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Discussion Details

Title: Logical Form: “Really Meaningful?”
Submitter: Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay
Description: Is it “true” that when anyone is rewriting a “sentence” in Logical Form
(LF) by deploying metalinguistic constants and variables, the ultimate
output would reveal the ‘true’ meaning of a given sentence? In LF, a major
concentration is devoted to describe and understand the ‘real world’. This
supposed logical positivist “real” is incorporated in the logical analysis
of sentences in the algorithmic chain of LF of S-Structure by deploying
sentential calculus. LF mainly follows Fregean compositionality or its
derivatives like Katz-Fodorian Model. The following questions may be asked:

1. What is “real” in this real world? (To answer such question, one may
take a clue from Russell’s An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth: “We all start
from ‘naïve realism,’ i.e., the doctrine the things are what they seem. We
think that grass is green, that stones are hard and snow is cold. But
physics assures us that the greenness of grass, the hardness of stones, and
coldness of snow are not the greenness, hardness and coldness that we know
in our own experience, but something very different. The observer, when he
(sic) seems to himself (sic) to be observing a stone, is really, if physics
is to be believed, observing the effects of the stone upon himself (sic).
Thus science seems to be at war with itself: when it most means to be
objective, it finds itself plunged into subjectivity against its will.
Naïve realism leads to physics, and physics, if true, shows that naïve
realism is false. Therefore naïve realism, if true, is false; therefore it
is false.” (1940:15)

2. What happens in LF if anyone puts Russell’s paradox (1913) in LF? How
do we incorporate Gödel’s theorem to tackle a formal system like LF?
According to Goedel’s theorem (1931), no formal system is complete enough
to handle all the problems within a formal paradigm. If anyone puts any
Goedel’s proposition or Russell’s paradox (“One Calcuttan says that all
Calcuttans are liars”) in LF of S-Structure, the total formal as well as
mechanical algorithmic system to gauge the meaning may collapse.

3. Katz-Fodorian (1963) system of binary componential analysis ignores the
prototypical cognition of meaning by the human being. As some cognitive
scientist observed that the meaning as endorsed by human beings, could not
be analyzed by the stipulated components as humans understand meaning
through prototypical cognition. What should we follow in semantic analysis:
technical intelligentsia’s critical discursive habit of paraphrasing or
commonsense deployment of prototypes?

4. Let us switch over to another schooling and try to understand semantic
problems raised by continental philosophers (under the umbrella of
so-called Post-Formalism/ Structuralism). These Post-Formalists are talking
about plural meanings of non-disposable texts as well as something called
‘surplus meanings’, which is not at all analyzable or quantifiable .
According to them, the meaning-site is too slippery area and any futile
endeavor to formalize such site will be ended in vain. Do you think that
they are neglecting ‘science’ and its formalism by promoting
“un-scientific” non-formalism?
Date Posted: 26-Jul-2006
Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories
Philosophy of Language
Cognitive Science
LL Issue: 17.2149
Posted: 26-Jul-2006

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