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On Language And Knowledge


Malaikat Maut

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To carry over a discussion that was raised in Mur's Christianity and Alchemy thread:

[quote name='(Zl-eye-f)-nea' timestamp='1291669189' post='74683']
The thing is...if you want to get really pedantic on the philosophy of language...language is nothing but interpretation. The intentional and effective fallacy. You can never speak or write and truly convey a meaning without an influence from the reader or listener interfering let alone the matter of your own sub-meaning influencing how or what you say. The concept itself as you put it is untouchable and indescribable, the interpretation itself is the only way to achieve it, call the bible a koan if you like. It isn't that it is conventient, which I object to just as much, it is that that is the nature of the beast.

Historically speaking of events, Marcion is the man in charge here.

I do not disagree that there are, as an example, objective morals. It is nigh on impossible to say they arn't objective if you dig deep enough bible or not. However, that isn't to say the bible is them or speaks of them anymore than looking at my table teaches me things. Maybe it makes it easier, maybe it makes it easier to trip.

It's a brick wall no matter how you look at it, your bible is in your skull.

I know these are touchy subjects, and I'm sorry for those that knee jerk to what I just said. I'm not sorry for saying it though.

Z
[/quote]


[quote name='Malaikat Maut' timestamp='1291669944' post='74686']
Well, I'm willing to admit (and have) that language is, in itself, culturally bound on some level, but to say that language is >nothing< but interpretation seems false to me. I mean, even if that were the case, surely we all accept the same or similar presuppositions upon entering into a debate. For one thing, we all accept that English is the language to be spoken. Within that context alone the absolute meanings of words can be well established.

Again, there is going to be some manner of cultural ideology and social limitations upon our speech, but nowhere near the 100% your post seems to suggest. Surely two intelligent individuals can exchange information using language and avoid some manner or even all manner of interpretation. Bias, no certainly not. But interpretation, I believe that's a possibility. Just because I understand something doesn't mean I need to accept it.

If what you suggests is true (the way I understand it at least), then no one would ever learn or assimilate anything new...
[/quote]


[quote name='(Zl-eye-f)-nea' timestamp='1291671281' post='74689']
I'm literally giving you a pedantic piece of linguistic philosophy. I don't say it is correct, but there is some truth in it I feel. I don't want to go into the entire debate because...if we do...it will never end. It would at least need a new topic, at the very least.

Because of the above, but also because I don't want to just say that and give you nothing to your very valid response - To respond very briefly: It doesn't mean you can assimilate nothing new, it's just that your newness doesn't come from where you might think it would come from if you don't think...if you get my meaning. Definitions of words are defined by words, which makes that particular quandry quite the deeply dug pit.


Z
[/quote]


Z,

This is something that interest me, so I wanted to give you the opportunity to more fully expand on the topic. Also, I wanted to get the opinions of others...the more the merrier, I say.

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"Well, I'm willing to admit (and have) that language is, in itself, culturally bound on some level, but to say that language is >nothing< but interpretation seems false to me. I mean, even if that were the case, surely we all accept the same or similar presuppositions upon entering into a debate. For one thing, we all accept that English is the language to be spoken. Within that context alone the absolute meanings of words can be well established.

Again, there is going to be some manner of cultural ideology and social limitations upon our speech, but nowhere near the 100% your post seems to suggest. Surely two intelligent individuals can exchange information using language and avoid some manner or even all manner of interpretation. Bias, no certainly not. But interpretation, I believe that's a possibility. Just because I understand something doesn't mean I need to accept it.

If what you suggests is true (the way I understand it at least), then no one would ever learn or assimilate anything new..."

Language, any language is flawed. It is why music is the only true identity of feelings, and or thoughts, without interpretation of the other. It is only interpretation of ones self. Which is what music is designed in nature to do. You are supposed to listen to it and not thing about what that person may be trying to say with the music, but what you are saying yourself by listening to the music. Of course for this to be infallible the music has to be without words.

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(Mali...based on title descript...a priori=cher, get it? little Philo student joke for you)

One of the arguments on this theory (Spinoza stylie):-

- Language is a series of words based on generally accepted meanings
- Generally accepted meanings are two fold, either based on experience or a conceptual basis
- Experiencial meanings are subject to the matter of physical interpretations
- Conceptual meanings are subject to a lack of physical tie
- A lack of physical tie means they can only be described, drawn, played etc
- A lack of physical tie therefore makes language a tautology in a human system when it comes to conceptual matters (big flaw here, lets pick at it.)


away from that:

"Surely two intelligent individuals can exchange information using language and avoid some manner or even all manner of interpretation." - how?

Z

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[quote name='(Zl-eye-f)-nea' timestamp='1291673546' post='74698']
(Mali...based on title descript...a priori=cher, get it? little Philo student joke for you)[/quote]
No :blush:

[quote]"Surely two intelligent individuals can exchange information using language and avoid some manner or even all manner of interpretation." - how?[/quote]

I'll tackle this first because I feel I can tie it in to Mur's and Awi's recent posts on the other topic as well.

I have a few thoughts on this. First, I think that definitions and presuppositions can be established such that information can be exchanged objectively. Depending on how this is done, it can be very cumbersome and impractical, which is why we rely on generally accepted definitions. For instance, the sentence:

The man ran fast.

May become:

The Homo sapien male propelled himself forward, upon his two legs, at a velocity of 1 meters per second.

You're free to interpret that any way you'd like...you'll just be straight wrong as each term has an objective meaning which can likely be implied or ascertained purely from context.

My second thought is that pertinent information can be objectified or defined and the remainder can be left to interpretation, as it won't change the outcome. This is going to depend on the topic of conversation, which will obviously dictate what is and is not important data. To continue with my original sentence, imagine we were debating what it means to be fast. Our example, "the man ran fast", may become "Something moved at a velocity of 1 meters per second."

To tie this in to Mur's Pretzel (a new philosophical construct!), I believe that there are concepts and entities that can be objectively defined by language simply because of how I understand identity. Mur argued that the hole in a pretzel can't be defined independantly and that neither can a pretzel be defined independantly of its hole. I disagree. To use my previous two points, consider the sentence, "I ate a pretzel". The pretzel can be further explained in order to remove the need for interpretation. Simple use of the word "traditional" pretzel may imply the need for a hole and a twist or two, and the words soft or hard can further describe it. The words pretzel rod, pretzel bite, pretzel stick, can be used or even further expanded (using exact measurements perhaps?) as necessary to succinctly define the exact type of pretzel - which can also be defined in terms of ingredients used.

To use my second point, perhaps the speaker doesn't care what his audience thinks of the pretzel, as it isn't important or doesn't change the information being transferred. Perhaps contextually the notion "I ate" is all that really needs to be communicated.

[quote]One of the arguments on this theory (Spinoza stylie):-
- Language is a series of words based on generally accepted meanings
- Generally accepted meanings are two fold, either based on experience or a conceptual basis
- Experiencial meanings are subject to the matter of physical interpretations
- Conceptual meanings are subject to a lack of physical tie
- A lack of physical tie means they can only be described, drawn, played etc
- A lack of physical tie therefore makes language a tautology in a human system when it comes to conceptual matters (big flaw here, lets pick at it.)
[/quote]
I would challenge you to express a purely abstract, conceptual matter that can in no way be tied to objective or even physical entities. Even infinity can be imagined within the physical world. Stand between two mirrors.

Edited by Malaikat Maut
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Language and knowledge...

On one hand, I don't believe that everybody is capable of grasping the same concepts. This includes the concept of understanding understanding. People don't necessarily know that their interpretation of a concept is different from what the 'teacher' is trying to explain, or 'teachers' might not know that their 'pupils' don't get it. - One of the reasons I hate telephones is that this problem occurs a lot more often when conversing through them. -
If there is an inherent limitation on what knowledge people can grasp, then language is doomed to fail. (Of course this is a tautology, but it seems interesting to note that the problem might not lie in language.)

On the other hand, I'd like to ask 'how do we store knowledge in our brain' and more precisely 'is that not language?' If we take language in the broad sense, meaning spoken language, written language, pictures, sheet music, music, sounds... then it seems to me knowledge always exists in some kind of language and thus knowledge is never able to escape the constraints of language.

Expanding further on the image of pictures: people with Daltonism are physically incapable of differentiating red and green. We are born into this world with senses and gather information by using these senses. Somehow language, writing, drawing, singing developed to assist us in storing and conveying information. It is difficult to label things as a priori, inborn, nature verus cultural, nurture. Some animals have extensive language and are able to comprehend us (at least we think). On the other hand, some humans are incapable of understanding green. Yet more complicated, we've devised tests to see if someone has Daltonism. Yet I do think that is a fairly recent phenomenon and there might be differences between people we never detected and some we never will.

[quote name='Malaikat Maut' timestamp='1291733843' post='74755']
I would challenge you to express a purely abstract, conceptual matter that can in no way be tied to objective or even physical entities. Even infinity can be imagined within the physical world. Stand between two mirrors.
[/quote]
Certainly you jest? To refute that concepts exist that are without a physical tie and that cannot be expressed properly by words, you dare us to name one?

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[quote name='Kafuuka' timestamp='1291754073' post='74775']
Certainly you jest? To refute that concepts exist that are without a physical tie and that cannot be expressed properly by words, you dare us to name one?
[/quote]
I've been thinking about it all day, and I haven't come up with anything that I can't explain in objective terms. Perhaps not physical terms, but in an objective and universally understood way.

The topic was originally interpretation and not knowledge alone, mind you.

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Firstly, in this case I'm not taking language in the broader sense. I am literally talking about words - due to where the conversation originated. To be specific, a word, a series of sounds and/or symbols grouped together to form something that is used to try to express something or gesture to something. So a question - what is the difference between the sound of words and the sound of music? Or the picture of a man and the word man?

[quote name='Malaikat Maut' timestamp='1291733843' post='74755']
I would challenge you to express a purely abstract, conceptual matter that can in no way be tied to objective or even physical entities. Even infinity can be imagined within the physical world. Stand between two mirrors.
[/quote]

You seem to think a physical entity is objective for some reason. I'd like to ask how? Kafuuka has already mentionned some of the issues inherent here. The old you see red I see green argument for one.

You also just refuted your own argument by using the word 'imagined', of course you can imagine infinity - but you can't ever experience it, because it has no start nor end, how then to know you are experiencing infinity? Are you suggesting imagination is a physical entity? Incidentally, how would you expect me to express a purely abstract conceptual matter when my claim is that this is impossible through language? This should be my challenge to you, not the other way around. When I say tied to I mean in the sense that infinity, perhaps you can see things that make you think of the concept but you cannot see the concept itself, there is no physical tie (the hole in the pretzel) but with a word like Chair, you can definitely say there is a physical tie to the word.

If I take a noun like 'Chair' you might instantly assume you know what a chair is and that when you say the word chair everyone knows what you are talking about - yet you yourself with your pretzels without holes showed how easy it is for a mismatch. Chair could mean just anything you sit on, it could mean something with a back and four legs, it could mean many things. I could talk about my chair and you would think it was the 'average' chair you have come to associate with the word, but my 'average' chair is different.


Z

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I'm going to reorder your post to group similar thoughts.

[quote name='(Zl-eye-f)-nea' timestamp='1291759335' post='74792']
You seem to think a physical entity is objective for some reason. I'd like to ask how?[/quote]

My thoughts on objective reality are tied directly to my Christian faith. The two are inseparable, as the infallibility of scripture is a fundamental tenet. God exists objectively as does the matter and energy of his creation as well as the physical laws He's established to govern them.

Apart from that, I feel that the only logical positions are that everything exists or nothing. The subjective middle-ground is a philosophical cop-out which invariably leads one to circular reasoning, contradiction, and other logical instabilities. First and foremost, it laughs in the face of physics...which is kinda a big no no for most rational individuals. I've heard people try to argue that quantum mechanics allows or even necessitates subjective reality. Particle duality and wave-form collapse and all that. The issue then becomes that you're trying to leverage a branch of science that's famed for making unfathomably precise and repeatable predictions about the tiniest pieces of our observable world. Also, no one on this board even comes close to understanding quantum mechanics.

In any case, if reality is subject to interpretation then you must accept that anything can be anything, which everyone knows is certainly not the case. If you and I were to take a Rorschach test, it would inspire us to imagine two entirely seperate things. However, we'd still be looking at black ink on white paper. I would never argue against the uniqueness of our thoughts, emotions, and experiences. It's just plain and simple that those things have no bearing on reality.

Skepticism is far and away the most easily defensible in terms of pure logic. It requires no assumptions. Most people realize that the only thing they can ever prove or verify to be absolutely true is their own existence. I can never prove to myself that anything beyond myself truly exists, and you can never prove it to me either because you exist beyond myself. Again, nothing ground breaking here, but the mind can fabricate everything that I perceive as reality, including sensory perception.

However, here I sit, typing on a keyboard and reading words on a screen that (hopefully) communicate meaning to another sentient entity. So, while skepticism is logically sound, it's highly impractical. Objectivism, on the other hand, requires few presuppositions. Mostly that sense perception is objective, and that the collective can be regarded as evidence or proof.

[quote]Kafuuka has already mentionned some of the issues inherent here. The old you see red I see green argument for one.[/quote]

Color can certainly be objectified. Red is light radiation with a wavelength between 480–405 THz while green exists between the frequencies ~575–525 THz. Objects that adsorb light radiation below and above 480 THz will appear red. There's no magic or mysticism to it, and, just like the Rorschach test, our individual perceptions of it don't at all change the reality. However, unlike the Rorschach test, color blindness has nothing to do with individuality or the subjectivity of our thoughts. It's a mechanical defect - one that Kafuuka admits can be tested for, which should immediately make the point that color is objective.


[quote]So a question - what is the difference between the sound of words and the sound of music? Or the picture of a man and the word man?[/quote]

Nothing. Sign language is a language, as is braille. Any symbol that holds a universally accepted meaning can be loosely defined as a "word" - accept that words, I would think, imply alphabetical symbols. I'm not a linguist...so I'm just guessing here.

[quote]You also just refuted your own argument by using the word 'imagined', of course you can imagine infinity - but you can't ever experience it, because it has no start nor end, how then to know you are experiencing infinity? Are you suggesting imagination is a physical entity?[/quote]
Well, my original premise was that people can communicate free of interpretation. I never claimed i could objectify abstracts, but rather communicate an abstract concept in an objective and understandable manner.

[quote]Incidentally, how would you expect me to express a purely abstract conceptual matter when my claim is that this is impossible through language? This should be my challenge to you, not the other way around.[/quote]
My proposal was that a pure abstract does not exist. I can't think of anything that I could not define using language, so why should I look for something I'm convinced doesn't exist when your argument depends on them?

"- Conceptual meanings are subject to a lack of physical tie
- A lack of physical tie means they can only be described, drawn, played etc
- A lack of physical tie therefore makes language a tautology in a human system when it comes to conceptual matters"

Of course, I can't truly articulate a concept, but that was never really my goal. I'm interested in communicating free of interpretation.

[quote]If I take a noun like 'Chair' you might instantly assume you know what a chair is and that when you say the word chair everyone knows what you are talking about - yet you yourself with your pretzels without holes showed how easy it is for a mismatch. Chair could mean just anything you sit on, it could mean something with a back and four legs, it could mean many things. I could talk about my chair and you would think it was the 'average' chair you have come to associate with the word, but my 'average' chair is different.[/quote]

We're back to my two previous two points. In the English language, the word chair has a fundamental definition. Some have two or more perhaps, but only one that is contextually appropriate. If the style of chair is pertinent to the discussion (or if the definition is in question), it can be discussed in no uncertain terms using language. It may be an oaken chair with the dimensions of "X" and a high back with further dimensions of "Y", four legs and a cushion upholstered in RED ;) silk. If the style of chair isn't important, then who cares what people interpret it as? Perhaps the point was simply that you sat on something.

Edited by Malaikat Maut
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[quote name='Malaikat Maut' timestamp='1291819639' post='74857']
I've heard people try to argue that quantum mechanics allows or even necessitates subjective reality. Particle duality and wave-form collapse and all that. The issue then becomes that you're trying to leverage a branch of science that's famed for making unfathomably precise and repeatable predictions about the tiniest pieces of our observable world. Also, no one on this board even comes close to understanding quantum mechanics.[/quote]
I loathe it when people try to use quantum mechanics to prove philosophical debates, without having ever studied quantum mechanics or philosophy. I am also very skeptical about the argument 'I have a degree in X'. However, I do have a degree in physics; I read somewhere one of our board members is a professor in quantum chemistry and there's probably more than one engineering student who took at least a basic course in quantum mechanics, reading this topic. If neither of us is close enough to understanding quantum, who is? Feynman?

[quote]Color can certainly be objectified. Red is light radiation with a wavelength between 480–405 THz while green exists between the frequencies ~575–525 THz. Objects that adsorb light radiation below and above 480 THz will appear red. There's no magic or mysticism to it, and, just like the Rorschach test, our individual perceptions of it don't at all change the reality. However, unlike the Rorschach test, color blindness has nothing to do with individuality or the subjectivity of our thoughts. It's a mechanical defect - one that Kafuuka admits can be tested for, which should immediately make the point that color is objective.[/quote]
While you say everybody on this forum is incapable of getting quantum, you also propose that everybody understands the physics of wavelengths. Explaining what Red and Green are, is highly depending on your audience. Worst case, they will not understand your objective definition. Even if they understand, they are not capable of imagining it. The only thing they can grasp is the difference in frequency and that they're incapable of visualizing it.

I also noted that Daltonism is a fairly recent discovery. Apparently it has first been described in 1798. For the majority of human history we were unaware of its existance. The notion that colour is related to wavelengths is also a recent phenomenon. It is not difficult to imagine that other concepts exist which we are unaware of and currently unable to express. Similar to Gödel's incompleteness work and the halting problem, it seems provable even that there will always be things that cannot be expressed.

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[quote name='Kafuuka' timestamp='1291834923' post='74877']
While you say everybody on this forum is incapable of getting quantum, you also propose that everybody understands the physics of wavelengths.
[/quote]
Not at all. Keep in mind my original premise was that, "two intelligent individuals can exchange information using language and avoid some manner or even all manner of interpretation". I never suggested that all parties would understand, but rather that objective terms could be used in order to remove any space for opinion. If someone needed to, they could research and verify the scientific definition of red, and they would then know in no uncertain terms what precisely I was talking about.

[quote]It is not difficult to imagine that other concepts exist which we are unaware of and currently unable to express. Similar to Gödel's incompleteness work and the halting problem, it seems provable even that there will always be things that cannot be expressed.[/quote]

Well, it makes sense that we shouldn't be able to express the unknown. However, you also wouldn't be able to acknowledge your inability to express it...because it's unknown :P

Edited by Malaikat Maut
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Science changes all the time, assuming it is correct just ignores where it comes from. Scientific measurements come from our physical experiences, we make machines that measure in a certain way, built in a certain way to achieve a certain result. Science, along with your argument, depends on the majority rules dictum - which is hardly evidence of objectivity.

I don't really know what you are talking about when you say 'pure abstracts' - something that has absolutely no link or pointer to or in the physical world in any way what-so-ever? I never mentionned anything like that. If you are talking about the flaw in the tautological statement, that all language is based on experience anyway, then this falls into the Green or Red area again and I refer you to the above. I never said you couldn't define things using language, I said you can't do it in a way that is totally devoid of interpretation.

No meaning is universally accepted, as I explained to you about the Chair. If definition is in question and your answer is to use language to solve this, you fall again into tautology and endless regress. The point that you sat on something is irrelivant here, I am talking about one single word - Chair, not a sentance. Chair isn't the verb to sit nor does this word hold a verb in it. Maybe it is better I pick a word for you that has no obvious attached function instead. A stone. If I say stone, and I do not point you to any particular stone, then to what do I refer? Is it some conglomerate of stone experiences? What is stoneness?

Z

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I don't usually get into these philisophical discussions, but somebody mentioned quantum mechanics.... ("I have a degree in X" -- PhD in P. Chem, and I have been a professor and I have taught graduate level QM, and I'm a member of multiple boards but not of anything here.).

I just wanted to point out that red has different physics depending on whether you are talking light or objects. The color wheel for mixing is very different if you use pigments or if you are mixing pure light.

And yes, chair and stone are both verbs. ;) And yes, we as humans will keep making up new meanings to our grunts and whistles. It's all in whether or not you have a meeting of minds - concerning which you can be sure that if you do, it is transitory and fragile.

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[quote name='(Zl-eye-f)-nea' timestamp='1291848985' post='74892']
Science changes all the time, assuming it is correct just ignores where it comes from. Scientific measurements come from our physical experiences, we make machines that measure in a certain way, built in a certain way to achieve a certain result. Science, along with your argument, depends on the majority rules dictum - which is hardly evidence of objectivity.[/quote]

Being an apologist, I often find myself debating or assuming the limitations of the scientific method. I'm well aware of its social boundaries, Hume's problem of induction, Godel's incompleteness theorems, etc. However, these all deal with the inability of science to ever >absolutely< prove what our objective reality is or where it came from. By definition, our perception of reality, or even our inability to fully perceive it, has no bearing on its objectivity. For thousands of years, humans considered the Earth to be flat. That common perception, nor the inability to measure it accurately, had any bearing on the fact that the Earth is - and always has been - spherical.

So, yes the scientific method is fallible. No, that in no way can be counted as evidence against objective reality.

[quote]I don't really know what you are talking about when you say 'pure abstracts' - something that has absolutely no link or pointer to or in the physical world in any way what-so-ever? I never mentionned anything like that.[/quote]
Oh, I must have misunderstood then.

[quote]If you are talking about the flaw in the tautological statement, that all language is based on experience anyway, then this falls into the Green or Red area again and I refer you to the above.[/quote]
And I would also, as I disagree that color is open for interpretation. Red will never be anything other than a light wave that falls within a narrow frequency band. The universe cares not what you see...it simply is what it is.

[quote]I never said you couldn't define things using language, I said you can't do it in a way that is totally devoid of interpretation.[/quote]
Using language or using single words? Give me an example of something that can not be defined by language.

[quote]I am talking about one single word - Chair, not a sentance.[/quote]
In this case, it sounds as though we are holding two seperate debates. Of course few (any?) single words are devoid of interpretation. My argument is that people can communicate using language - series of words - in order to remove interpretation.

[quote]Chair isn't the verb to sit nor does this word hold a verb in it.[/quote]
I can chair a board. :P

[quote]Maybe it is better I pick a word for you that has no obvious attached function instead. A stone. If I say stone, and I do not point you to any particular stone, then to what do I refer?

Is it some conglomerate of stone experiences? What is stoneness?[/quote]

As Fyrd pointed out, stone is a verb also. As in, "I will stone you to death". However, I concede that a single word may not be used to communicate a universal meaning. That was never my point.

[quote name='Fyrd Argentus' timestamp='1291851969' post='74896']
I just wanted to point out that red has different physics depending on whether you are talking light or objects. The color wheel for mixing is very different if you use pigments or if you are mixing pure light.[/quote]

Perhaps you'd be willing to give a short explanation of how they are different? Not that I disagree - it's just something I'm unfamiliar with and would be interested to know. I have a feeling that your use of the words, "different physics" may be misleading in the context of the current debate.

[quote name='phantasm' timestamp='1291983811' post='75038']
What is stoneness?

I have an answer for that :P
[/quote]
That's stonedness, and is something entirely different. <_<

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Thank you Phantasm...for your fantastic contribution to the discussion :P

You can chair a board, I can stone you, but stone and chair are not verbs in and of themselves. The verb part doesn't even come from these words themselves linguistically.

If a single word cannot be used to communicate a universal meaning then a conglomerate of single words can't either, it just makes the situation worse instead of better. The fact that despite the amount of words I used to explain the words I was using still ended with two people commenting on verbs should at least [u]partially[/u] demonstrate that.

Things can indeed be defined by language but not to an extent which is totally devoid of interpretation. Language itself is an experience for one thing.

How can you say the earth is and has always been spherical when we know this from scientific methods which are based on experience which we have agreed (as far as I can tell, I could be wrong?) is a flawed method? Years ago you would have ended that sentance with the word flat. The scientific method being fallible cannot necessarily be counted as evidence against objective reality, but in the same vein it also cannot be counted as evidence for it.

Our experience may indeed have no bearing on something's objectivity, but then how to know it is objective? There is a 'something' that causes an experience. A majority of people call this experience Red. Despite any divergance from this majority experience, the something remains as it is. You can see it as Red, I can see it as Green, but it is as it is regardless - I take this as your argument. Agree or disagree with that point, it is a different debate though, not one about language.

What is language based on is a subject I touched on in the first post I made here - it's an important one.

Z

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[quote]And I would also, as I disagree that color is open for interpretation. Red will never be anything other than a light wave that falls within a narrow frequency band. The universe cares not what you see...it simply is what it is.[/quote] "Red" may be a light band, but that doesn't mean the red I picture if I was colour-blind would be the same red you see if you are not, that red would always be the same red for me, but it would be a different one to you.

[quote]Perhaps you'd be willing to give a short explanation of how they are different? Not that I disagree - it's just something I'm unfamiliar with and would be interested to know. I have a feeling that your use of the words, "different physics" may be misleading in the context of the current debate[/quote] I do a little theatre tech work, playing with lights and such (is fun) so i might be able to say a little.
Mixing colours on a palette will create a middle colour, mixing light will create more of a merge of the two colours, the light waves will sometimes coincide making the peaks and dips longer, changing the colour, or cancel, or ignore each other, light also bends around each other, but yeah i see it as a little misleading

[quote]Language itself is an experience for one thing.[/quote] We are taught what words mean, if i am brought up believing that an elephant is actually called a horse, and you are talking to me about a horse, no matter how well you describe it in however much detail, i will still think it an elephant

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Primary colors for pigments, as in paint, are red, blue, yellow. You know, red plus yellow makes green.... etc.

Primary colors for making color negatives (as in film photography) are the opposite, green, orange, and purple. So a green filter plus an orange filer only lets through yellow....

LED's & TV phosphors follow a bit different rules too, green, blue, red mixing to give cyan, magenta, and yellow. This actually works due to the fact that the cone cells in your eyes are maximally stimulated by these 3 "primary" colors of light. Then your brain interprets color based on ratios of stimulation of those cone cells -- but only if you don't get too close and see the individual pixels.

An earlier post did allude to what I was touching on in the physics - is red a reference to the color of the light itself, or to the fact that a red object absorbs everything except the red, which it reflects? You can also have scattering effects in the sky - the blue is scattered, the red plows through, making blue skys and red sunsets. Then it depends on the ANGLE OF VIEW.... I won't even get into holograms....

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[quote name='(Zl-eye-f)-nea' timestamp='1292005365' post='75069']
If a single word cannot be used to communicate a universal meaning then a conglomerate of single words can't either, it just makes the situation worse instead of better. The fact that despite the amount of words I used to explain the words I was using still ended with two people commenting on verbs should at least [u]partially[/u] demonstrate that.[/quote]

I still disagree. I concede that single words can't be used but still maintain that definitions and presuppositions can be established for a conversation in order to remove confusion. I can't believe that there is no defeating your proposed infinite regress. Selecting the language as English is a big first step. You could go further and specify a particular dictionary of terms, which can be used as an absolute reference for that particular conversation. Based on the rules of the English language, context and sentence structure alone should be more than enough to discuss things with certainty...the fact that people have been using language to communicate even highly abstract topics for milenia should at least partially demonstrate that :P

[quote]Things can indeed be defined by language but not to an extent which is totally devoid of interpretation. Language itself is an experience for one thing.[/quote]
How not? I'll again ask for an example. Go ahead and give me a sentence that you think I'll be likely to misinterpret. Even if my initial interpretation is wrong, do you believe that you can not at all further explain it in order to allow me to understand?

[quote]How can you say the earth is and has always been spherical when we know this from scientific methods which are based on experience which we have agreed (as far as I can tell, I could be wrong?) is a flawed method? Years ago you would have ended that sentance with the word flat. The scientific method being fallible cannot necessarily be counted as evidence against objective reality, but in the same vein it also cannot be counted as evidence for it.[/quote]
What of simple observation? Posts prior I had stipulated that objectivism has one strong axiom - that sense perception is a valid means of determining truth within the world around us.

At this point, we've observed the world from every conceivable angle with telescopes and satellites. You yourself can see that every 16 miles or so the world dips beyond a horizon and that the Earth's water doesn't merely run off its surface. Explain those phenomena upon a flat Earth. I don't believe you can without creating further complexity...without making gross assumptions that further defy pure logic and empirical observation.

It's helpful also to consider some of the larger concepts at work here. We're discussing social subjectivism, but at certain periods there were societies who considered the Earth to be flat and others who did not. Was the Earth simultaneously flat and round? In the Western world we understand that the Earth is held aloft by the force of gravity. Some Hindu people believe that it rests on the back of a giant turtle. Can it possibly be both?

Perhaps we each experience our own reality, independent from that of everyone else? That too is unjustifiable. Infants and young toddlers can not conceive object permanence. This is the reason that peek-a-boo is such a hilarious game - they literally believe that you have vanished from the universe. So, when I cover my son's eyes...do I cease to exist? I don't perceive that I have, so can that contradiction possibly be justified? Even if I've truly vanished from my son's reality, who then is covering his eyes?

[quote]You can see it as Red, I can see it as Green, but it is as it is regardless - I take this as your argument. Agree or disagree with that point, it is a different debate though, not one about language. [/quote]
Right, a simple definition of objectivity is that, "what is is".

[quote name='Grido' timestamp='1292045276' post='75116']
"Red" may be a light band, but that doesn't mean the red I picture if I was colour-blind would be the same red you see if you are not, that red would always be the same red for me, but it would be a different one to you.[/quote]
But the frequency doesn't change. No matter how I perceive it, it is what it is.

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It is what it is, but it would mean something different, if we are talking about language, interpretation and such, then surely that is the point? the colour would mean something different to you and a colour-blind person, because you would interpret the colour differently to each other?

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[quote name='Grido' timestamp='1292102569' post='75170']
It is what it is, but it would mean something different, if we are talking about language, interpretation and such, then surely that is the point? the colour would mean something different to you and a colour-blind person, because you would interpret the colour differently to each other?
[/quote]
Not if it were expressed purely mathematically. The numbers would always mean the same thing although their visual interpretation may be skewed. Again, not very practical all/most of the time - but really this entire debate was little more than pedantry.

Even if I concede to this single case, you're still talking about a rare mechanical/biological defect - something that, again, can be tested for and diagnosed. The fact that someone can look at your eye and tell you, "what you see as red is really green", screams objectivity.

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[quote name='Malaikat Maut' timestamp='1292251376' post='75353']
Not if it were expressed purely mathematically. The numbers would always mean the same thing although their visual interpretation may be skewed. Again, not very practical all/most of the time - but really this entire debate was little more than pedantry.[/quote]
A purely physical definition of red is not as simple as you think. The emission spectrum of an object is among others dependent on the temperature of the object. A photon might experience a redness shift while traveling etc. Of course, you could make that 'colour x under conditions y and at timespace xyzt'. Such is not practical and for most people not possible. eg. the percentage of people aged < 12 year that would understand you is close to zero. And that is for one word... There's millions of words. Words that also change meaning over time slowly.

[quote]Even if I concede to this single case, you're still talking about a rare mechanical/biological defect - something that, again, can be tested for and diagnosed. The fact that someone can look at your eye and tell you, "what you see as red is really green", screams objectivity.
[/quote]
Time and again you are forgetting the word 'recently' and using self-fulling prophecies. "How about you go and explain me something you don't know?" That is the basically what you are asking us to do. It is not because we do not know it, that something does not exist. As a realist I think you agree to that. However, now that we have given a clear example of something that used to be unknown, you say 'aha but it is known now', whereas my point was that something which was once not known, exists, and certainly that leaves room for things not being known now.

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This may be going off on a tangent, but all this talk of red has me thinking of synaesthesia. Red may or may not be objectively the same for everyone, but if some people experience certain letters, numbers, musical sounds, etc. as more "red" than others, while other people don't have the same automatic association, then that suggests to me that human experience can vary a great deal.

Veering slightly closer to being on topic…

From what little I know of neurons and their connections, experience, association, and context are pretty important. Even if we are talking about the exact same type of chair, I might associate that chair with constantly stubbing my toe, you with a favourite relative who owned a similar piece of furniture. And my concept of "chair" might have been shaped over my lifetime (through exposure to usage of the word in particular contexts, etc) to be closer to "utilitarian object", yours to "a piece of decor that makes a statement about the owner's personality", maybe. This seems to lend weight to language being far more subjective than it would seem on a quick glance through a dictionary.

All that being said...

We all live in the same world; we all spend a heck of a lot of time dealing with conspecifics to whom we need to communicate a variety of meanings, sometimes with great urgency; under these circumstances we kind of have to be pretty good at wielding language as a blunt instrument, getting our intended meanings across "well enough" to serve our needs.

Does it matter if your fundamental experience of certain words or concepts is different from mine? Perhaps, if it leads one of us to make connections or act in a way that the other feels is bizarre, unpredictable, or inappropriate - or during the moment when our conversation hits a snag, when we realize that we're not talking about the same thing, and that we need to "recalibrate" or at the very least figure out where the misunderstanding came from.

That is, I think it doesn't matter if our interpretations are different, unless we notice that there's a difference. And then the very fact that we notice such a thing means our understanding of the word shifts slightly; from there we can seek to expand our own understanding to the point where our different interpretations are brought close enough that the difference doesn't functionally/practically matter anymore. (Or, if that's not possible, then we can at least refine our mental model of the other person's understanding through analysis of further mismatches.)

If those moments of realization never come, we could be blissfully unaware that we're misunderstanding each other. We could all be doing exactly that, right now. But if you can go an entire lifetime *meaning* something different, interpreting things in your own idiosyncratic way, but it never *matters* enough for anyone to notice… is the difference in interpretation relevant? I'm having trouble thinking of an example where it would be, but you guys seem to be far better read than me on topics such as these…


(By the way, hello, I think this is my first post in the forum :)

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^ Welcome to the thread and to the forums. Great first post.

[quote name='Kafuuka' timestamp='1292274985' post='75387']
A purely physical definition of red is not as simple as you think. The emission spectrum of an object is among others dependent on the temperature of the object. A photon might experience a redness shift while traveling etc. Of course, you could make that 'colour x under conditions y and at timespace xyzt'.[/quote]

But those physics would only really come into play when discussing certain objects. It would have no discernible relevancy in everyday conversation. For instance, the color of my shirt is in no observable way impacted by the weather conditions of how fast I can run/drive/fly. Any topics being discussed that would require such accuracy would certainly be done so under the assumption that both parties know enough about them to, at least partially, understand radiation emissions.

[quote]Time and again you are forgetting the word 'recently' and using self-fulling prophecies. "How about you go and explain me something you don't know?" That is the basically what you are asking us to do. It is not because we do not know it, that something does not exist. As a realist I think you agree to that. However, now that we have given a clear example of something that used to be unknown, you say 'aha but it is known now', whereas my point was that something which was once not known, exists, and certainly that leaves room for things not being known now.
[/quote]

I don't disagree. However, the context of the language portion of the discussion (as we're also debating objective reality/philosophical realism) is that a conversation can be had wherein some or all interpretation would be removed. I don't deny that there are entities and concepts that are unknown to us, but only that we would not be discussing them in any meaningful way. Though even the unknown can be communicated, especially within a single conversation. My entire argument was that terms can be defined and presuppositions established in a way that allows two (or more) individuals to discuss things with no need for interpretation. I could define an entire hypothesis or contingency as simply, "X". Any time I typed "X" in the conversation, you would know precisely what it is that I was talking about.

There will always be colloquialisms and language will always be changing as a function of culture and society, but words can be given absolute (or close enough to it) meaning in order to exchange information. That's all I'm saying.

Edited by Malaikat Maut
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