human relationships that most intrigue me.

This this sort of speculation...

It is true that we can observe sounds that we call ‘English expressions’, but the English language cannot just be a collection of all the sounds English speakers have made (some English sentences have never been uttered, while some sounds, such as hiccups, are not language). The challenge argues that if languages like English cannot be observed in a natural scientific manner, they are not real; rather, the idea of ‘the English language’ is a pre-scientific notion, like ‘the devil’. We may talk about it in daily discourse, but the term does not represent anything actually existing in reality as revealed by natural science.


...can be exchanged by those intrigued by these relationships. But sooner or latter any technical consensus about the English language will either be brought to bear on the components of my own philosophy here or they will ever and always stay up in the clouds preferred by, say, the "analytic" sort.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby Pedro I Rengel » Sat Dec 05, 2020 7:59 pm

How can you prove that these aren't all just poetic psychologisms?

Any time you are ready we can take it to another thread, and discuss the contexts within which your criticisms of texts or your ideas regarding communism or the objectivness of the reality of genes, memes, their combination, and how they rule our lives can be discerned and shown to apply to every human being always regardless of subjective experience.
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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Mon Dec 14, 2020 5:47 pm

Do Languages Exist?
And how does language work anyway? Antony Tomlinson weighs the arguments.

Given these challenges to the common sense view, some folks believe that the phenomenon of human language is best understood not as a series of languages like English or Welsh, but as a series of idiolects.

An idiolect is the language of one individual. A description of one person’s idiolect includes all the vocabulary and grammatical features of that individual’s personal way of speaking (or writing). Their idiolect is an independent, self-contained system. So Bob’s use of “I don’t know nothing” is simply a feature of Bob’s idiolect. It is not ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ according to any external standard.


Yet another example of how the understanding of language turns on particular technical assessments -- standards -- of usage. Correct or incorrect according to specific rules that revolve around the proper usage of "phonemes, morphemes, lexemes, syntax, and context." Along with "grammar, semantics, and pragmatics".

Whereas I am far more interested in exploring what it is specifically that Bob "don't know nothing" about. To what extent is he able to communicate facts about this context such that at least we both know what he is talking about. Such that all reasonable men and women would be able to grasp the same thing in the same way.

Whereas when communication breakdowns occur over value judgments, all parties in the dispute can be entirely correct insofar as the components of language are concerned. Everyone agrees with the facts being articulated relating to a situation in which Mary poured a gallon of red paint of Jane's mink stole.

But what about the communication that revolves instead around whether this behavior is justified? Whether, in regard to whatever language you chose, it is the right thing to do. Now, here, the language of the law can be clear enough. It is either legal or illegal to do this in any particular jurisdiction. Most likely, illegal. But that's language able to be unambiguous. Only when legal language becomes entangled in conflicting goods are the components of my own moral philosophy deemed applicable.

This view holds that individuals’ idiolects, as opposed to mass languages like English, are the only form of language that exists. It is an approach that fits well with a linguistics based on natural science. For while it seems impossible to observe and experiment on ‘the English language’, we can describe the idiolect of one individual, and study the way in which it manifests itself, for instance in that individual’s behaviour or brain. In this way, linguistics now becomes continuous with natural sciences like biology.


Of course, for all practical purposes, when human beings interact, "the only form of language" that really counts is that which results in a set of circumstances that some prefer over others. And in regard to conflicting goods linguists are no closer than the "natural scientists" in being able to actually establish arguments from which to derive particular rules of behavior in one or another community, state or nation.

Here my own existential assessment seems more reasonable.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Tue Dec 15, 2020 8:12 pm

iambiguous wrote:
The perfect imperfect x, or the perfect imperfection, is by definition, absurd/paradoxical.


Now, if your life depended on being able to explain this by way noting how "for all practical purposes" it has actual substantive implications given the life that you live from day to day in your interactions with others, how would you go about illustrating the text?

And how would you go about connecting that dot to the one that revolves around what you think you know about an omnipotent being?

No serious philosophy allowed here, okay? Just actual "ordinary language philosophy".

That being this:

"Ordinary language philosophy is a philosophical methodology that sees traditional philosophical problems as rooted in misunderstandings philosophers develop by distorting or forgetting what words actually mean in everyday use." wiki


I brought this here from another thread because it illustrates some of the difficulty I have with what I call "serious philosophy" language.

In other words, the manner in which, regarding the things that most interest me philosophically, the words used in any particular argument are never brought down to the parts pf our lived lives where we might use them "everyday" in regard to the things that we actually do.

I merely focus in on the things that we actually do which result in conflicts with others over moral and political and spiritual value judgments.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Tue Dec 22, 2020 5:44 pm

Do Languages Exist?
And how does language work anyway? Antony Tomlinson weighs the arguments.

The Public Language View

One alternative to the idiolectal view sees a language as a social convention. Much inspiration for this view comes from the writings of the American philosopher David Lewis, particularly Convention (1969).

Lewis analyses the ways that conventions are established and maintained by societies. Take the convention of driving on the left-hand side of the road. This convention, which existed long before it was written into law, arose for obvious practical purposes, such as preventing crashes. Lewis notes that this convention only functions because all British, Australian, etc drivers recognise that it is in force, follow it, and expect and hope that others follow it too. Of course, they could equally well have followed the French and American convention of driving on the right to achieve the same ends. However, once a convention is in place, it often remains that way for as long as it is generally useful.


Of course this is a view of language that bears little relevance to the points I raise. All sorts of arguments can be communicated back and forth regarding driving on the left vs. driving on the right. But as "conflicting goods" go, this is hardly a pressing matter for most of us.

Though in fact there is a rather substantial wikipedia article about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-_and ... nd_traffic

But "public language" revolving around "social conventions" of this sort is not likely to stir up much controversy. It's rooted more in the way things just happened to unfold in any particular nation once the automobile was invented.

A language, Lewis argues, is established and maintained in a similar way. Take the English expression “It’s raining.” The convention that we utter “It’s raining” only when we believe that it is raining exists for useful communicative purposes. Of course, for the convention on this use of sounds to work, we all have to recognise that it is in force, follow it, and expect and hope that others follow it too. True, we could equally well have followed the French convention of uttering “Il pleut” when we believe that it is raining, but the English convention is now in place.


Same here. This is language rooted firmly in the either/or world. English and French word sounds merely denote how over the centuries different communities invented different words to express the same thing. It is raining so you take along your umbrella. Or in France your parapluie.

On this ‘public language’ view, English, Welsh, and other languages, can be seen as complex systems of conventions. The conventions arise and endure because they solve coordination problems between individuals in a society. Thus, a language is essentially interpersonal. In contrast to the idiolectal view, a language cannot be regarded as a system confined to one individual.


And on and on and on these "technical" discussions can be sustained. Using words to explain why we use these words and not those words in regard to '"public language" revolving around "social conventions"'

Considerably less in the way of dasein, conflicting goods and political economy here.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby obsrvr524 » Tue Dec 22, 2020 5:50 pm

I'm hesitant to ask this and I'm sure somewhere in your long tenure you have answered it but can you give a short explanation what your obsession with "conflicting goods" is about?
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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Tue Dec 22, 2020 5:55 pm

obsrvr524 wrote:I'm hesitant to ask this and I'm sure somewhere in your long tenure you have answered it but can you give a short explanation what your obsession with "conflicting goods" is about?


I'll take this over to "our" thread. 8)
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Wed Dec 30, 2020 5:40 pm

Do Languages Exist?
And how does language work anyway? Antony Tomlinson weighs the arguments.

Chomsky’s Innate Knowledge

The public language view apparently gives us everything we want. It allows for the existence of languages like English, and resists challenges to the common sense view. However, public language faces other objections, one of the most influential being presented by Chomsky.


No, the "public language view" gives most only what they want to believe about their own language skills in dispensing moral and political opinions claimed to be objective truths. Authoritarians in particular.

We'll still need a context, a conflicting good, a sense of identity, the role played by political power when sorting out our own language skills.

Chomsky has his own assessment of how human beings acquire a particular language. And he also has his own assessment of, among other things, capitalism and imperialism. So, how are the two understood together. What words are available to him in one sphere that may not be applicable in the other?

Chomsky holds that the grammatical rules of human language are innate. That is to say, there are structures in our brains with which we are born which allow us to understand and produce language. Systems of grammar are ultimately therefore not derived from public conventions, but are internal to individuals, so Chomsky’s position is highly idiolectal. The role of linguistics, for Chomsky, is to examine the structures of innate grammars by studying the idiolects of individuals using the methods of natural science.


More "technical" stuff. Pinning down precisely where biology ends and everything else begins. But, with Chomsky's political enemies, it's not his grammar that infuriates them. Whether derived from public conventions or idiolectal origins, the language he uses to critique the language that reactionaries use in defense of capitalism, would seem to be inherently problematic. At least given the manner in which I understand language used to convey value judgments.

And what exactly are the limitations of "natural science" here?
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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby Pedro I Rengel » Wed Dec 30, 2020 5:43 pm

iambiguous wrote:Do Languages Exist?



Hahahahahahahahahahahaha
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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Thu Jan 07, 2021 6:06 pm

Do Languages Exist?
And how does language work anyway? Antony Tomlinson weighs the arguments.

One of Chomsky’s key arguments against public language is that it makes no sense of the way that we learn our first languages. For if a language was only a system of conventions, then a child would have to learn all the rules of this artificial system in order to master language use. However, as Chomsky points out, children are only exposed to a finite number of expressions before they start creating entirely new combinations of words. Furthermore, they are rarely explicitly taught the often obscure rules of their language. How then, Chomsky challenges, could a child go from hearing a few sentences of English, to coming to know the system well enough to produce completely original sentences? Chomsky thinks this is impossible. Instead, he argues, a child could only show this extensive knowledge of the rules of grammar so quickly if that knowledge were already pre-programmed into his or her brain. The basis of language then, Chomsky argues, is not an external system of conventions, but something internal to individuals’ brains.


On the other hand, how far is this "biological imperative" approach to language skills from a wholly determined universe?

If the laws of matter are capable of creating a brain able to master complex language skills that enable young children to create "completely original sentences" innately, why not take it further and argue that the sentences themselves are only what they could ever have been.

Obviously, somewhere along the line, these old and new sentences become anchored to a moral and political agenda derived in turn from either right wing or left wing indoctrinations.

Chomsky argues that...

"We just can’t abandon believing it (free will); it’s our most immediate phenomenologically obvious impression, but we can’t explain it. […] If it’s something we know to be true and we don’t have any explanation for it, well, too bad for any explanatory possibilities."

youtube video: https://youtu.be/J3fhKRJNNTA
https://youtu.be/py-PJQKzQIw

Here he basically embraces my own frame of mind: that we simply do not know if we have free will but [compelled or not] we have to live our lives as though we do possess at least some measure of it. But noting this doesn't make discussions of it any less surreal. Any less [ultimately] imponderable. Language is merely subsumed in that like all the rest of it.

Clearly different "publics" -- historically, culturally, circumstantially -- concoct different languages. Languages that can be communicated with considerably more clarity and coherence in the either/or world than in the is/ought world.

Whether that is nature's plan or, up to a point, our own.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Sat Jan 16, 2021 7:47 pm

Do Languages Exist?
And how does language work anyway? Antony Tomlinson weighs the arguments.

An apparent problem with this argument [that the basis of language is not an external system of conventions, but something internal to individuals’ brain]
lies in Chomsky’s conception of ‘knowledge’. It is indeed implausible that a child could gain a complete knowledge of grammar if this is the kind of propositional knowledge (an explicit knowledge of facts) one gets from memorising a grammar book. However, it is perfectly possible to memorise grammar tables and still be unable to speak a language!


I'm the first to admit I have neither the technical background nor an intelligence sophisticated enough to follow this sort of epistemological conflict. Instead, all I can do is to ask those convinced that they do possess the requisite background and intelligence to note how their own conclusions might play out in a child that is learning how to use language given a context that involves moral and political indoctrination on the part of the adults in his or her life...adults intent on sustaining their own value judgments through their children. When do the rules of grammar begin to butt heads with attempts to communicate perspectives in regard to conflicting goods?

Naturally, however, that's not where the author goes. Language skills in the is/ought world confronts us with a frame of mind that, however skilled one is with grammar, doesn't make the communication [at times] any less profoundly problematic.

Instead, he makes a comparison to...riding a bicycle.

A more plausible way of understanding a child’s ‘knowledge of language’ might see it as a practical ability or ‘skill’...A skill is something we learn through practice, by way of trial and error, often without being aware of the principles enabling us to exhibit that skill. A typical example is riding a bicycle. I could gain propositional knowledge of how to ride a bicycle by, for instance, learning from a physics textbook about the equations of motion and the balances of forces that make cycling possible. However, this is unlikely to help me ride it. Instead, to learn to cycle, I must practise, and only in this way will I eventually gain the skill. In a sense I will then know the principles of cycling, but this knowledge will not be propositional knowledge.


Again, if we lived in a world where the use of language revolved solely around learning how to interact with others...interactions such that there was always only a right way and a wrong way to do things, then whoever is right about how we acquire language skills, it wouldn't matter nearly as much as the fact that, one way or another, we acquire them.

My point however is that even if it is finally determined definitively who is right here, it wouldn't make the limitations of language skills any less problematic in the is/ought world.

Unless of course I'm wrong. And someone is able to demonstrate that in regard to moral and political and spiritual and esthetic values, there is the "social science" equivalent of the "most rational" use of language.
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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Mon Jan 25, 2021 5:37 pm

Do Languages Exist?
And how does language work anyway? Antony Tomlinson weighs the arguments.

It is conceivable that a child similarly learns its first language as a skill. The child originally makes sounds. Some sounds are effective in getting across what the child wants, some are not. Furthermore, when the child makes mistakes, he or she is corrected by adults. Over several years of trial and error, the child masters a public language. Explicit, propositional knowledge of grammar need play no part in this story, so the mystery of how children could know all the rules of public language seems removed.


For me the mystery that is far, far more intriguing is the one that separates language skills that are entirely calculable in regard to the either/or world [however inexact the grammar may be] and the endless conflicts that still beset us in regard to language skills used to convey things thought to be either good or evil [however exact the grammar may be].

It is one thing for a child to be corrected by an adult if the child notes something that is in fact incorrect...and another thing altogether for this child to be corrected for not mimicking the parents own moral and political values.

The child may see Mary, an obese woman, and tell Mom that she is pregnant. Mom corrects him if in fact Mary is not pregnant. But if the child comes to reject Mom's views about Jane committing a sin by having an abortion, where is the correct grammatical usage that resolves this?

Chomsky has responded to such arguments by suggesting that knowledge of language and skill in language are separate elements in language use. To demonstrate, he notes that someone whose brain functions are temporarily impaired can lose their skill in using language, but, on recovery, exhibit this skill once more. For Chomsky, this shows that the knowledge of the language remained stored in their brain while their skill in language use came and went. Thus language use is not merely a skill.


Okay, but where in the brain are the factors that would allow us to assess whether Chomsky's own views on abortion are either more or less innate or learned?

Entirely innate of course if human autonomy itself is entirely innate. Here though Chomsky take's another leap:

"We just can’t abandon believing it (free will); it’s our most immediate phenomenologically obvious impression, but we can’t explain it…If it’s something we know to be true and we don’t have any explanation for it, well, too bad for any explanatory possibilities."

But if human autonomy is somehow a manifestation of mindless matter evolving biologically into matter able to invent a language used to communicate in a grammatically sound manner the way things are for all of us, where does that leave us in regard to our reactions [morally and politically] toward these truths that precipitate conflicting goods.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Fri Feb 05, 2021 6:51 pm

Do Languages Exist?
And how does language work anyway? Antony Tomlinson weighs the arguments.

An advantage of the public language view is that it accounts for the use of language to communicate. Jane follows a convention by uttering “It’s raining” only when she believes it is raining. Steve, hearing this, and aware of the convention, becomes conscious of Jane’s belief. In contrast, the idiolectal view sees each person’s idiolect as an independent and self-contained system. I use my language, and you use yours. How these mutually-independent systems could be used to communicate seems mysterious.


Ultimately, the mystery embedded in human language will always go back to 1] the extent to which we possess some measure of autonomy in grappling with it and 2] if we do possess a measure of free will, an understaning of the "human condition" going back to an understanding of Existence itself.

And, of course, the extent to which the language that the evolution of biological life on Earth has bestowed upon the human species is grappled with further given the distinction that I make between the either/or and the is/ought worlds.

All of the "technical" narratives here must sooner or later come around to that. In other words, in however human language is understood re Chomsky and others, why are there always considerably more limitations imposed on human communication when Chomsky shifts the discussion to capitalism or imperialism?

Now a new point of view: Donald Davidson

Malapropisms anyone?

"malapropism: the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with unintentionally amusing effect, as in, for example, “dance a flamingo ” (instead of flamenco )."

...in his essay ‘A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs’ in Truth and Interpretation (ed. Ernest Lepore, 1986), Donald Davidson suggests that the idiolectal view best captures the way communication proceeds. Unfortunately I can only outline Davidson’s argument here, but at its core are cases of communication via malapropisms.

A malapropism is a (usually comic) misuse of language. For example, in the BBC WWII comedy, ’Allo ’Allo!, Crabtree, a British agent disguised as a French policeman, always greets characters by saying “Good moaning!” rather than “Good morning!” Despite this malapropism, we easily understand Crabtree; we recognise what he means largely thanks to contextual clues: for instance, it is morning and the first time we have met Crabtree today.

Malapropisms show that communication without a common convention is perfectly possible. The upshot of Davidson’s discussion is that we do not use conventions to communicate in normal cases of language use either. So when Jane says “It is raining,” it is not knowledge of convention that allows Steve to understand her. Rather, contextual clues (it is raining, Jane is pointing out of the window) allow Steve to recognise what Jane intends to communicate. So Davidson suggests that we each have our own separate idiolects, and whenever we communicate, we are in effect interpreting the other person’s idiolect by working out how they use expressions – even if their idiolect seems identical to our own.


Okay, Jane says "I'm getting an abortion". Jim says, "if you do you'll burn in Hell."

What then of malapropisms and the use of conventions and contextual clues and idiolects in regard to pinning down the most precise communication?

After all, we do use the same language to discuss the weather as we do the morality of abortion. Here in America it is generally English. Yet with the morality of abortion the communication breakdowns are considerably more frequent...and consequential.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Tue Feb 16, 2021 6:39 pm

The Private Language Argument
Richard Floyd explains a notorious example of Wittgenstein’s public thought.

Wittgenstein is certainly a special case. He is perhaps the only philosopher who could have produced an argument for which there can be serious debate about whether or not it is in fact an argument.


We have this argument off and on here too. Someone will post a point or an opinion about something on one or another thread and then another who touts him or herself as considerably more skilled in grappling with philosophy as a disciplined set of skills, will insist that the point or the opinion is not actually a true argument.

This thing:

"In logic and philosophy, an argument is a series of statements (in a natural language), called the premises intended to determine the degree of truth of another statement, the conclusion"

Technically as it were.

Whereas I am far more interested on focusing in on whether the point or the opinion or the actual argument is able to be demonstrated as true objectively for all rational people. Even if technically it is not a true argument.

We say something about ourselves out in the world with others. Others either agree with what we say or they disagree. Okay, given a particular context with conflicting points of view, are we or are we not able to establish the optimal or the only rational point, opinion and/or argument that there is?

That is basically my point in regard to the use of language to communicate our viewpoints regarding "morality here and now/immortality there and then". My main interest in philosophy: "how ought one to live?"

The passage which has earned this dubious honour is commonly known as the private language argument. If we are going to apply strict logical criteria and say that an argument must have premises which lead to a conclusion via rules of inference, we would have to say that the private language argument is not an argument, given that it lacks any clear structure and any obvious conclusion.


Exactly? Jane makes a few points about something she believes is true about the rights of animals. Is it more important to explore the extent to which her assessment is a reasonable or a virtuous frame of mind, or to establish whether it is expressed as a true argument. How many discussions about animal rights are technically sufficient enough to be qualified as genuine philosophy? Does that matter when the discussions revolve mainly around conflicting goods?

Maybe? Depends on the context? Though my point is that in regard to discussions revolving around conflicting goods such as animal rights, neither "private language" nor technically correct philosophical arguments are going to be sufficient enough to establish a definitive conclusion about the rights of animals.

On the other hand, I am no more able to establish this. Yes, there may well be be a more or less sufficiently rigorous argument that does establish the natural/political rights of animals "out there" in the world somewhere. But all I can note is that I am not myself "here and now" privy to it.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Fri Feb 26, 2021 8:32 pm

The Private Language Argument
Richard Floyd explains a notorious example of Wittgenstein’s public thought.

The private language argument appears as part of Wittgenstein’s posthumous epic Philosophical Investigations, part one of which consists of 693 numbered remarks, which were arranged by Wittgenstein himself, and few of which are more than a page in length. Part two was assembled after his death and is more loosely structured, with fourteen sections of various lengths. Wittgenstein first raises the idea of a private language in remark 243 of part one. He says:

“But could we also imagine a language in which a person could write down or give vocal expression to his inner experiences – his feeling, moods, and the rest – for his private use? – Well, can’t we do so in our ordinary language? – But that is not what I mean. The individual words of this language are to refer to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations. So another person cannot understand the language.”


On the other hand, what would be the point of it? That would depend on the individual or individuals involved. They would do this because, well, for whatever reason they found it useful or necessary or beneficial. But: it would only become controversial if, in pursuing this, it began to have an adverse impact on others who were not privy to their own private meaning of words.

The same thing with all the rest of us who come to act out [through our behaviors] our own "private language". In the sense that how we come to understand the meaning of words existentially is derived from our own individual experiences. But it only becomes a problem in contexts in which one's own private meaning is not in sync with others in situations in which we have to concur on the meaning in order to avoid conflict.

This may be different from Wittgenstein's own understanding of it, but my point is still basically, "so what"?

Private, individual understandings of any particular language only generate, say, ominous news headlines when they come to revolve by and large around moral and political and religious exchanges that fail to overlap.

Only in regard to this a private language is understood by me to be more in sync with dasein and conflicting goods.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby Meno_ » Fri Feb 26, 2021 9:31 pm

Iambiguous says:

"Only in regard to this a private language is understood by me to be more in sync with dasein and conflicting goods."

That is a prerogitive that appears as intentionally variable, as does the bedfellows: determinancy and absolute freedom: im afraid to this antimony we are condemned
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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Fri Feb 26, 2021 11:19 pm

Meno_ wrote:Iambiguous says:

"Only in regard to this a private language is understood by me to be more in sync with dasein and conflicting goods."

That is a prerogitive that appears as intentionally variable, as does the bedfellows: determinancy and absolute freedom: im afraid to this antimony we are condemned


This may well be the most unintelligible thing that you have ever posted!

Unless of course I'm wrong.

I know. Let's discuss what you think you mean by it given, oh, I don't know, a particular context? 8)
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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby Meno_ » Sat Feb 27, 2021 12:30 am

iambiguous wrote:
Meno_ wrote:Iambiguous says:

"Only in regard to this a private language is understood by me to be more in sync with dasein and conflicting goods."

That is a prerogitive that appears as intentionally variable, as does the bedfellows: determinancy and absolute freedom: im afraid to this antimony we are condemned


This may well be the most unintelligible thing that you have ever posted!

Unless of course I'm wrong.

I know. Let's discuss what you think you mean by it given, oh, I don't know, a particular context? 8)





Ok. Particular context.
First of all, what is particular about any context which can differentiate it from another?
In today's thought, that is based on phenomenally. distinguished similarity, and what are the features of any context which set it apart from another, OR, conversely, can form durable objective syntax which hold meaning other then cliches and the kind?

And if the two kinds are balanced in an either/or propositional value judgement , how does this judgement fare to extend it's syntax and value?
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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby Berkley Babes » Sat Feb 27, 2021 12:49 am

Is the sound of the word "water" coming from my mouth the same as the liquid flowing in a river, no, so there are limitations.

More and more, I'm becoming convinced language and mental talk is only to serve the concept of the other, that others exist. Whether they do exist is another debate, but language is the start of that illusion.

If I was the only person to ever exist, I wonder if language would ever develop.
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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby Dan~ » Sat Feb 27, 2021 12:14 pm

Language is a set of names.
Experience is everything.
Names come later and can only exist through experience.
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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby encode_decode » Sat Feb 27, 2021 6:02 pm

Perhaps most of the limitations of language come from the obvious poor usage of language . . .
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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby encode_decode » Sat Feb 27, 2021 6:09 pm

Dan~ wrote:Language is a set of names.
Experience is everything.
Names come later and can only exist through experience.

What is experience without some sort of mental representation of what has happened? The entirety of language is in fact not just a set of names. It is also true to say that any mental representation is formed after any event has taken place - experience is a mental representation - catch my drift?
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