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Archive for the ‘Philosophy of Language’ Category

I found segments on youtube of Derek Jarman’s 1989 film “Wittgenstein.” The rest can be found on youtube. Enjoy!

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The following post constitutes an edited transposition of a series of comments found in another thread on this site. In the event that I have uncharitably edited this material from its origin, I depend upon my peers to alert me to the fact. You can find the original post here. While the title of this post refers to two individuals (for purely archival purposes…and I think it’s a clever title), it is not my desire to exclude others from the discourse; in fact, I hope that those who are interested in this topic will get involved in this conversation.
Context: Some commentators and analysts argue that undergraduates emerge from the contemporary American system with weak critical engagement skills. Specifically, some students express difficulty in determining the cohesive meaning of the sum of their intellectual exploits. In other words, some students become frustrated when they are unable to find (satisfactory) connections between different and seemingly disparate courses, ideas, and arguments.  Does this difficulty result from weak critical methodology? Should educators be more explicit or direct in their efforts to get students to hone their critical skills? If so, how could educators go about doing this?

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JJ at Feminist Philosophers posted a recent case of a child who appears to have had little social contact for the first five or six years of her life. As JJ notes, feral children, while thankfully rare, are interesting to theorists for a variety of reasons. Questions about the nature of language, human capacity for language and various capabilities associated with human development are among the issues associated with feral children. JJ has also linked to a paper by Lila Gleitman about language development in which the case of feral children is considered.

*This title is adapted from a passage in the St. Petersburg Times article; second link above.

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And you thought translating German was hard!

According to this article, the title of this post is a single Oneida word that means, “the two of them went around to the other side of the altar again.”

The word is formed, according to linguist Cliff Abbot, by “add[ing] nine prefixes to the simple root verb “-tase-“, which means “to go around” — all without forgetting that the final sounds might need to be whispered.”

And so I ask you this: “Chahta imanumpa ish anumpola hinla ho?”

For most people in the world, the answer to that question is “No.” For me, the answer is, “A teensy, weensy bit. Hardly enough, really, to count for much.” For some people I know, it is, “Yep. Fluently.”

Read the article I’ve linked to above in order to see why it’s unfortunate that more people I know don’t answer the last way. Refer to my previous posts on Indian Boarding Schools to see some of the causes of native language endangerment. And, finally, click here to translate the question I’ve asked.

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Looks like you can watch the whole film, “Wittgenstein,” here.

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Predication is one of the most basic features of our language. To use a predicate in discussion of the actual world is to make a claim about the way the world (or whatever specific part of it we happen to be speaking about) is. It’s obvious that word-world connections such as those we see in predication are (or at least should be) at the root of general semantic theories.

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Given the discussion of parts I, II and III, I want to propose a way to understand intensions which may end up speaking to certain questions about modal semantics. As an introduction, let’s recall that Carnap engaged in a similar project in Meaning and Necessity. In that work, state-descriptions were to play the functional role of possible worlds, where a state-description is a “maximal” collection of atomic sentences. In other words, for every one-place predicate term φ1 and every singular term α, a state-description is such that it contains either ‘φ1(α)’ or ‘~φ1(α)’, for every two-place predicate term φ2 and arbitrary singular terms α and β, a state-description is such that it contains either ‘φ2(α, β)’ or ‘~φ2(α, β)’, and similarly for n-place predicate terms where n > 2.

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