Dictionary definitions

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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby NoShips on July 5th, 2017, 7:13 am 

Well, first thoughts, Lomax, (and remember I'm very confused), of course we can come to learn more about pencils (more are sold in China than Russia, say) or learn more about you (you've been drinking Grolsch again today). But isn't the issue the essential properties, if there are any, of pencils, gravity, water, or your good self?

Pencils may not have any; I assume you do. DNA or something. Yes, that's why we'll be arresting you shortly.

Gosh, I was in the middle of a reply to BiV when you posted, and my brain is aching. Who says thinking doesn't hurt?

Think I'll just fake an epileptic fit. It's a lot easier.
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby Lomax on July 5th, 2017, 7:19 am 

Positor and I had an exchange on the issue you might find worth a read by the way. With Positor's arguments, as with Barcan Marcus (or Kripke, if you must) I tended to find they were internally consistent but multiplied entities beyond necessity. All the stuff about rigid designators and intensions, as long as we can't empirically demonstrate that there are entities on both sides of these cleavages, just seem to me to be what people come up with to make the analytic/synthetic distinction work; but why bother when you can simply do without it? Sivad showed a concern with Kripke's metaphysical baggage; I say if you wanna leave unnecessary baggage at the airport, go the whole hog.

NoShips » July 5th, 2017, 12:13 pm wrote:Well, first thoughts, Lomax, (and remember I'm very confused), of course we can come to learn more about pencils (more are sold in China than Russia, say) or learn more about you (you've been drinking Grolsch again today). But isn't the issue the essential properties, if there are any, of pencils, gravity, water, or your good self?

Well exactly - that's why calling a definition analytic wouldn't preclude us from going on to learn the synthetic stuff. It'd just mean nothing we learned could provoke us to change the definition (itself a boggling scenario, but a different matter).

And of course I was being provocative when I said the greatest minds were wasted. It's my callous way of saying they haven't managed to answer the question, and that we might want to start considering that until we answer the question (of what meaning is), if it even has an answer, we have no chance of drawing epistemic or metaphysical distinctions based on it.
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby NoShips on July 5th, 2017, 7:27 am 

Ok, the more I think about all this, the more I realize how horribly confused I am. And that's why I love this place. A few weeks ago I might have felt capable of explaining the analytic-synthetic distinction to ..um, tribal warriors in New Guinea or something.

The tables have turned. Searle has said he finds it hard to believe -- even though undeniable -- that David Hume wrote the "Treatise" when only 24 (or whatever). I get the same feeling about you.

You're a wonderfully clever man. Thanks so much for helping me understand (cough) this stuff.
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby NoShips on July 5th, 2017, 7:32 am 

@ BiV -- I've been thinking about your most recent posts for hours, and almost completed a response. Then decided it was a load of shite. LOL.

Thanks so much. Your examples are marvellously clever. I'm gonna keep thinking and hopefully get back to you.

For today though... It's 7:30 pm. Maybe some Sinatra then bed.
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby Lomax on July 5th, 2017, 7:32 am 

Flattery will get you everywhere Mr Ships ;) Anyway have you read Goodman's essays on this issue? I found them wonderfully clarifying.
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby NoShips on July 5th, 2017, 7:39 am 

Well, just started browsing through that thread you posted. Heavens above! I'm definitely gonna fake that epileptic fit now.

Read some Goodman. Not sure exactly what you're referring to. Recently got "Fact and Forecast" (if that's the name) from the local library and almost threw myself off the roof. He's not what you'd call a scintillating writer (IMO).
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby NoShips on July 5th, 2017, 7:47 am 

Lomax » July 5th, 2017, 8:32 pm wrote:Flattery will get you everywhere Mr Ships ;)


Ok. Resident Expert status, please. Might help me get laid.
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby Lomax on July 5th, 2017, 7:56 am 

NoShips » July 5th, 2017, 12:39 pm wrote:Read some Goodman. Not sure exactly what you're referring to.

He wrote a couple of essays in reply to detractors of the Quinean argument. I still have one, I'll upload it later when the sun sets on Nuneaton.
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby NoShips on July 5th, 2017, 7:57 am 

Sun? What sun? That's one reason I moved to the tropics.
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby NoShips on July 5th, 2017, 8:03 am 

Oh gosh! Now I'm wondering: Is it possible that more pencils being sold in China than Russia is an essential property of pencils?

I suppose we're gonna have to discuss primary vs secondary properties some time... after my epilepsy gets better.

The thing about Quine is... he affects everything. (see also "faaks up everything")

An omnifaaker, in layman's terms.
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby NoShips on July 5th, 2017, 8:14 am 

@ Lomax

FFS! Still reading through that thread you posted. What's a good looking young fellah like you doing wasting his Halcyon years on Quine?

What I mean to say is: I'm enormously impressed. Rather than "like" each individual post, here's an omnilike.

Did the other kids in school like you?
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby Braininvat on July 5th, 2017, 8:44 am 

Thanks to Sivad and Lomax for helpful links, and steering me towards a more pragmatic approach to definitions. I was getting a bit over concerned about metaphysical "essence." So long as there is useful intersubjective (a healing term, offered by Sivad) agreement on the scope and looseness of meaning, then water can be wet stuff that is a good solvent and we can cheerfully keep within a context where that has practical meaning. I like it!

NS, thanks to you for your kind words, especially as I now think my post is mostly tangential shite. You're right, this is hard going.
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby Sivad on July 7th, 2017, 2:19 pm 

Braininvat » July 5th, 2017, 5:44 am wrote: especially as I now think my post is mostly tangential shite.

I think you hit the nail on the head -

Definitions seem so critically dependent on functional levels, when it comes to science.


That's my answer to Putnam's problem as well. If we define water as a genus then we can abstract it out to anything that generally functions like water in biology or hydrology, or differentiate down to H2O specifically. Intension determines extension. Putnam's argument rests on the premise that the ostensive definition of water carries a hidden indexical, that when we point to the stuff and say water we mean that exact substance down to the molecular composition, and I think that's a bit of a stretch. So by my lights functional levels are critical to definition, some definitions are very specific and others are more generic.
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby mitchellmckain on July 7th, 2017, 6:25 pm 

NoShips » June 26th, 2017, 12:20 pm wrote:Hey BiV, I find this shit very hard myself (especially after a day of German beer) but everyone here is telling me...


Syphilis is what is. The meaning does not change. We just come to learn that some dudes who thought they had syphilis did not.

And...

"Bachelor"? There is no possibility of a dude whom we took to be a bachelor turning out not to be. Unlike syphilis. We cannot learn more about bachelorhood. (But we can learn more about your venereal disorders)


Sorry, this dosn't work. In order to make it work you need something that actually depends on nobody but yourself, like maybe your favorite color or something like that. The fact is that even if it is unlikely or unusual you can find out that you are a bachelor or married when you did not know that to be the case. Two scenarios present themselves...
1. You were married but your spouse is believed to be dead. It is even possible this occurred some time before you find out and thus you find out that were a bachelor and didn't even know it.
2. Then you find out that the spouse is not dead after all. And now you find out that you were married when you didn't know it.
3. Marriage depends a great deal on social customs and therefore you can find out that you are married according to local (and legal) custom when you had no idea this was the case.
4. Or... you follow your custom with regards to getting married and think it is decided and it turns out your partner partner has a completely different idea and doesn't consider your traditions binding in any way whatsoever.
5. Or another scenario that pops up on occasion is it turns out that one of the requirements for marriage turns out to be invalidated, such as not a valid priest, or not a valid license, maybe even because one of the partners was disqualified by age or already married.
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby Sivad on July 8th, 2017, 7:06 pm 

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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby Sivad on July 8th, 2017, 7:26 pm 

the upshot (Youtube 4 min)
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby NoShips on July 9th, 2017, 9:22 am 

Sivad: Thank you so much. I loved that video. That Prinz dude is super clever and ultra clear. It was enormously helpful to me.

One of my plans for tomorrow is to get his book "Furnishing the Mind" from the library.

Yes, I already checked; they have it and no other sad loser has reserved it LOL.

I had to google his name; wasn't sure if I knew him or not. The name rang no bells. Turns out I've read his (co-edited) "Mind and Cognition: An Anthology". Took me years to get through that one!
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby Braininvat on July 9th, 2017, 9:53 am 

"Reference is more like geography than natural science...." Great stuff!

I, too, thank you, Sivad. The reference-as-panacea overview was clear and helpful. Am out of town next week and will, happily, find myself in a city with a vast university library, so I may stop in and look through Prinz's book.
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby NoShips on July 9th, 2017, 10:30 am 

mitchellmckain » July 8th, 2017, 7:25 am wrote:
Sorry, this dosn't work. In order to make it work you need something that actually depends on nobody but yourself, like maybe your favorite color or something like that. The fact is that even if it is unlikely or unusual you can find out that you are a bachelor or married when you did not know that to be the case. Two scenarios present themselves....



Well, thank fook someone has the answer, after a lot of thought, I presume.

But, yes but, according to 18th century dictionaries (let us suppose) syphilis is a disease symptomized by "warts on the balls, pain in the urethra, and burglarizing BiV's home (for a cure I suppose)".

Let's say Joe Lomax had all these symptoms, but not the virus we now consider the cause of syphilis.

Did he have syphilis?
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby NoShips on July 9th, 2017, 10:32 am 

Is anyone who matches the symptoms a sufferer of the disease?

We await your confident, nay definitive, response.

You ever doubt yourself dude?

I see no symptoms of diffidence myself.
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby NoShips on July 9th, 2017, 10:36 am 

Now you're in a predicament, dude.

If you say "Yes, he did have syphillis. He matched the symptoms"

Just watch what a shark like Lomax can do to a man like yourself.

Me? One leg left left.
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby Sivad on July 9th, 2017, 4:11 pm 

NoShips » July 9th, 2017, 7:30 am wrote:Let's say Joe Lomax had all these symptoms, but not the virus we now consider the cause of syphilis.

Did he have syphilis?


What if he was infected but showed no symptoms?

Essentialism has proven problematic even in the realm of physical diseases(Nesse, 2001;Scadding, 1996). Even in the most archetypal cases of "disease," for example--a bacterial infection--it is impossible to define the disease category in a way that corresponds to the state of nature and is free of human value assumptions(Smith, 2001). The disease is not the presence of bacteria, as perfectly healthy people have the bacteria in their system. Rather, the disease is an interaction effect, which emerges from the presence of bacteria and immunological weakness, among other factors. In short, diseases have multiple causes even in the simplest of cases; therefore to define them as having simple reified essences is inappropriate at best.


Quine weighs in (Youtube 1 minute)
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby Sivad on July 9th, 2017, 5:05 pm 

So these days we define syphilis as the disease caused by the bacterium, but it wouldn't be incorrect to define the disease by it's symptoms, it would only be less useful. In the 18th century Joe Lomax would have syphilis and in the 21st he wouldn't. It all depends on the definition you're working with.
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby Braininvat on July 9th, 2017, 6:37 pm 

Mod note: Noships received a 1 day ban after an interaction in another thread (with another mod). Just noting this, so that a temporary silence from him will not be misconstrued.

Back to topic: certainly useful to define something as complex as a disease by having a list of what are necessary, but not sufficient, conditions. Both the symptoms, and the virus or bacterium, would go on that list. With disease, I can imagine a third entry on the list, viz. the virus is active, since one could be a carrier of a disease and also happen to have another disease-causing agent which just happened to present with the same symptoms. In that case, we would have to say that Joe has Dismukulosis if, and only if, he presents symptoms, has the Dismukulon virus, and targeted tissues show indication of the Dismukulon bug actively reproducing and squirting signature toxins. Otherwise, he could have pseudo-Dismukulosis, which is caused by another bug, known to clinicians as "Betty." From that perspective, some sufferers of Dismukulosis in the 18th century and into the 19th, were likely suffering from Betty, even though they may have been carriers of Dismukulosis.

The point being that medicine, and science generally, keep drilling down deeper. If that leads to causal complexity, and nonlinear webs of causative factors, then it does seem as if "essence" has seen better days.
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby Sivad on July 9th, 2017, 7:00 pm 

Some definitions become obsolete and others are proven incorrect. Syphilis defined as a set of symptoms is just obsolete, but any definition that included an erroneous etiology, like miasma or out of whack humors, would always be false.

Braininvat » July 9th, 2017, 3:37 pm wrote:
The point being that medicine, and science generally, keep drilling down deeper. If that leads to causal complexity, and nonlinear webs of causative factors, then it does seem as if "essence" has seen better days.


A chief difficulty in nosology is that diseases often cannot be defined and classified clearly, especially when cause or pathogenesis are unknown. Thus diagnostic terms often only reflect a symptom or set of symptoms (syndrome).

Traditionally diseases were defined as syndromes by their symptoms. When more information is available, they are also defined by the damage they produce. When cause is known, they are better defined by their cause, though still important are their characteristics.

Probably the last described kind of diseases are molecular diseases, defined by their molecular characteristics. This was introduced in November 1949, with the seminal paper, "Sickle Cell Anemia, a Molecular Disease",[1] in Science magazine, Linus Pauling, Harvey Itano and their collaborators laid the groundwork for establishing the field of molecular medicine.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nosology
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby Sivad on July 9th, 2017, 7:54 pm 

Lomax » July 5th, 2017, 4:19 am wrote:Well exactly - that's why calling a definition analytic wouldn't preclude us from going on to learn the synthetic stuff. It'd just mean nothing we learned could provoke us to change the definition (itself a boggling scenario, but a different matter).


An analytic statement is just one that contains the predicate in the subject. Defining bachelor as an unmarried man may be vague or imprecise but the statement "All bachelors are unmarried" is a definitional truth. We could exclude the Pope for ineligibility, we can draw distinctions between bachelors and widowers, we can broaden and/or narrow the scope of the term however we like because 'bachelor' is just an abstract concept that is whatever we define it to be. Its ontology is purely social, it has no physical referent. So we can't learn anything more about the term, but we can definitely amend or alter its definition to better suit our purposes.
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby Lomax on July 9th, 2017, 9:32 pm 

Sivad » July 10th, 2017, 12:54 am wrote:
Lomax » July 5th, 2017, 4:19 am wrote:Well exactly - that's why calling a definition analytic wouldn't preclude us from going on to learn the synthetic stuff. It'd just mean nothing we learned could provoke us to change the definition (itself a boggling scenario, but a different matter).


An analytic statement is just one that contains the predicate in the subject.

Now you assume what we have to prove. How do we know whether a predicate is "contained" in the subject? Anyway, "1 = 1" is not of subject-predicate form. Is it therefore synthetic?

The more salient point is that NoShips was making a stronger claim - the claim that if "All bachelors are unmarried men" (refine to taste) is analytic then we cannot learn anything more about bachelors. I fail to see how this stands. We can learn that I am a bartender and that previous Pope was covering up for paedophiles. So Mister Ships's claim is too bold - it would only follow that our education would not lead us to "remove" the predicate from the subject, whatever that, intensionally speaking, means.
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby Sivad on July 10th, 2017, 12:43 am 

Lomax » July 9th, 2017, 6:32 pm wrote:Now you assume what we have to prove. How do we know whether a predicate is "contained" in the subject?

We use unmarried in place of bachelor in a sentence and find that the meaning is preserved.

Anyway, "1 = 1" is not of subject-predicate form. Is it therefore synthetic?


That would be an a priori axiom.

The more salient point is that NoShips was making a stronger claim - the claim that if "All bachelors are unmarried men" (refine to taste) is analytic then we cannot learn anything more about bachelors. I fail to see how this stands. We can learn that I am a bartender and that previous Pope was covering up for paedophiles. So Mister Ships's claim is too bold - it would only follow that our education would not lead us to "remove" the predicate from the subject, whatever that, intensionally speaking, means.


I don't see how there could be anything more to be learned about the meaning of bachelor beyond an exhaustive definition of the term? We could learn about the social or psychological effects of bachelorhood, we could learn how people go about as bachelors, but none of that would be directly relevant to concept, would it?
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby Lomax on July 10th, 2017, 7:13 am 

Sivad » July 10th, 2017, 5:43 am wrote:
Lomax » July 9th, 2017, 6:32 pm wrote:Now you assume what we have to prove. How do we know whether a predicate is "contained" in the subject?

We use unmarried in place of bachelor in a sentence and find that the meaning is preserved.

Again, you assume what we need to prove. Are the terms synonymous or not? How do we show that they are? In short, how do we find that the meaning is preserved?

Sivad » July 10th, 2017, 5:43 am wrote:
Lomax » July 9th, 2017, 6:32 pm wrote:Now you assume what we have to prove. How do we know whether a predicate is "contained" in the subject?
I don't see how there could be anything more to be learned about the meaning of bachelor beyond an exhaustive definition of the term? We could learn about the social or psychological effects of bachelorhood, we could learn how people go about as bachelors, but none of that would be directly relevant to concept, would it?

I don't follow. Would it be irrelevant if all and only bachelors could fly? Or would it mean we'd learned something about bachelors?
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Re: Dictionary definitions

Postby NoShips on July 10th, 2017, 7:30 pm 

Lomax » July 10th, 2017, 10:32 am wrote:
The more salient point is that NoShips was making a stronger claim - the claim that if "All bachelors are unmarried men" (refine to taste) is analytic then we cannot learn anything more about bachelors. I fail to see how this stands. We can learn that I am a bartender and that previous Pope was covering up for paedophiles. So Mister Ships's claim is too bold - it would only follow that our education would not lead us to "remove" the predicate from the subject, whatever that, intensionally speaking, means.


I'm not really making any claims, Mr Lomax, unless "My confusion is multipharaoheous" counts. Just trying to get a better grip on this stuff. Not even sure if I'm a bachelor any more. Damn your Vulcan logic, Quine.

I did get Prinz's book from the library, though. No pictures, dammit!

Seems to me his position might be close to Kuhn's. We learn concepts by exemplars, not definitions. (only on page 4 so far though)

"Look! That's an orang utan, son."

"I see. What about that creature over there with orange hair? Is that an orang utan too, Dad?"

"No, son. That's the president."
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