On the Nature of Philosophic Craft »
Saturday
Mar282009

Meaning is use, but use is nonsense?

(sent to analytic re: how it is that meaning can be use but some use still be "nonsense")


Larry:

"Meaning is use" means "language is a behavior, not a
picture." And so, because of the way languaging works, one could
indeed say "Green ideas sleep furiously" and create meaning. (e.g., the
hobbits of the shire loved their rainy spring season because they loved
their gardens. In the dark winter cold months, they slept long and
dreamt of spring harvest, noting 'green ideas sleep furiously.')

The
question becomes, when people create meaning -- and particularly, when
they create propositions -- what is their "justific nature." That is,
is what is said irrelevant, facile, "true," misinformed, contradictory,
helpful, etc.

The point here is that when terms like
"knowledge" and "real" or "true" are deployed, they DO things,
cognitively. And so one who says "did you know the market was down X
today" presents no philosophic issue, because there is no manipulation
of the grammar of know. Likewise, one who says "the tree is there" to a
blind person likewise commits no philosophy. But where one says, "so do
you know you have a brain" or "the chair is constructed" immediately
introduces a game we might call "word play." In daily life, word play
produces either giggles, fun, conjugation, translation, etc. Because in
real life, language's only purpose is for the facilitation of the form
of life. Brains are hard-wired for the activity (Pinker). But for
traditional philosophy, there seems to be this confusion that these
expressions require a proof of some sort. That you might not know you
have a brain because someone can say "what if it were in a vat?" Or
that someone might say "I can prove that something exists outside of my
mind."

All
that these expressions do is criss-cross grammars so that what terms
like "know," "true," and "real" normally do, they no longer do.
Stripped of their function (their primary use), they create either
false problems or simple puzzles that need solved by been keen to what
expressions do in anthropology. Those who are not "language keen" end
up using a crutch. They use, e.g., truth tables or numbered syllogisms.
They try to say P and Q and iff. They think that this sort of
secretarial labor is "solving the problem." Those who are language-keen
see either no problem at all or a cereal-box conversation. Those who
are especially insightful -- like Wittgenstein -- see grammar like no
other mind has.

And
so, it is indeed possible for "meaning to be use" and for "use to be
pointless." Just as it is possible for meaning to be use, and use
silly. Really, this itself is a language game involving the senses of
"meaning" and "nonsense."

Regards and gotta go again.

Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
New Website: http://seanwilson.org
Daily Visitors: http://seanwilson.org/homepagelucy.html
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860

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