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    Not completely lost and confused? What do you think is the point of philosophy?
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    In response to that, what is the point of life?
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    Life is what happens while you're waiting for something else.
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    Not completely lost and confused? What do you think is the point of philosophy?
    :rolleyes:
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    (Original post by wanderer)

    My criteria for 'standard use,' which I persist in claiming is a type of meaning, is that a word like 'chair' refers to a class of objects (this is a helpful example as it doesn't have multiple 'standard uses' although of course some words do), and that the defining qualities of that class are shared knowledge. I'm not claiming perfect correspondence, but ask people what 'chair' means and they will give you similar answers. As I'm sure you'll be quick to point out, peoples definitions will be fuzzy at the edges and different from each other in various ways, but the core characteristics will be very similar. It is this similarity between the denotations people assign to words that define standard use, whereas personal differences are more to do with connotations.
    And my view is that the class is not defined by some shared knowledge but rather that they are all commonly referred to by the word 'chair'. There is no actual thing common to all chairs except that we call them such. Thus my argument is not really that fuzzy-around-the-edges definitions show that there is no class of chairs, but rather that the definition is not what we have in mind, it isn't what we mean by the word, rather it is a rough guide to how the word should be used if it is to be understood.

    I don't speak with the definition of each words I use in mind. Think how often people say something, and then realise they have contradicted themselves. Or realise what they have written makes no sense. Or realise that what they have said has consequences they didn't intend. This seems to suggest to me that what is important about a word is not the 'meaning' of the word but rather the use to which it is put and the way it is

    As such I still don't think it makes sense to talk of a standard use. That presupposes some kind of meaning of the word- it is used standardly when it has the meaning we commonly associate with the word. I'm just saying that I don't think words have meaning. A person might mean something by a word, but I don't think the meaning is in the word. So I'm not sure it makes sense to talk of a standard use. The class of chairs is bound by the use of 'chair', not by some predicate in common. So I think 'standard use' doesn't make sense unless there is a meaning of the word 'chair'- something I'm denying. Thus our disagreement I think. :confused:
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    they are all commonly referred to by the word 'chair'.
    Have you read any Wittgenstein? His argument about language games turns on this issue. There are long sections in Philosophical Investigations which address the idea of 'meaning'. Part of his thesis is that language is a game with shared and negotiated rules.
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    And my view is that the class is not defined by some shared knowledge but rather that they are all commonly referred to by the word 'chair'. There is no actual thing common to all chairs except that we call them such. Thus my argument is not really that fuzzy-around-the-edges definitions show that there is no class of chairs, but rather that the definition is not what we have in mind, it isn't what we mean by the word, rather it is a rough guide to how the word should be used if it is to be understood.
    Thats one way of putting it, but surely you recognise that such a guide must rely on something that 'we have in mind.' To use a word in a way that others will understand, you must know what they associate with that word. Without a concept in the mind, there is nothing on which to base such a 'rough guide.'

    (Original post by Calvin)
    I don't speak with the definition of each words I use in mind. Think how often people say something, and then realise they have contradicted themselves. Or realise what they have written makes no sense. Or realise that what they have said has consequences they didn't intend. This seems to suggest to me that what is important about a word is not the 'meaning' of the word but rather the use to which it is put and the way it is.
    You write about the mind as if it were simply our conscious thoughts, but there is much more to it than that. We have a substrate of concepts that lie below consciousness, that form the framework that allows it to operate. It isn't a clear logical system, but your examples of people getting meaning wrong don't lead to your conclusion that there is no meaning - quite the contrary. People realise they have made no sense because they understand the meaning of what the words they have used! If (as you seem to be) you use the term 'meaning' to refer to ideas or definitions in the mind, and contrast it to 'use,' you are asserting a false dualism - the two are completely interdependent.

    (Original post by Calvin)
    As such I still don't think it makes sense to talk of a standard use. That presupposes some kind of meaning of the word- it is used standardly when it has the meaning we commonly associate with the word. I'm just saying that I don't think words have meaning. A person might mean something by a word, but I don't think the meaning is in the word. So I'm not sure it makes sense to talk of a standard use. The class of chairs is bound by the use of 'chair', not by some predicate in common. So I think 'standard use' doesn't make sense unless there is a meaning of the word 'chair'- something I'm denying. Thus our disagreement I think. :confused:
    Well I think this pretty much follow from your other points about meaning, which I've already disagreed with. I'm not arguing that meaning is 'in' a word in any mystical way - simply that it, in its non-context-bound sense, is the standard use, what is common to the way it is used and experienced (for lack of a better word) by members of a linguistic community. The class of chairs is bound by the fact that the word 'chair' is used to refer to them yes, but this doesn't mean the only decision process for whether an object is a chair is to ask 'do people call it a chair?' Show someone a chair they've never seen before and ask them what it is. In the vast majority of cases, they'll say 'a chair.' Not a table, or a tree, or a bird. A chair. And that's without any conversational context, without any knowledge of what others call it, with nothing but their own store of concepts. Why do they pick that word and not others? Because of what it means.
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    (Original post by wanderer)
    Show someone a chair they've never seen before and ask them what it is.
    What if it's a person? I've been the chair of a few committees in my time.

    There's a problem - 'chair' is a word with many shades of meaning which depend on context.
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    Have you read any Wittgenstein? His argument about language games turns on this issue. There are long sections in Philosophical Investigations which address the idea of 'meaning'. Part of his thesis is that language is a game with shared and negotiated rules.
    Lol. Have you read the last few pages of the thread? Language games are Calvin's thang :p:

    (Btw, I am getting back to you on weeds at some point, Calvin...just v.busy with failing my philosophy exams at the moment :rolleyes: )

    (Original post by grumballcake)
    I trust this is smug enough to let me join? If not, what else do I have to do?
    :eek: Smug? US??!?? :eek:
    *looks as innocent and offended as possible*

    ZarathustraX
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    (Original post by ramroff)
    In response to that, what is the point of life?
    More words of unfathomable wisdom from our very own ramroff :rolleyes:

    ZarathustraX
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    (Original post by Zarathustra)
    Lol. Have you read the last few pages of the thread? Language games are Calvin's thang :p:

    (Btw, I am getting back to you on weeds at some point, Calvin...just v.busy with failing my philosophy exams at the moment :rolleyes: )

    ZarathustraX

    No problem toots. I'm strangely busy at the moment too despite the fact that I really shouldn't be. No more lectures or supervisions or anything, just never seem to have enough time anymore. Plus it's May Bumps at the moment and I kinda want to curl up into a ball and fall asleep all the time. Gaa! What happened to a relaxing summer? :rolleyes:
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    (Original post by Zarathustra)
    Lol. Have you read the last few pages of the thread? Language games are Calvin's thang
    I just read back and recognised his 'game' analogy as being lifted from Wittgenstein (it's in Philosophical Investigations p.27) but without attribution. Shame on you, Calvin.
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    I just read back and recognised his 'game' analogy as being lifted from Wittgenstein (it's in Philosophical Investigations p.27) but without attribution. Shame on you, Calvin.
    :eek:
    "LIFTED" !! Like some petty thief!!
    So insulted. I did too attribute. Something like 'to bring in Wittgensteins point with the word game" back on page 5. So :p:




    (Original post by Wanderer)
    People realise they have made no sense because they understand the meaning of what the words they have used! If (as you seem to be) you use the term 'meaning' to refer to ideas or definitions in the mind, and contrast it to 'use,' you are asserting a false dualism - the two are completely interdependent.
    I think perhaps people understand they have made no sense because they recognise that the words they have used could commonly be seen to be used in a different way that they didn't intend.

    (Original post by Wanderer)
    The class of chairs is bound by the fact that the word 'chair' is used to refer to them yes, but this doesn't mean the only decision process for whether an object is a chair is to ask 'do people call it a chair?' Show someone a chair they've never seen before and ask them what it is. In the vast majority of cases, they'll say 'a chair.' Not a table, or a tree, or a bird. A chair. And that's without any conversational context, without any knowledge of what others call it, with nothing but their own store of concepts. Why do they pick that word and not others? Because of what it means.
    I feel somehow that that's beside the point. Whether people will recognise something and call it a chair doesn't show that 'chair' has a meaning. It shows only that they are inclined to use the word 'chair' to denote an object such as that.
    They don't even need to know what others call it. When I say that it's all about use, it doesn't even need to be other peoples use, it can be their own use if you want. But of course language is a communicative act so words with no idea how other people use them are next to useless.
    They pick that word 'chair' of the words they use that one is commonly used to denote things like that. I see no need for a meaning of the word.
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    I see no need for a meaning of the word.
    Is anyone strictly disagreeing with you? Surely any word only has the meaning that it's given in use. That meaning can change (such as 'gay', for example) such that its previous use is all but forgotten. Thus any given sound is only a representation or shorthand for the underlying concept.

    Wittgenstein's problem is that he plays with words as if a single word could have meaning in and of itself. The game example is an example of how he ends up concluding that 'game' is fuzzy. But in my opinion that's only because he doesn't admit that 'game' might be a subtly different word in each context. I mean that it might sound the same and look the same on paper, but that doesn't mean that it's actually the same word. Take the 'chair' example - it's just one of a vast array of English words which is used in many similar and related contexts.

    Even 'mean' has three extra and different meanings, such as 'small', 'stingy' and 'average'.
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    Is anyone strictly disagreeing with you? Surely any word only has the meaning that it's given in use. That meaning can change (such as 'gay', for example) such that its previous use is all but forgotten. Thus any given sound is only a representation or shorthand for the underlying concept.

    Wittgenstein's problem is that he plays with words as if a single word could have meaning in and of itself. The game example is an example of how he ends up concluding that 'game' is fuzzy. But in my opinion that's only because he doesn't admit that 'game' might be a subtly different word in each context. I mean that it might sound the same and look the same on paper, but that doesn't mean that it's actually the same word. Take the 'chair' example - it's just one of a vast array of English words which is used in many similar and related contexts.

    Even 'mean' has three extra and different meanings, such as 'small', 'stingy' and 'average'.

    Hey, welcome to the discussion
    Yes, Wanderer is, and you too by the looks of it. I'm saying words don't have meanings at all. Only use. There is no definition of any word, all you can do is list the situations and sentences in which we can use it. So I am disagreeing that 'mean' has "three extra and different meanings"- it has no meaning at all.

    To be honest I brought in Wittgensteins point because I felt it was useful. I don't agree with many of his actual conclusions.
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    I'm saying words don't have meanings at all. Only use.
    I can see where you're coming from, but have you worked out where you're going with it? After all, it seems that you're arguing that each time we speak, we renegotiate the language. that clearly isn't the case for the vast bulk of speech. It would be impossible to communicate (or at least unbearably tedious) if we didn't acknowledge moderately static conventions.

    However, let's backtrack a bit. How are you defining 'meaning' then? If words don't have it, what is it about the usage of words that conveys meaning? If each word has no meaning, how can a sentence composed only of words acquire meaning of itself?

    I'd argue that a word is associated with a meaning when in a given context and perhaps that's what you mean by 'use'. However, if a word is to be used in a way which is different from its conventional usage, then it needs to be negotiated and explained.
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    Hey grumballcake. Good to see this society starting to take off! Calvin, will get back to you when I have time to put together an answer - RL a bit hectic at the mo.
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    *New to this philosophy thing, so be nice *

    A meaning is what we use words to encapsulate. I propose that a word is nothing more than an expression of something we both already understand while conversing, for example your definition of chair earlier, when we say chair, we are using that language to encapsulate the concept of 'chair' that we both share. That is the reason we have an agreed language, so that we can express ideas quickly by using a series of agreed upon meanings that we call words. So I say that a word is only an agreed upon method of communicating a meaning.

    On a different note, however, would you agree that language has a set of 'building blocks', metaphysical concepts such as hate, hope, and so on, which any attempt to define leads to nothing but circular definitions? If so, then this underlines my point that language is a way of expressing something agreed upon, either for reasons of convenience or necessity. I've discussed convenience earlier, but necessity is the other reason. To use the example of hate, we've probably all felt it, but can't truly express what it is, therefore we reach the use of a word to contain the idea of hate and make something inexpressible expressible.
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    Hey Lysander, nice to meet you
    (Original post by Lysander)
    A meaning is what we use words to encapsulate. I propose that a word is nothing more than an expression of something we both already understand while conversing, for example your definition of chair earlier, when we say chair, we are using that language to encapsulate the concept of 'chair' that we both share. That is the reason we have an agreed language, so that we can express ideas quickly by using a series of agreed upon meanings that we call words. So I say that a word is only an agreed upon method of communicating a meaning.
    But just to understand you're attitude here, what are you saying is the role of the word itself? What am I communicating to you when I say 'chair'? And how does that communication take place?

    (Original post by Grumballcake)
    However, let's backtrack a bit. How are you defining 'meaning' then? If words don't have it, what is it about the usage of words that conveys meaning? If each word has no meaning, how can a sentence composed only of words acquire meaning of itself?
    Defining 'meaning'? Ah I'm not falling for that. That's a trick question, because I'm denying definition is possible (doesn't half complicate the argument huh?)

    No prob Wanderer
    I need to get some sleep anyway. Last day of Bumps here I come. And it's going to be 30 degrees. Ouch! :eek:
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    Defining 'meaning'? Ah I'm not falling for that. That's a trick question, because I'm denying definition is possible (doesn't half complicate the argument huh?)
    Not really. It simply shows that you haven't really thought your argument through. If you cannot tell me what you mean by meaning, then your whole thesis fails.
 
 
 
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