[lit-ideas] easy

  • From: "[+1] 9 1 9 5 9 9 7 0 6 5 {palma@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx}" <palma@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2007 16:27:29 -0400 (EDT)

an easy way to test whether one can identify mental states indipendnetly
from their linguistic expressions:


"last night I shot an elephant in my pajamas. What he was doing in m y
pajamas is anybody's guees"
(wrongly) attributed to G. Marx

well, Consider the first clause of the sentence. It works and produces
its humour effect precisly because of its ambiguity (if you dop not see
it, you are language blind)
hence there are two mental states (menaings? expressions? propositions?
brain states?) that get to be linguistically expressed by on and only
a fortiori mental states are not identical with linguistic expressions,
since 2 is never equal to one.


On Wed, 3 Oct 2007, Donal McEvoy wrote:

> Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2007 08:58:10 +0100 (BST)
> From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
> Reply-To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Must the Word be Literate?
> Before getting to the point furthest below, just note my reservations on this
> which centre on why omniscience would render all knowledge 'analytic' and
> never 'synthetic'? Why? [Bearing in mind that 'premises' must be
> distinguished from 'definitions' and that 'premises' may embody 'synthetic'
> rather than definitional knowledge, for example].
> > From an earlier perspective, the language in question would, of
> > course, be the inerrant Word of God. And I think it was Leibniz who
> > pointed out, as Robert Paul has done, that it would consist entirely
> > of analytically true statements. It is only due to the limitations of
> > human understanding that any true statement appears to be synthetic.
> > Not being omniscient, we simply haven't grasped all the premises.
> I tend to agree with the thrust of this, however:-
> > Nowadays, we doubt the possibility of constructing this perfect
> > language. The incompleteness theorems imply that any attempt will end
> > in an infinite regress. But Wittgenstein's conclusion that we cannot
> > talk about the really important things is far from novel; it has been
> > the stock in trade of mystics for centuries. After all, "The Dao that
> > can be spoken is not the Dao." The true name of God is unsayable.
> Youser, youser, yahweh. Now to the end:-
> > My anthropological question is whether, empirically, there is any
> > evidence of people thinking this way about language in the absence of
> > writing. Or, in other words, is writing the model for the Word that
> > shapes the world but cannot, at the end of the day, comprehend it?
> How could this be tested "empirically"? In thinking "about language in the
> absence of writing" we are concerned about pre-literate societies - what
> records will they have left us, and insofar as we find such societies extant
> how could we test your question?
> My feeling is that the view/feeling that there is an 'unsayability' about
> things would have existed even in pre-literate societies - because, for
> example, we all experience this when we struggle to express ourselves in
> words [even before we are literate]; and in terms of religion etc. [as
> opposed to expressing 'pass the salt'] this struggle to express the
> transcendent in easy terms is particularly acute - so that, according to
> Wittgenstein in TLP as with many mystics before him, we may as well give up
> trying and just embrace the situation.
> Donal
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