Re: live meaning and dead languages

I forgot to make the conclusion to the email below:

The  challenge of the SW is to keep track of reality that is constantly
changing, although some parts of it are more volatile than others

The moment we fix something (take a snaposhot,) it is is always already
obsolete as the real thing will change and the snapshot does not

I think the trick is to be painfully aware of the limitations of our
representations, instead of being fooled into the illusion that when we look
at the representation we look at the real thing
(map is not territory metaphor)


On Sun, Feb 8, 2009 at 7:51 AM, <> wrote:

> [FM]
>> One thing that needs clarification here, it seems to me, is what is meant
>> exactly by "term" in the SW (maybe that's an illustration itself!),
>> particularly when comparing it with natural language.
> [PDM]
> I did some research a while back to nail down the term 'term', since it
> became obvious that people were referring different constructs with it.
> "term' ethymologically means 'boundary' (from the name of the latin god
> Terminus, who set the boundary for the city)
> such boundaries can be expressed
> linguistically (term has lexical definition),
> numerically (term has quantifier)
> as a condition (term is a clause )
> (more?)
> I think the above boundaries can be mapped to each other in some instances
> which can be defined by all three (but some instances will be defined by
> only one of the above expressions)
> so what in this thread is discussed as 'the definition keeps changing',
> after some consideration i think that it is the boundaries of things that we
> try to define that keep changing, this is probably because reality keeps
> going only as long as it is in flux (you would not want to change that,
> cause the whole thing would crash)
> Its the dynamic forces of the universe that cause that
> Nailing down boundaries for a specific purpose is OK (say a controlled
> vocabulary), provided they are periodically revised, used within their scope
> Paola Di Maio
> [FM]
>>  The meaning of terms may "move with the times", but when a term has been
>> used in a specific context, I want to know what the term meant in that
>> context (which may be a temporal context, or some other kind).  Take the
>> term "torpedo", for example.  At one time, it meant a particular kind of
>> electric fish.  Later, it became used to also refer to various kinds of
>> explosive devices (e.g., naval mines, as in "damn the torpedos, full speed
>> ahead", and railroad signals).  Today, you usually think of a self-propelled
>> naval weapon, but the fishes are still "torpedos", and the use of the term
>> to refer to a naval mine is obsolete (but would be relevant in, say,
>> discussing the American Civil War).  So is this acquisition (and
>> de-acquisition) of other meanings an example of the meaning of a term
>> "moving with the times" as you describe it?  Or do I really have,
>> so-to-speak, several terms "with the same name" (torpedo).  If the latter,
>> the distinct "terms" seem to have fairly exact and reasonably unchanging
>> meanings (even though the "same name" can cause confusion).  I'm sure
>> there's some linguistic vocabulary to describe this stuff.  The point is,
>> I'm not sure I want "looseness of definition";  what I want is some kind of
>> flexible versioning mechanism.
>> --Frank
> --
> Paola Di Maio
> **********************************
> ISD Labs

Paola Di Maio
ISD Labs

Received on Sunday, 8 February 2009 01:03:14 UTC