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Still playing around with this.

Does anyone have any thoughts about the following:

1.  A string of words is a statement if and only if it has meaning.

2.  A string of words has meaning if and only if it states something about a referent in reality.

3.  Only those strings of words which are statements, are either true or false, the truth or falsity of which only arises as a consequence of the relationship between the something it says and its referent.

 

Corollaries:

A.  A string of words which is neither true nor false, is meaningless, and cannot be deemed a sentence.

B.  A statement's truth can also be a referent in reality if and only if the string of words making up the statement can first be evaluated as true or false given the something it states about its referent in reality.

 

Result:

P- "Sentence A is true"

is either true or false. (if A is not a sentence P is a lie... false)

 

Q-"This sentence is true."

is a meaningless string of words.  It states nothing about any referent in reality, and hence there is no relationship between what it says and reality which in the first instance could cause it to be true or false, from which one could then evaluate whether the string of words is true or false.

 

 

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

2.  A string of words has meaning if and only if it states something about a referent in reality.

You might want to modify this after considering fiction.

Edited by merjet

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1 hour ago, merjet said:

You might want to modify this after considering fiction.

Ah yes...

"The vampire ate the demon's soul."

Is FALSE... (and on some level quite insane).. but IN the context of imagination... not necessarily meaningless.

 

If "statements" can be about non-reality or unreality... how do we keep them grounded IN reality?

In what sense are ungrounded statements ... meaningful?

 

IF we can do this and have "meaningful" literary FICTION.. what is to stop one from engaging in "meaningful" ethical, political, mathematical, philosophical, or scientific.... fiction?

 

In such contexts, what is the concept "meaningful"?  It should not be conflated with "useful", "rewarding", or "valuable"...

 

Are we really reading into each and every statement of fiction, IF SUCH WERE REAL... "the vampire ate the demon's soul".

 

Yes I will need to rethink 2, possibly the combination of all 3.

 

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3 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Still playing around with this.

Does anyone have any thoughts about the following:

1.  A string of words is a statement if and only if it has meaning.

2.  A string of words has meaning if and only if it states something about a referent in reality.

3.  Only those strings of words which are statements, are either true or false, the truth or falsity of which only arises as a consequence of the relationship between the something it says and its referent.

Neither stings of words nor statements refer to reality on their own.  Some intelligent agent (persons, some animals, possibly Artificial Intelligence someday) must interpret the words or statement to referents, and that linkage imbues the statement with meaning.

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12 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

A string of words is a statement if and only if it has meaning.

Do you consider a pictograph a word or statement?

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This page might help on terminology. My suggesting it doesn't mean I recommend "proposition." The word "declarative" might help. 

I commend StrictlyLogical for attempting a very challenging task.

Edited by merjet

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Yes, SL, thanks, and thanks to all. SL, did you put this under the sector Physics and Mathematics because of some parallels or intersections with mathematical conjectures proven to be not provable and problems proven to be not computable?

I incline to think Q is stating something about a particular sentence, and is therefore meaningful, but is false because its form, by convention, insinuates that it is stating some fact beyond itself, which it is not doing. It is claiming implicitly to be able to deliver something that it is not able to deliver.  By contrast, the statement Existence exists, unparticular as it might be, makes a statement about some things not itself.

By that analysis, the second conjunct of K is also false, therefore K is false.

Edited by Boydstun

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28 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

Yes, SL, thanks, and thanks to all. SL, did you put this under the sector Physics and Mathematics because of some parallels or intersections with mathematical conjectures proven to be not provable and problems proven to be not computable?

I incline to think Q is stating something about a particular sentence, and is therefore meaningful, but is false because its form, by convention, insinuates that it is stating some fact beyond itself, which it is not doing. It is claiming implicitly to be able to deliver something that it is not able to deliver.  By contrast, the statement Existence exists, unparticular as it might be, makes a statement about some things not itself.

By that analysis, the second conjunct of K is also false, therefore K is false.

Thank you Boydstun.  Another interesting twist.

You seem to indicate that a string of words can be meaningful and a sentence if it tries to state something about an identifiable referent... even if that something is inapplicable, or nonexistent.  The result is a sentence which is false.

"This sentence" is surely a referent.  The purported something about the sentence, is its truth or falsity.  Let us consider what "truth" or falsity" is.  Objectively it identifies a state of the relationship between the "something said" and the referent.  As such, the term "true" or "false" must have its own referent, the relationship.  Here the content (something) attempted is "truth" but "truth" as such presupposes antecedent relationship which it cannot itself supply.

So in a sense, only the content is meaningless, or better, missing. The string of words says nothing about "This sentence" although it promises to.  So what about "is true"... do we treat it as inapplicable, nonsensical, or missing entirely?

"This sentence is furry."

Here "is furry" is inapplicable to words. But is the sentence meaningful?  Certainly the referent is clear.  But the content is categorically inapplicable, words can never possess furriness or non-furriness.  Is this simply an error of degree akin to "this sentence has 2 words in it" or is it an error of a different kind?

In some sense this is cleaner than "This sentence is true" because it does not mislead one (quite as much) to presume something... namely that the sentence can be evaluated as true or false... since most sentences can be evaluated as true or false, it sucks us in... whereas since we know sentences cannot be valuated on furriness "This sentence is furry" can easily be dismissed as nonsensical.

In what sense can something be nonsensical but meaningful? 

 

Alternatively should we adjudge based on higher principles that all sentences which are not true are simply FALSE, and any attempt to distinguish between meaningful, non-meaningful, sensible or nonsensical is somehow artificial?

This reminds me in a very indirect way the impotence of the zero...

What I like about dropping the idea of meaningful versus meaningless falsehoods, is that it wipes away all the confusions about the so called indeterminate cases.  It also seems to take care of fiction.

Everything that does not qualify as TRUE is simply FALSE.

Now if we ground truth in objectivity, then the referent, the something, and the relationship all each have to be identified with words in a meaningful and rational manner. The words must identify valid concepts and their valid relationships in a logically cogent manner.

"This sentence is true"  cannot be objectively true, it is nonsensical, meaningfulness is beside the point?

 

Do I have anything to say anymore?  Is my OP in any sense useful?

I'm not sure...

 

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I have a meta-question about why you’re saying these things in this particular way. I suggest rearranging the claims in a more hierarchical fashion. For example I conclude that #1 is wrong, but perhaps not literally false. What is most wrong about #1 is that is draws on fragments of concepts but skips lower level concepts that are necessary for making identifications. As for #1, to if-and-only-if with “meaning”. “sentence” concept to “word” for definition, necessary bypassed which the sticking a have is giving the in scheme relate you order. Oops, I meant, sticking with the if-and-only-if scheme for giving a definition, you have bypassed the concept “sentence” which is necessary in order to relate “word” to “meaning”. So first the word-string must be a sentence: it must follow the rules of sentence-syntax. “String of words” refers to a something bigger than “sentence”. However, between the two, there is also “phrase” e.g. “the members of Congress”, which is not a sentence and does not quality as a statement (=assertion), but it has meaning. Words, as well, have meaning.

The correct approach to the topic, IMO, is to start with the fact that words have meaning, and word combinations may have a meaning which is composed via a proposition-building function – the rules of the language (I’ll totally skip the details, but they have to do with how word-combinations in an order have a specific meaning in a language, so that “the dog chased the cat” means something different from “the cat chased the dog”). Being a statement (I assume you consider this to be a synonym for assertion) is a property of certain sentences – other sentences are “questions” or “commands”. Only assertions are true or false. “Congress” or “ruins” is neither true nor false, and “the members of Congress” is neither true not false. However, both have meaning. Questions and commands are kind of sentences – they are not just “strings of words”, and they have meaning, but they are neither true nor false. So I conclude that #2 is false: “meaning” applies to more things than just statements. This is kind of fatal to the enterprise of relating units of language to reality. Your corollary A also has to face the problem that questions and commands have meaning and are sentences, but not statements / assertions.

I don’t understand what #3 is intended to say (what is its function in your system?). The assertion “The House voted to condemn Trump” is true, that is, it describes a fact. The assertion “The House voted against condemning Trump” is false, which means that it describes the opposite of a fact, or, its denial describes a fact. The assertion “Trump was assassinated in 2018” is also false (does not correctly describe reality), but it clearly has meaning and it does not mean the same thing as “The House voted against condemning Trump”. I especially do not understand what you mean by the relationship between the something that a statement says and the statement’s referent. I assume this is intended to get at the notion of “correspondence” or the fact that a certain proposition describes a fact – I just need some unraveling of this way of talking about truth.

Getting back to those rules of language and the proposition-building interpretative function for sentences, sentences like “Sentence A is true” is actually the same problem as “I just saw a rat” or “You found my watch”. They have “loose end” terms: “I”, “you”, “my”, and “Sentence A”. If you take try to interpret language completely out of context, the watch sentence describes (or misdescribes) at least 520 facts, i.e. it is always huge out-of-context contradiction. Clearly, this sentence is true (or false) once we settle on the intended referent of “you” and “my”. There are social rules about how we objectively determine intended reference especially in sentences contructed by other people, though in the case of “I”, it plainly means “the guy talking”. The problem with “Sentence A” is that out of context there is no hope of assigning any referent to that clause (therefore no hope of determining if the sentence is true), but in context, it may be true or false, or neither. Sentences like “Sentence A is true”, “Sentence A is in Spanish”, and “The dog is barking” presuppose the existence of “Sentence A” or “The dog”. I think that sentences with false presuppositions do not describe a fact, so they are false and not true.

 

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On 7/17/2019 at 11:17 AM, merjet said:

You might want to modify this after considering fiction.

There seem to be perspectives on types of reality.

There are elements of consciousnesses like fiction or concepts that have been imagined or observed by someone.
Aren't they real too?
As in, Harry Potter is a "real" fictitious character. Not metaphysically real of course.
Also, aren't "rights" real? (both objectively and normatively)
Isn't fear or anger real?

If they are NOT real, then we must be explicit and say metaphysically real rather than the ambiguous term "real" or "reality".
I don't know the word for it, what is "the realm of consciousness" as in: mental entities, thoughts, emotions, concepts, imagination?

Having said all there, there is an unambiguous category of unreal:
The specific category of (meaningless/unreal) defined as: that which has no referent and is unimaginable.
Example:
That which is green and not green, soft and not soft, that which exists in every way and does not exist in every way.
That which is unreal and non existent and unimaginable (nothing fits the description at all).

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5 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Having said all there, there is an unambiguous category of unreal:
The specific category of (meaningless/unreal) defined as: that which has no referent and is unimaginable.
Example:
That which is green and not green, soft and not soft, that which exists in every way and does not exist in every way.
That which is unreal and non existent and unimaginable (nothing fits the description at all).

Didn't you just imagine the so-called "unimaginable"? If it's truly unimaginable, then you wouldn't be able to think of it and describe it. You just described contradictions.

"Category of the Unreal" sounds like an avant-garde metal band that I would want to murder repeatedly.

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25 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Man IS the rational animal, but His capacity for INSANITY is unbounded.

To wit: "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously" - Noam Chomsky (link)

"Colorless green" is contradictory. So try another. Short green ideas sleep furiously. 😊

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2 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Didn't you just imagine the so-called "unimaginable"? If it's truly unimaginable, then you wouldn't be able to think of it and describe it. You just described contradictions.

"Category of the Unreal" sounds like an avant-garde metal band that I would want to murder repeatedly.

If you want to go down that road one could indicate "truly unimaginable" vs. unimaginable, as if it were another category. But I get your point. I suppose it is similar to "known unknown" vs. "unknown unknown".

I make the distinction: variable x, is a place holder. The number 5 is a number. But one could say they are both numbers.

I suppose you would say I imagine what is in x. Then I have to indicate the difference in some other way, perhaps the word imagine is not the right. Just because my mind fills in the blanks when reading poetry does not mean I imagined a referent.

I personally can't imagine what something that is and isn't is. Although I as a concept, it defines what does not exist.

Similar to the concept "nothing". As in, it isn't anything.

I can use the word, work with the concept, but I can't imagine a referent because there is none.

As in, there is no image.The fact that I put it into words does not mean that I can imagine it. Although perhaps, you can. I ask this seriously. (or you consider that which can be conceptualized automatically has been imagined).

In the case of a table, I can and do imagine a table in addition to working with the concept table.

In the case of infinity, I can't imagine infinity, but I work with the concept in Calculus etc.

So you seem to say "if I understand a concept", I have imagined it. But I see a difference.

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SL, the case of contradiction statements, I'd say, needs to be worked into an account in this vicinity. We think of the statement "A is not-A" as referring to nothing (there are no A's that are also not-A's), but always false, and if false, I'd say it must be meaningful. That is, a statement assessable for truth or falsehood could be taken as a sufficient condition for the statement being a meaningful one. Contradiction statements would seem false and meaningful.

In fact they are useful, and again that would suggest they have some kind of meaning. By useful, I'm thinking of their use in indirect proof in which we show a premise to be false given that when joined with premises we take for true we deduce a contradiction.

Another aspect of contradiction possibly pertinent is that the conjunction between A and Not-A need not be supplied explicitly by the mind holding A true and holding Not-A true. The conjunction can be supplied merely by the fact that a mind holds both those things (and does not realize it, does not bring them together in mind). 

Edited by Boydstun

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54 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

If you want to go down that road one could indicate "truly unimaginable" vs. unimaginable, as if it were another category.

This is definitely a road I enjoy going down. Typically unimaginable refers to something real that a particular person can't imagine himself because he lacks the necessary context or experience. For example, a man who survived the first wave at Omaha Beach might say to his grandson, "It was unimaginable chaos." Even if he tried to explain what happened, he knows that the boy can't imagine it.

In your example, you are trying to apply the term to something that is not real. If it's not real, then who could possibly imagine it? Only the person who thinks of the unreal can imagine it. Everyone else relies on your description, and then they are imagining their own interpretation of the unreal.

54 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

I personally can't imagine what something that is and isn't is.

This gets into the meaning of imagine. What is imagining? Is it forming a picture impression in your mind, or can it be mere thoughts, a concept? I'm struck by the difference between memory and imagination. Memory is recalling something that existed. Imagination is inventing something that hasn't existed. We try to fit our thoughts into these categories, to keep reality separate from fantasy. But sometimes we make mistakes and put them in the wrong category.

You can't imagine infinity, but you work with the concept. Should infinity be something other than a concept?

Edited by MisterSwig

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25 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

This gets into the meaning of imagine. What is imagining? Is it forming a picture impression in your mind, or can it be mere thoughts, a concept? I'm struck by the difference between memory and imagination. Memory is recalling something that existed. Imagination is inventing something that hasn't existed. We try to fit our thoughts into these categories, to keep reality separate from fantasy. But sometimes we make mistakes and put them in the wrong category.

You might find an article, Imagination and Cognition, that I wrote for Boydstun's journal Objectivity of interest. The topic of memory and its connection to imagination appears several times, including by Aquinas and Hobbes.

Oh my, 28 years ago. I won't take all the credit. Stephen was a very helpful editor.

Edited by merjet

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4 hours ago, Boydstun said:

We think of the statement "A is not-A" as referring to nothing (there are no A's that are also not-A's), but always false, and if false, I'd say it must be meaningful. That is, a statement assessable for truth or falsehood could be taken as a sufficient condition for the statement being a meaningful one. Contradiction statements would seem false and meaningful.

There seem to be several contexts (word or concept), therefore different definitions of meaningless:

1. A word or phrase that is meaningless
    the word/phrase or symbol refers to no concept or concrete (lack of language understanding or gibberish)
2. A concept that is meaningless        
    A concept that has no referent (as in a contradiction or falsehood or lack of exposure or knowledge)

Regarding meaning, this also implies that:

A word or phrase that has meaning, refers to a concept or concrete.

A concept that has meaning, refers to two or more concretes. (a concept referring to only one concrete is not a concept)
 

A meaningful word or phrase can be a meaningless concept.

A meaningless concept can be a meaningful word or phrase.

A meaningless word or phrase cannot ever be a meaningful concept.

Edited by Easy Truth

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8 hours ago, merjet said:

To wit: "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously" - Noam Chomsky (link)

"Colorless green" is contradictory. So try another. Short green ideas sleep furiously. 😊

Couldn't "green" be taken to mean "new" or "newly-formed" here? If so, then this sentence "could" potentially have actual meaning while initially sounding meaningless. 

"Colorless" is an accurate description of "ideas".

"Green" could mean something like above.

"Ideas" is straight-forward in it's meaning.

"Sleep" could be metaphorical. As in, something like, not fully thought out.

"Furiously" could be similar to "sleep" as it could be metaphorical. 

So it could be roughly translated:

New and creative ideas emerge suddenly after haphazard subconscious simmering. 

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Reply to EC.

That’s a colorful interpretation. I don’t feel qualified to judge if it’s accurate or not. I’m too literal. That probably explains my fondness for poetry being pretty low, except for limericks. 🙂

 

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