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Posted by Aurino Souza on September 6, 2002 13:05:29 UTC

Hi Harv,

I wrote my last post in a hurry yesterday, as I had to leave. Here is what I think is a better approach, again using your dialogue with Paul as an example.

Paul: "Thought happens" is absolutely true
Harv: I don't think so

Then you go on and on arguing why Paul is right or wrong, but it seems to me everyone (myself included!) is missing a very important issue in all these discussions. What is Paul referring to when he uses the words "thought", "happens", "absolutely true"? Well, we have some clues, because we also use those words, so our first attempt at understanding what Paul is saying is to assume he is referring to the same concepts we would think of if we were to use those words. And therein is the whole problem!!!

So when Harv puts together the concepts implied by Harv's use of the words "thought", "happens", "absolutely true", Harv finds that the sentence is, from Harv's perspective, invalid. So Harv proceeds to try and convince Paul that Paul's sentence is also invalid from Paul's perspective, only Paul doesn't realize it. And Paul proceeds to try and convince Harv that Paul's sentence is also valid from Harv's perspective, only Harv doesn't realize it.

I must say that sometimes it is really the case that a sentence is invalid from the speaker's perspective without the speaker realizing it. It does happen from time to time. But, and here is "the issue", most of the time these debates revolve around the meaning of words used to describe subjective concepts, and there is no easy way to settle the dispute because both sides are correct from their own perspective and wrong from their opponent's perspective. A similar debate would be:

Paul: Chopin's melodic talent is absolutely amazing
Harv: I don't think so

Now I doubt Harv would waste a lot of time debating the absoluteness of the amazingness of Chopin's melodic talent with Paul. Harv is fully aware that such things are a matter of opinion, which is just another way of saying that Harv doesn't really understand what is going on in Paul's mind when he utters that phrase. Harv's only mistake is that he doesn't realize the situation is the same for "thought happens..."

I hope that doesn't sound like I'm picking on you or Paul, I just took that as an example. If you run through this forum you'll see that that kind of thing not only happens all the time, it's in fact the essence of the forum and its very raison d'etre. There's you and Luis debating ontology vs. epistemology, wrongly assuming you both mean the same thing when you use those words. There's Alan trying to convince us about his strange ideas on consciousness without realizing no two people think of the same concept when they see the word "consciousness". There's Dick trying to convince everyone that reality is mathematical without realizing most people can't make sense of that sentence. There's myself trying to convince everyone that science is flawed without realizing most people can't possibly understand what I mean by "flawed". And so on and on and on.

So there's "the issue", Harv. I very much doubt any philosopher has tackled it, because one of the consequences of it is that philosophy is, for the most part, a huge waste of time.

All the same, I'm quite sure you won't be able to understand this post, and it will not be your fault. But I'm still interested in what you have to say.



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