if / or / and / not

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Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 03:41 am
How do we learn the "meaning" of a word like "if?"

Or of "and" in the logical sense? Or of "not?" You can't point at an "and" or a "not" if a child asks you what these words mean. I think we take this for granted.

Are we born ready to use certain logical "operators"? How much of our philosophy is based upon these "operators"? What do we know about them? Can we even question them without using them? (I know this sort of question isn't new, but it interests me.)
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 07:12 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;165673 wrote:
How do we learn the "meaning" of a word like "if?"

Or of "and" in the logical sense? Or of "not?" You can't point at an "and" or a "not" if a child asks you what these words mean. I think we take this for granted.

Are we born ready to use certain logical "operators"? How much of our philosophy is based upon these "operators"? What do we know about them? Can we even question them without using them? (I know this sort of question isn't new, but it interests me.)


Clearly we are born with the capacity to use the logical operators and to learn them. But to learn them, and learn to use them, we clearly require to hear or acquire in some other way, the competence. Nature and nurture, as usual is the explanation. Read some books on language and cognition. The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker is recommended. Tolle Lege.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 09:02 pm
@Reconstructo,
When we program computers, we use if, and, or, not. Formal logic. Daily conversation. It's how we understand things?
 
TickTockMan
 
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 09:19 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;165935 wrote:
When we program computers, we use if, and, or, not. Formal logic. Daily conversation. It's how we understand things?


Are you saying that we understand things by what they are, or by what they are not? If you are saying the latter, what use is the former, and vice versa.
We're back to Moebius, it seems . . . .

For some reason I'm thinking of the old programmer's joke: "There are only 10 kinds of people in the world - those who understand binary, and those who do not."
 
Deckard
 
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 10:04 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;165673 wrote:
How do we learn the "meaning" of a word like "if?"


The educator can provide the learner with examples that demonstrate how "if" is used in a sentence.

Is this way of conveying meaning still considered to be ostensive?
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 10:09 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;165952 wrote:
The educator can provide the learner with examples that demonstrate how "if" is used in a sentence.

Is this way of conveying meaning still considered to be ostensive?


I don't know. It's tricky, isn't it? This pointing out of "ifness." Newborns recognize changes in quantity, it seems. I can't help but wonder if "if" is somehow a genetic inheritance.
 
TickTockMan
 
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 10:23 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;165954 wrote:
Newborns recognize changes in quantity, it seems. I can't help but wonder if "if" is somehow a genetic inheritance.


I don't think so. I think it is a learned response. A programming of the human meta-computer, to reference John C. Lilly.

If you take action 'A' the result will be 'B', and thus we learn. Some learn more quickly than others, however, hence Darwin Awards and such sites as EPIC FAIL: Your Source for Epic Fail and Fail Pictures, Fail Videos, and Fail Stories.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 10:29 pm
@TickTockMan,
TickTockMan;165959 wrote:
I don't think so. I think it is a learned response. A programming of the human meta-computer, to reference John C. Lilly.


Well, I would never deny that there is a learned element to it, but what about a propensity to learn it? It seems hard to reduce to lower terms. Most of our thoughts will break down into components. But I experience the ones mentioned in this thread as atoms. I do see your point. No doubt, we must learn the glyph and the sound associated with the meaning, and perhaps even all the ways the "ifness" and the "notness" hook up. I like the "meta computer." What sort of chip do we have in there/here?
 
north
 
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 10:34 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;165673 wrote:
How do we learn the "meaning" of a word like "if?"


by the understanding of possibility of

Quote:
Or of "and" in the logical sense?


and the inclusion



Quote:
Or of "not?"


the lack of being included



Quote:
You can't point at an "and" or a "not" if a child asks you what these words mean. I think we take this for granted.


yes you can

it depends on the context on which both " and " or a " not " are expressed

Quote:
Are we born ready to use certain logical "operators"? How much of our philosophy is based upon these "operators"? What do we know about them? Can we even question them without using them? (I know this sort of question isn't new, but it interests me.)


as much as is needed
 
Deckard
 
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 10:35 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;165954 wrote:
I don't know. It's tricky, isn't it? This pointing out of "ifness." Newborns recognize changes in quantity, it seems. I can't help but wonder if "if" is somehow a genetic inheritance.


Ostensive doesn't necessarily mean literally pointing. It can mean just providing examples and there are many ways to provide examples from holding up objects to pantomime to writing sentences on a chalk board. I tend to think immediately of a pointing finger but this limits ostension too much.

When we provide examples of how "if" is used in a sentence we are pointing at the deep grammatical structures that the sign "if" plays a part in representing.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 10:37 pm
@north,
north;165965 wrote:

as much as is needed


Are we talking only about needs? If the question doesn't interest you, I don't understand why you bother. After all, you added no information really. You dodged the question entirely. And that's fine. But don't expect me to be grateful for your lack of theories of interest in the matter.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 10:48 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;165673 wrote:
How do we learn the "meaning" of a word like "if?"

Or of "and" in the logical sense? Or of "not?" You can't point at an "and" or a "not" if a child asks you what these words mean. I think we take this for granted.

Are we born ready to use certain logical "operators"? How much of our philosophy is based upon these "operators"? What do we know about them? Can we even question them without using them? (I know this sort of question isn't new, but it interests me.)
Plato says you don't exactly learn those things, it just seems so. You knew them in a past life. So when you grasp them in this life, it's remembering.

I agree that you can't teach someone something they don't already know... if someone's blind, you can't teach them what blue is.

A basic structure to human thought is how I think of it.
 
north
 
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 10:51 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;165969 wrote:
Are we talking only about needs? If the question doesn't interest you, I don't understand why you bother. After all, you added no information really. You dodged the question entirely. And that's fine. But don't expect me to be grateful for your lack of theories of interest in the matter.


and don't expect me to accept that your statement above means anything , really

I gave my thoughts

now refute what I stated
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 10:51 pm
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;165972 wrote:
Plato says you don't exactly learn those things, it just seems so. You knew them in a past life. So when you grasp them in this life, it's remembering.

I agree that you can't teach someone something they don't already know... if someone's blind, you can't teach them what blue is.

A basic structure to human thought is how I think of it.


I'm in between. I feel like we have a structure to our thought but that this structure must be abstracted with difficulty from its immersion in experience. Smile

---------- Post added 05-19-2010 at 12:00 AM ----------

north;165973 wrote:
and don't expect me to accept that your statement above means anything , really

I gave my thoughts

now refute what I stated


"Refute" you? Refute what? Do you really think you made some kind of point? I'm sorry. I can't take you seriously.
 
north
 
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 11:01 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;165974 wrote:
I'm in between. I feel like we have a structure to our thought but that this structure must be abstracted with difficulty from its immersion in experience. Smile


are you saying that thought and experience are seperated ?
 
wayne
 
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 11:02 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;165673 wrote:
How do we learn the "meaning" of a word like "if?"

Or of "and" in the logical sense? Or of "not?" You can't point at an "and" or a "not" if a child asks you what these words mean. I think we take this for granted.

Are we born ready to use certain logical "operators"? How much of our philosophy is based upon these "operators"? What do we know about them? Can we even question them without using them? (I know this sort of question isn't new, but it interests me.)


It seems to me that it all comes down to our ability to understand the use of abstracts. Once we understand the use of an abstract, memorizing meanings is a piece of cake. If we can learn the meaning of one word, we can learn the meaning of any word. The things and actions described by words are common to all humans.

The process of inventing names is odd though, how do we pull something out of thin air like that, children learn to do this, it is not inherent.
 
TickTockMan
 
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 11:08 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;165960 wrote:
Well, I would never deny that there is a learned element to it, but what about a propensity to learn it? It seems hard to reduce to lower terms. Most of our thoughts will break down into components. But I experience the ones mentioned in this thread as atoms. I do see your point. No doubt, we must learn the glyph and the sound associated with the meaning, and perhaps even all the ways the "ifness" and the "notness" hook up. I like the "meta computer." What sort of chip do we have in there/here?


I wonder if 'if' is the ultimate expression of biological imperative. If so, reducing it to, as you say, "lower terms", is the most basic of instincts for living entities to keep on existing and as such transcends language and becomes a non-verbal cause-and-effect mechanism. There's your atom, right there. No words, just action or non-action.

From this viewpoint, words really are meaningless. They are just sounds to which we've assigned a certain agreed upon meaning for purposes of explanation within our tribe. But take away the explanatory aspect and what remains of assigned meaning? Do reptiles consider 'if'? Yet, they are driven by the unconscious and non-linguistic (as far as we know) 'if' of their daily activity that keeps them functioning.

The propensity to learn, in this instance, is simply the propensity to keep on keeping on - at least in the case of a survival situation.

But then again, maybe I've had a few too many glasses of delicious Merlot to remain intelligible.
 
north
 
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 11:10 pm
@wayne,
wayne;165978 wrote:
It seems to me that it all comes down to our ability to understand the use of abstracts. Once we understand the use of an abstract, memorizing meanings is a piece of cake. If we can learn the meaning of one word, we can learn the meaning of any word. The things and actions described by words are common to all humans.


yet I don't find , if / or / and / not , all that abstract , really

Quote:
The process of inventing names is odd though, how do we pull something out of thin air like that, children learn to do this, it is not inherent.


there is just something Natural about it

of course different languages say the same thing in a different way

English is just more succinct
 
Deckard
 
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 11:56 pm
@north,
north;165981 wrote:
yet I don't find , if / or / and / not , all that abstract , really



there is just something Natural about it

of course different languages say the same thing in a different way

English is just more succinct


In Chomsky terms the "something natural about it" is the deep structure while different ways of saying the same thing in different languages is the surface structure.
 
north
 
Reply Wed 19 May, 2010 12:10 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;165985 wrote:
In Chomsky terms the "something natural about it" is the deep structure while different ways of saying the same thing in different languages is the surface structure.


and the deep structure is based on the alignment of the brain and body to allow an energy flow
 
 

 
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