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Wednesday, January 20, 2016


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Note to London Ed: Tell me whether you think the problem as set forth is genuine as opposed to pseudo. If genuine, how would you solve it?

Slightly pseudo, since I am Ockhamist about propositions. There are sentences, which are strings of words in a particular language, whose meaning we express by sentences of the form ‘p says that p’, where the first ‘p’ mentions a sentence, the second uses it. The used sentence inside the ‘that’ clause interprets the meaning.

Concerning demonstrative sentences, as I explained before, I hold that the demonstrative ‘this’ is practically meaningless, its role being to signify that the perceptual content available to speaker and hearer is itself a sign. So, regarding your first statement, I agree that the language, and the perceptual content, is ‘before the minds’ of speaker and hearer. As for your second statement, I hold that the hot poker itself is neither part of the language (since a poker is not a word), nor is it a part of the perceptual content, although it causes the perceptual content. As for your third, I agree that the hot poker itself is not in or before my mind.

>>Perhaps the solution is to say that the reference of 'this' is direct all right, but not to an infinitely-propertied chunk of physical reality

As I said, in my view the semantic function of ‘this’ is to bring sense-data into the overall semantics. I suspect you have a problem with the idea that non-linguistic things can be signs, but why? Think of the beacons they used to light in the old days, to signify ‘danger’. Or the sound of a fire alarm which signifies ‘Fire’! You drive a Jeep. Do you not have road signs in Arizona?

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