The Clarity of a Proposition

If one or more elements in a proposition is unclear it does not follow that the proposition as a whole is nonsense. *The unclear* is not *the meaningless*.

William: Sounds accurate: If someone said “Those sardines were delicious” there is much that is clear and some things that are not clear. We know that someone enjoyed eating some fish. We do not know who that person was from the statement. There is no species of fish that is a sardine but rather there are 20 or 30 species of small fish sold under the term “sardine” so it is not clear what species of fish or how many, only that there was more than one fish. We understand the word delicious to refer to the sensation of taste and eating. It is not clear HOW the sardines tasted whether salty or sweet or spicy hot, whether in oil or water or tomato sauce. We do not know whether the speaker often eats sardines and would like any style or quality or whether they generally dislike sardines but they happened to try a style which appeals to them. Hence, from the written sentence, without hearing the emphasis we do no know where it is a factual statement, or expressed as surprise, or with a touch of irony.

Someone may speak to us of a red sunset or a red flower or a red wagon and we have a clear image in our mind of what they are saying; yet no one can say with clarity what redness in and of itself is apart from some particular instance of something we behold which has a red color and there are probably hundreds of shades of red in some proprietary system such as Pantone colors.

Now regarding unclear as MEANINGLESS, someone may give me a statement and some one thing is unclear TO ME (perhaps the definition of one word) but as soon as I look up that word or perhaps someone adds a different punctuation then suddenly the statement is MORE meaningful to me.

David these are my impromptu reactions to your post. Do you have some specific example to give? Have I somewhat caught the gist of your post?

I just found this useful website

The quote from Crumley (I believe Jack S.) has a TYPO which I have attempted to correct:

In every judgment there is an attempt to match one concept with another and our success or failure is expressed in an affirmative or negative proposition. The concept held in the mind and thought about is the subject; what is THOUGHT about is the predicate.

[The original has “what is though about”]

Excerpt: To be answered true or false, a proposition must have judgmental meaning. Judgmental meaning is different from the meaning of concepts as concepts. Why some propositions have meaning for us and others do not is a subject of it’s own. For now we stick to the distinction between conceptual and judgmental meaning and emphasize that: some statements do have meaning. It is normal for people to understand these distinctions in cultivating commonsense.

Just because concepts have meaning considered as concepts does not mean they can be put together any which way and produce a judgment with meaning. It is a tenet of plus root theory that: sometimes sentences are meaningless even though they contain meaningful words and are in the form of a complete sentence. Stated the other way round, just because a sentence contains meaningful words and has acceptable grammatical form, does not mean that the sentence represents a meaningful judgment or qualifies as a proposition.

This book looks like an interesting read in conjunction with David’s post:

A brief introduction to the philosophy of mind By Jack S. Crumley

Dr. Crumley is professor of philosophy at the University of San Diego

I would not be surprised of Jack Crumley is on Facebook. We could get him to respond to David’s post!

Well, if something is meaningful to even a single person then it is meaningful even if it only exists as an idea. None of us can prove that there is no such person as Santa Claus. Most of us are certain that it is simply a myth. Many 6 year old children are convinced in the reality of Santa Claus. Beyond that, in the world of marketing, advertising and entertainment Santa Claus has very real meaning.

Let us say that I meet an alcoholic living in the streets and I make up some totally fictitious story about some person who cares for him and will meet him if he fulfills certain conditions. Though that person I describe is a fiction, the IDEA of such a person in the alcoholics mind has real existence. The alcoholic begins to feel self-empowered to give up alcohol, find lodging, find a job and do all those constructive things which he believes will make possible a meeting one day with that non-existent person that he believes cares about his circumstances and future.

No one can prove that there is no such being as God just as no one can PROVED that a God exists. But ideas about God have existed in every culture at every age. We may abstract from all those notions of God what attributes if any are in common.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: