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Old 25 Jul 2017, 09:56 AM   #675013 / #276
ruby sparks
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You are talking about situations in which it is a contingent fact that no translation is possible. That's cool, but it isn't a new conceptual scheme. Merely the same conceptual scheme in which there isn't efficient distribution. Davidson's problem is with claims that wander between contingent and necessary. He merely points out that a genuinely new conceptual scheme would be one for which it was a necessary fact that no translation was possible.
Hmm. That puts the word "possible" in a tricky situation. It's also possible for every non impared human to perform a difficult surgery or to see the Eiffel tower. There is a purpose here that eludes me.
It's a bit like Wittgenstein's superprivacy. Start by investigating something which is impossible and then cleverly rule it out.
Actually Ruby, that's pretty well spot on.

Except of course the something to be investigated you mention comes from other people. That's why both Davidson and Wittgenstein spend some time identifying the targets who are guilty of assuming the impossible possible. Only then do they point out the error they are making.

That's why I called it ground clearing. Ffs, Davidson runs through an extended list of people, like Kuhn, Quine and Whorf who have been hugely influential but who rely on walking an impossible tightrope. Wittgenstein even starts with Augustin's classical empiricist model of language acquisition...

Clearing away other people's fuckups is a common task in philosophy.
I don't see it as necessarily a fuckup to say that one conceptual scheme is untranslatable to another. I think that still stands up. I think Davidson merely highlighted that perfect translation (or at least the knowing for sure that it's a perfect translation) is either impossible, or unintelligible. That's why I think that the alchemistic hunt for PerfectionTM (be it about conceptual schemes, private languages or peanut butter sandwiches) is a bit like strapping an already dead duck to the business end of your gun muzzle before going duck-hunting and if we have ruled out anything at all, it is something that could not have been the case in the first place. And I am a wee bit sceptical that for example Kuhn could or would ever have said or meant 'perfectly and wholly untranslatable', or that if he did say that, that he meant it to apply in all situations where there are conceptual differences, or different paradigms.

For example, surely we could never know that two people saying the same thing in two different languages meant exactly the same thing, or even, come to that, if they meant the same thing if they were saying them in the same language (at the same time, in the same culture and context). And even down at the level of one short word, it has surely long been accepted that when you say 'red' and I say 'red' at the same time, in the presence of the same postbox, we might not (arguably cannot) be expressing exactly the same thing.

So if it's only perfection that's been ruled out, what fool ever thought it was ruled in?

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Old 25 Jul 2017, 12:00 PM   #675015 / #277
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The other general thing that strikes me is that, as so often (and this is a general comment, not necessarily a damning criticism) the philosopher(s) have in mind, almost as a given, a putative 'rational agent' (usually human) starring in their models. So we might say that even to begin to discuss such issues as language and conceptual schemes, we almost of necessity need to make certain assumptions, which form a sort of idealised, perhaps even imaginary level playing field.

So, if, for example, we were to admit that we cannot know what it is like to be a bat (or for example a baby human), that's irrelevant, because they're not deemed to be on the playing field.

And yet, at the same time, there's an apparently unbridgeable gulf of untranslatability.
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Old 25 Jul 2017, 12:45 PM   #675018 / #278
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The other general thing that strikes me is that, as so often (and this is a general comment, not necessarily a damning criticism) the philosopher(s) have in mind, almost as a given, a putative 'rational agent' (usually human) starring in their models. So we might say that even to begin to discuss such issues as language and conceptual schemes, we almost of necessity need to make certain assumptions, which form a sort of idealised, perhaps even imaginary level playing field.

So, if, for example, we were to admit that we cannot know what it is like to be a bat (or for example a baby human), that's irrelevant, because they're not deemed to be on the playing field.

And yet, at the same time, there's an apparently unbridgeable gulf of untranslatability.
That indeed would be a paradigm problem. But Kuhn did not say that things are untranslatable at all. He said that a paradigm which is built on specific assumptions has concepts which have no meaningful translation to a paradigm based on different assumptions. Not that we can't denote terms. Nor that changing those assumptions is impossible, just unlikely. Also, meaning is socially constructed.
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Old 25 Jul 2017, 06:58 PM   #675033 / #279
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The other general thing that strikes me is that, as so often (and this is a general comment, not necessarily a damning criticism) the philosopher(s) have in mind, almost as a given, a putative 'rational agent' (usually human) starring in their models. So we might say that even to begin to discuss such issues as language and conceptual schemes, we almost of necessity need to make certain assumptions, which form a sort of idealised, perhaps even imaginary level playing field.

So, if, for example, we were to admit that we cannot know what it is like to be a bat (or for example a baby human), that's irrelevant, because they're not deemed to be on the playing field.

And yet, at the same time, there's an apparently unbridgeable gulf of untranslatability.
Perhaps returning to the bat paper and considering the point being made might be helpful about now...
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Old 25 Jul 2017, 07:00 PM   #675034 / #280
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The other general thing that strikes me is that, as so often (and this is a general comment, not necessarily a damning criticism) the philosopher(s) have in mind, almost as a given, a putative 'rational agent' (usually human) starring in their models. So we might say that even to begin to discuss such issues as language and conceptual schemes, we almost of necessity need to make certain assumptions, which form a sort of idealised, perhaps even imaginary level playing field.

So, if, for example, we were to admit that we cannot know what it is like to be a bat (or for example a baby human), that's irrelevant, because they're not deemed to be on the playing field.

And yet, at the same time, there's an apparently unbridgeable gulf of untranslatability.
That indeed would be a paradigm problem. But Kuhn did not say that things are untranslatable at all. He said that a paradigm which is built on specific assumptions has concepts which have no meaningful translation to a paradigm based on different assumptions. Not that we can't denote terms. Nor that changing those assumptions is impossible, just unlikely. Also, meaning is socially constructed.
That's Davidson's point. Go back and look at what he says again. Kinda sorta untranslatable.
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Old 25 Jul 2017, 07:39 PM   #675037 / #281
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Perhaps returning to the bat paper and considering the point being made might be helpful about now...
Indeed. Perhaps. One wonders why. Farrrington does not return. It gets dark outside........
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Old 25 Jul 2017, 07:55 PM   #675038 / #282
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The other general thing that strikes me is that, as so often (and this is a general comment, not necessarily a damning criticism) the philosopher(s) have in mind, almost as a given, a putative 'rational agent' (usually human) starring in their models. So we might say that even to begin to discuss such issues as language and conceptual schemes, we almost of necessity need to make certain assumptions, which form a sort of idealised, perhaps even imaginary level playing field.

So, if, for example, we were to admit that we cannot know what it is like to be a bat (or for example a baby human), that's irrelevant, because they're not deemed to be on the playing field.

And yet, at the same time, there's an apparently unbridgeable gulf of untranslatability.
That indeed would be a paradigm problem. But Kuhn did not say that things are untranslatable at all. He said that a paradigm which is built on specific assumptions has concepts which have no meaningful translation to a paradigm based on different assumptions. Not that we can't denote terms. Nor that changing those assumptions is impossible, just unlikely. Also, meaning is socially constructed.
That's Davidson's point. Go back and look at what he says again. Kinda sorta untranslatable.
So, is it reducable to an argument for monism? Here is what you said earlier:
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1) All this talk of different paradigms, conceptual schemes, lenses, call them what you will, is easily identified bollocks. We only have one, and every variation is perfectly and transitively translatable into every other.

2) If we ever encountered a truly different conceptual scheme then no bridge laws would obtain and there would be literally nothing we could say about it from our own conceptual scheme (although we couldn't ever even be sure that the obverse was true). We wouldn't be able to recognise it as a conceptual scheme and we wouldn't have any way of even starting to make sense of it. We certainly wouldn't be able to say anything about what could be thought in it or what capabilities it had. My point above is merely a corollary of it, not a point Davidson was explicitly making: things that appear logically impossible or that might take until the heat death of the universe to think in our conceptual scheme might actually be trivially easy in another. Obviously, such an idea is logically impossible, but that's to be expected...

Wittgenstein made exactly the same point in a different way. I explained it once before. I think you've read it.

To precis: either things are really different in which case there can be no bridge between them or they are not, in which case a lot of people have been fooling themselves... He's doing a bit of ground clearance, pointing out that we have been trying to have our cake and eat it.

Of more interest to me is the fact that every psychology in existence falls into category one. My point, oft repeated, is that there is (what would be) a level of description within bare brains that falls into category 2. As a result, we can't make any sense of that level of description at all from our conceptual scheme. (Which, as I have argued for ever, is public and entirely and systematically discrete from the inner processes it purports to describe. (yeah, that's language games and intentions and any TOM that arises from the two).
Category one is not really about conceptual schemes but about how humans model our environment. It isn't really a meaningful statement about the nature of conceptual schemes so much as a statement about the similarity of the species. Is that about right?

I should point out that the Poincaré writings I linked to earlier in the thread do indeed address conceptual schemes and what translation between them means and made an elegant case. He was interested in geometry so transforms and translations were sort of his grounding.

But also, you mentioned Abbott and his Flatlanders would have a very difficult time translating. Would that be an example of category 2?

What
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Old 25 Jul 2017, 07:56 PM   #675039 / #283
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Again, I am at a loss as to Davidson's purpose.
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Old 25 Jul 2017, 08:35 PM   #675040 / #284
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The other general thing that strikes me is that, as so often (and this is a general comment, not necessarily a damning criticism) the philosopher(s) have in mind, almost as a given, a putative 'rational agent' (usually human) starring in their models. So we might say that even to begin to discuss such issues as language and conceptual schemes, we almost of necessity need to make certain assumptions, which form a sort of idealised, perhaps even imaginary level playing field.

So, if, for example, we were to admit that we cannot know what it is like to be a bat (or for example a baby human), that's irrelevant, because they're not deemed to be on the playing field.

And yet, at the same time, there's an apparently unbridgeable gulf of untranslatability.
That indeed would be a paradigm problem. But Kuhn did not say that things are untranslatable at all. He said that a paradigm which is built on specific assumptions has concepts which have no meaningful translation to a paradigm based on different assumptions. Not that we can't denote terms. Nor that changing those assumptions is impossible, just unlikely. Also, meaning is socially constructed.
That's Davidson's point. Go back and look at what he says again. Kinda sorta untranslatable.
So, is it reducable to an argument for monism? Here is what you said earlier:
Quote:
1) All this talk of different paradigms, conceptual schemes, lenses, call them what you will, is easily identified bollocks. We only have one, and every variation is perfectly and transitively translatable into every other.

2) If we ever encountered a truly different conceptual scheme then no bridge laws would obtain and there would be literally nothing we could say about it from our own conceptual scheme (although we couldn't ever even be sure that the obverse was true). We wouldn't be able to recognise it as a conceptual scheme and we wouldn't have any way of even starting to make sense of it. We certainly wouldn't be able to say anything about what could be thought in it or what capabilities it had. My point above is merely a corollary of it, not a point Davidson was explicitly making: things that appear logically impossible or that might take until the heat death of the universe to think in our conceptual scheme might actually be trivially easy in another. Obviously, such an idea is logically impossible, but that's to be expected...

Wittgenstein made exactly the same point in a different way. I explained it once before. I think you've read it.

To precis: either things are really different in which case there can be no bridge between them or they are not, in which case a lot of people have been fooling themselves... He's doing a bit of ground clearance, pointing out that we have been trying to have our cake and eat it.

Of more interest to me is the fact that every psychology in existence falls into category one. My point, oft repeated, is that there is (what would be) a level of description within bare brains that falls into category 2. As a result, we can't make any sense of that level of description at all from our conceptual scheme. (Which, as I have argued for ever, is public and entirely and systematically discrete from the inner processes it purports to describe. (yeah, that's language games and intentions and any TOM that arises from the two).
Category one is not really about conceptual schemes but about how humans model our environment. It isn't really a meaningful statement about the nature of conceptual schemes so much as a statement about the similarity of the species. Is that about right? s was a comment on

I should point out that the Poincaré writings I linked to earlier in the thread do indeed address conceptual schemes and what translation between them means and made an elegant case. He was interested in geometry so transforms and translations were sort of his grounding.

But also, you mentioned Abbott and his Flatlanders would have a very difficult time translating. Would that be an example of category 2?

What
Abbot and his flatlanders was a metaphorical comment on logical proofs of cryptosecurity, which is was another point. The rest, not really. The bottom line is that this isn't really working. I'm sat here explaining my take on stuff, I'm not arguing,I'm not learning and this is about as fun as reading Joyce. What's in it for me?

This work sits in a tradition that runs through radical translation and all Quine's stuff in two dogmas of empiricism. I doubt Poincare was saying much about this sort of relativism as it didn't really exist until after his death.
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Old 25 Jul 2017, 08:57 PM   #675041 / #285
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Lol. The only thing that is in it for you is the discussion. If it's not fun, we can be done. For me, the question is just different than the question seems to be for you. The curiosity factor for me is always what basic premises/assumptions are people starting with or maybe what problems they are trying to solve and how do the lines of inquiry we pursue relate to those assumptions?

As much as it can seem contradictory, I pretty much assume philosophy is above all practical. When I figure out the problem someone else is trying to work through, it expands my own understanding of what problems are out there.

When you introduced Davidson, I couldn't identify the problem he was trying to solve at a very basic level. When you said you got something out of it, I wondered if you had a similar target.

Language fascinates me and so does motive and intention. But we can definitely be done. Sorry I got boring.
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Old 26 Jul 2017, 06:12 PM   #675089 / #286
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In some ways, philosophy is like art, and/or literature. It is possible for different people to take different things from it, to interpret it differently. In some cases more so than in others. It is part of what makes it interesting and appealing.

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Old 27 Jul 2017, 12:35 PM   #675111 / #287
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This may garner its own thread, but I thought those itt might be interested: Researchers shut down AI that invented its own language. Evidently, when left to its own devices, AI's (plural?) invent their own more efficient language. I post it here because of the numerous posts on language and consciousness, but, again, maybe this should be its own thread. Sub is far more versed in such things, so I'll leave that to you if interested.
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Old 27 Jul 2017, 07:01 PM   #675121 / #288
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That, if true, is rather awesome.
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