[lit-ideas] Re: What is information?

  • From: Walter Okshevsky <wokshevs@xxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2006 13:58:13 -0230 (NDT)

No blank stare from me here. On a first reading, I believe Donal's post
below is a lucid and  persuasive rebuttal of my hypothesis. To weave
threads together, I think the example of "sexuality" also illustrates
his case well. (And if you're Canadian, you and Stephen Harper might apply
Donal's account to "marriage." Yes, same sex marriage talk is back.)

Thank you, Donal; that was very instructive (on the particular topic at
hand.) Your memory is also impressive.

Speaking of "at hand," (vorhandensein), "Martin" refers to Martin
Heidegger who made the claim that language thinks us rather than the

Walter C. Okshevsky
Memorial University

On Thu, 5 Oct 2006, Donal McEvoy wrote:

> > > This view is contrasted with non-essentialism which states
> > > that for any given entity there are no specified traits
> > > which that entity must have to to be defined as that entity.
> > > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essentialism
> > >
> >
> > W: Regarding the last sentence: But isn't that property one that is being
> > claimed to be essentially shared by all entities? The claim identifies a
> > property all entities have in common: all entities exhibit the property of
> > having no traits necessary for their being the entities they are.
> This is not correct a paraphrase I fear.
> It may be that certain entities must have certain traits in order to be that
> entity: for example, an entity like a universal law must have the 'trait' of
> having universal rather than more localised application; a certain element
> must have the 'trait' of a certain atomic number; light must have the trait
> of a certain speed if it is to be light etc.
> What does not follow is that these entities *must be defined* this way. They
> may be defined this way. They may not. The point about entities not having
> any necessary definition is not a point that they necessarily always lack any
> definite traits (depending on how we define them or theorise them) but that
> it is not the case that a certain word or concept or term must necessarily be
> used to refer to those entities or that the terms etc. we normally use to
> refer to such entities cannot be used in a different way (I might call my
> partner 'my light' though s/he moves slightly slower than the speed of light
> as used a physical constant).
> Walter's attempts to discern a kind of Russellian paradox here (a la 'Is the
> set of sets that are not members of themselves a member of itself?') and a
> kind of incoherence (a la 'If all entities necessarily lack any necessary
> qualities then that is a quality they possess of necessity') seems to me
> unsuccessful. Entities, such a light, may have necessary 'traits' or they may
> not (depending how we use the term 'light', our theories etc.).
> Whatever. Essentialism in terms of "definition" is that there is a kind of
> *conceptual necessity* here. Anti-essentialism denies there is such a
> 'conceptual necessity' while admitting that we can (if we want) approach
> entities *as though* their character is established by 'conceptual necessity'
> (although this is in fact not true necessity but merely stipulation as to how
> to use words) and that we can theorise that certain entities have necessary
> traits.
> As a result I do not think Walter has shown that anti-essentialism must be
> wrong because it is a denial of a claim that
> > itself presupposes the truth or necessity of
> > the
> > claim being denied,
> Also I don't know who "Martin" is or what profundity or otherwise lies in
> Walter's suggestion that:-
> > Perhaps language and/or reason thinks us more than we think it/them (to
> > borrow
> > and turn a remark by Martin).
> I mean what "thinks us"?
> Donal
> Thinking of blaming my thinking on what "thinks us" if I can only think what
> this thought means
> while feeling Walter's post, like earlier ones of his and Phil's, arises from
> confusion about the difference between language and non-linguistic reality
> England
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