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Sunday, October 30, 2016

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On subarguments I and II, it seems to me you are taking my doctrine of (I) the ineffability of the assertion and (II) the ineffability of the predicate against me. Yes?

I think I will go for it not 'pointing' us anywhere, and certainly not into Cloud Cuckoo Land but is merely a curious factum brutum for which there is no accounting, no philosophical explanation.

Your second comment is helpful because it confirms my guess at what your view is, and challenges me to say what is wrong with your view.

As for your first comment, I didn't think I was using doctrines of yours against you.

Have you posted some statements of (I) and (II)?

If you think predicates are ineffable, doesn't that commit you to some objects being ineffable?

>> As for your first comment, I didn't think I was using doctrines of yours against you. Have you posted some statements of (I) and (II)?

I have long urged the ineffability of both the assertoric component and the predicative component. Once quite recently, when I distinguished strawman nominalism of the Armstrong knockdown kind, which has predicates arbitrarily imposed, with enlightened nominalism, which holds that not everthing that looks like a name, is a name. We can only express what a verb expresses by using a verb, therefore we can’t quantify over what a verb expresses. Indeed the noun phrase ‘what a verb expresses’ is itself misleading, because it is a noun phrase and not a verb. We discussed this very recently.

>>Your second comment is helpful because it confirms my guess at what your view is, and challenges me to say what is wrong with your view. If you think predicates are ineffable, doesn't that commit you to some objects being ineffable?

Actually ‘ineffable’ means too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words, implying our vocabulary is insufficient. Verbs and predicates by contrast express exactly what they are intended to express. There is nothing unclear about ‘Socrates is arguing’. The proposition expresses exactly what it is meant to express.

The problem is the noun phrase ‘what it is meant to express’. This cannot have a referent, otherwise the proposition ‘Socrates is arguing’ would have a referent, and the referent would be the truth of the proposition. Similarly if the verb phrase ‘is arguing’ had a referent, the proposition ‘Socrates is arguing’ would be a list of nouns, which it isn’t.

For that reason, it does not commit the Ockhamist to ‘some objects being ineffable’. Quite the opposite.

This suggests a curious factum brutum for which there is no philosophical explanation, but perhaps a psychological one.

>>We can only express what a verb expresses by using a verb, therefore we can’t quantify over what a verb expresses.<<

You have just conceded defeat nolens volens. You have just told us that a verb expresses something but that this thing cannot be quantified over. So this thing is not some thing. Contradiction.

More clearly perhaps:

The question is whether everything can be quantified over. You admit that what a verb expresses cannot be quantified over. So you must admit that not everything can be quantified over

Reality is not exhausted by objects.

Not so fast. A that-clause and a sentence stand in two fundamentally different relations to a fact. The clause ‘that grass is green’ refers to the fact that grass is green. The sentence ‘grass is green’ states that grass is green. (Or if you want to be picky, the person using the noun phrase refers, the person using the sentence states etc).

In both cases the object of the verb phrase (refers to/states) can be quantified over. So for some x, the that-clause refers to x, the sentence states x. But the relation is different.

Are you telling me now that you accept facts?

But you are right that there is an important difference between 'That grass is green' and 'Grass is green.' Only the second expresses a complete thought, a proposition. The former is a nominal expression.

Is referring the same as naming?

Your point is that referring to a fact is different from stating a fact. Let us say that picking out is the genus of which referring and stating are species. Then your further point is that in both cases the object picked out can be quantified over.

I'll grant you that the object of the nominal phrase can be quantified over, but not the object of the sentence.

Moreover, you contradict yourself. How does what you say comport with your earlier >> we can’t quantify over what a verb expresses<< ??

>>Moreover, you contradict yourself. How does what you say comport with your earlier >> we can’t quantify over what a verb expresses<< ??

I thought about it an realised this was wrong. Clearly we can quantify over what a verb expresses. The verb 'run' expresses running. The noun 'running' refers to running.

>>I'll grant you that the object of the nominal phrase can be quantified over, but not the object of the sentence.
I don’t understand. If by ‘object’ you mean referent, then only a noun phrase has a referent. A sentence cannot refer, it can only express or state.

That is, the sentence ‘Socrates runs’ expresses the object/referent of ‘that Socrates runs’.

>> Clearly we can quantify over what a verb expresses. The verb 'run' expresses running. The noun 'running' refers to running.<<

'Run' can be either a verb or a noun depending on how it is used. 'I run slowly' versus 'I went for a run.'

Running is a noun -- a gerund to be precise -- in 'Running is better for weight-loss than walking.' But 'running' in 'Socrates is running' is part of the predicate. Same in 'Running Socrates sweats.' In both of the last two examples, 'running' is a participle

We can quantify over what the noun 'run' and the gerund 'running' refers to. Not so sure about the verb and the participle.

Right. But my point is that there must be at least two different relations between language and reality if we are to have a science of meaning at all. Proof:

1. Every science has a subject matter.
2. The propositions of that science refer to its subject matter. E.g. in the proposition ‘water is H2O’, the word ‘water’ refers to water, ‘H’ to hydrogen etc.
3. Assume there is a science of meaning.
4. Then the propositions of that science must refer to meanings.
5. But to do this, those propositions of the science must themselves have meanings.
6. The meanings that the propositions have cannot be the same as the meanings they refer to. Otherwise the propositions of the science would be the same as the propositions that they are about. It would be like the science of water consisting of bowls of water.

Example: we can refer to the meaning of the word ‘and’, by using the noun phrase ‘the meaning of the word ‘and’’. But that noun phrase cannot mean the same as the word ‘and’, since it is a noun phrase and not a conjunction. Thus:

The meaning of the word ‘and’ = the meaning that the phrase ‘the meaning of the word ‘and’’ refers to.
Hence there must be at least these two different semantic relations, namely ‘referring to’ and ‘having’.

Frege’s error was to suppose it can all be explained by a single relation of referring. Thus ‘Socrates’ refers to an Object, ‘runs’ refers to a Concept, which quickly leads to a contradiction. He should have said that the word ‘runs’ has a meaning, and that the noun phrase ‘the meaning of the verb ‘runs’’ refers to that same meaning.

>> We can quantify over what the noun 'run' and the gerund 'running' refers to. Not so sure about the verb and the participle.

That is because the verb and the participle are not noun phrases, and so cannot refer. However, they have a meaning, even though they can’t refer to the meaning. Moreover we can construct a noun phrase that refers to the meaning they have. Thus everything whatsoever can be quantified over.

That said, I am still not certain which of the following is correct:

1. There is no difficulty.
2. There is a verbal, not a real difficulty.
3. There is a real difficulty.

I'm not buying it. I say that in reality there must be something that corresponds to a predicate functioning as a predicate and that this something is not something over which we can quantify.

I assert: The coffee is hot!

Your view is that the meaning that 'is hot' HAS when the sentence is assertively uttered = the meaning that 'the meaning of "is hot" ' REFERS TO.

This item, moreover, is an object and nothing like a Fregean unsaturated concept, and it can be quantified over.

I'd say you are ignoring the datum that a proposition is not a collection of objects. There is a missing ingredient: the unity that attracts a truth-value.

As I say, I am still uncertain. There must be more to the sentence than the noun phrase, I.e more meaning, as it were. So something more. But something more is something. Yet not quantifiable.

You see I am not disagreeing.

>>I'd say you are ignoring the datum that a proposition is not a collection of objects. There is a missing ingredient: the unity that attracts a truth-value.

But there is the puzzle. 'a proposition is not a collection of objects'. Agreed. there is something else: the unity.

But if the unity is 'something else', then there is some *thing* else. And then the proposition is a collection of objects, if you include the unity.

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