[quickphilosophy] Re: Fodor on Concepts IV: Circularity

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 15 Sep 2010 15:03:35 -0000

Thanks, Neil.  I generally agree with your view that use isn't *completely* 
constitutive of meaning, but, whatever W's position might be on that, Quine's 
and Davidson's are quite clearly in favor of there being nothing else to 
meaning but various behaviors (or dispositions to them).  I'm curious as to how 
the orthodox Quinean/Davidsonian might reply to Fodor's attack--or if he's 
really done them in.  Does the Fodor argument rely on synonymy?  If so, they'd 
certainly sneer at that...


--- In quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, "iro3isdx" <xznwrjnk-evca@...> wrote:
> --- In quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, "walto" <calhorn@> wrote:
> > responding to
> http://groups.yahoo.com/group/quickphilosophy/message/220
> > Walter:
> > So, the question is, I guess, how would the Witters, Quineans,
> > and Davidsonians respond to this attack?
> I wouldn't put myself in any of those groups.  But I'll comment 
> relative to my understanding of Wittgenstein.  That will probably 
> reflect my own views more than those of Wittgenstein.
> > Walter:
> > Fodor really may make a good case against Witt. who does often
> > suggest that that use isn't just what we look for in order to
> > determine the meaning, but just IS the meaning.
> When Wittgenstein says that meaning is use, I don't take him as  saying
> that use is constitutive of meaning.  Rather, I see him as  advising
> against attempting the kind of detailed analysis that others  (Kripke,
> for example) have attempted.
> Here's an analogy, though perhaps a poor one.  We might say that playing
> a violin is getting the right notes.  But nobody would say that getting 
> the right notes is constitutive of violin playing. Rather, violin
> playing  is an art form, not a technology.  So what is constitutive of
> violin  playing will vary from one artist to the next.  Getting the
> right notes  might be about as far as we can analyze it, but it doesn't
> follow that  there is nothing more.
> I view Wittgenstein as seeing meaning in terms of an art form which 
> cannot be fully analyzed because it differs from artist to artist  (i.e.
> from person to person).  So that leaves "meaning is use"  as the point
> where different artists diverge, and therefore the  limit of where we
> can take our analysis.
> I would say the same about concepts.  In some sense, having a  concept
> is artistic rather than technological.  I'm an educator  in real life,
> and currently teaching a computer science class  on networking.  I see
> my job not as communicating facts - they can  look up facts whenever
> they need them -- but as helping my students  build the base of concepts
> that they need to use those facts.  But I  cannot give them
> specifications of the concepts that they will need,  because concepts
> are not like that.  Rather, the classroom has to  provide an environment
> where they can build their own concepts.
> Regards,
> Neil

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