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Tag Archives: THEORY OF LANGUAGE

For you to learn a new language you could first memorize a lot of words, then force yourself to use some abstract meaningless grammar rules, then fix the crooked pronunciation this whole thing is bound to distil in you. There are many many schools that follow this (let’s say) strange procedure.

There is a short-cut. The basic mechanism of our use of language is something i will (imprecisely) call “frames of mind”. And the trick is to assume the frame-of-mind of the new language before you understand it. Read More »

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Old logics and old dialectics organized the kinds of arguments in such a way that the worst possible dirty trick in the bag was the ad hominem argument, and you became nicer as you progressed from opposing the person to opposing the person’s argument itself. Ok, but going against someone’s arguments is another way of going against this person and, also, to blur the lines between person and argument is another way of recognizing this person as a living breathing material real person. Although there is an angle to the old point of view, the game of arguments is more nuanced than that, and the rules of the game must be more comprehensive.

In fact, there’s a kind of exclusion right there, inside this scheme of arguments. Specifically, that it assumes there is only one possible set of values to orient the discussion, one set of motivations, and that therefore there is only one scale to measure arguments with. This in turn led to a bunch of misunderstandings, like turning “sincerity” into “truth” into “perfect language” into “the voice of bog”. Giving up the possibility that «truth» could be measured, we keep the measure of the intent of arguments and ideas, and this turns out to be more useful, although much less divine.

Starting from a different assumption, we instead say all arguments are equally fictional, they all stem from an alien subjective reality from which we are forever excluded. All arguments are the enemy. All arguments are forms of manipulation. And as the arguments rise in complexity they also expand our possibilities of action.

Another way to explain is that one argument on a higher level includes many arguments at a lower level. A judgement involves a lot of actions or the possibility of a lot of actions. It is a measure of complexity.

This measure can be roughly arranged into a typology that almost wants to be a scale:

  1. noise/silly
  2. Eris, or arguments towards arguments
  3. Ethos, or arguments towards judgement
  4. Thelos, or arguments towards actions
  5. noise/dumb

Read More »

I want to say something pretty simple but with staggering consequences. Language is only inference. Now to show those terrible consequences i will take a long detour. Read More »

I am continually amused by very specific details of Philip K. Dick’s world view and personal philosophy, i.e. as we can grasp from his writings and occasional interview. There is one where he says that the most important part of a character is the word choice:

The most important thing is picking up the speech pattern, picking up the cadence of actual spoken English. That’s the main thing I look for — the little mannerisms, the word choice. — PKD

Obviously, that is a very restricted, casual assertion, and it is presumptuous of me to guess a whole philosophical instance from this, but… He accepts that some amount of information — and very important information — can be extracted from small differences in the form of expression. That subtle differences in speaking can lead us to uncover (or suppose) structural characteristics of the person’s way-of-knowing-the-world. Read More »