Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence

From: Kenneth Van Oost (
Date: Wed Mar 27 2002 - 18:40:44 GMT

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    From: "Kenneth Van Oost" <>
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    Subject: Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence
    Date: Wed, 27 Mar 2002 19:40:44 +0100
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    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Grant Callaghan <>
    That's where the twain no longer meet, Kenneth. I say a word means what I
    use it to mean when I manke an assertion. You may not understand what I
    mean by it, or you may think I'm not using the word properly, but the
    meaning of the word I mean when I say it is mine. What you get from it is
    yours. The "meaning" you are talking about is the most common meaning as
    exhibited in a dictionary. But if you are trying to understand what I or
    anyone else is saying, you have to make a judgement about what I/they are
    using the word to mean. You will understand my words in direct proportion
    to your familiarity with how I have used those words in the past. The less
    familiar you are, the less likely you are to understand.

    A hip, for example, is commonly a reference to a part of the body. But if I
    ask, "Are you hip?" that's a different usage entirely. And if I say "I'm
    going to hip you in the head," that's a meaning you might have to reach for
    to understand. But how I use the word determines what it means to the
    people I am addressing it to. Jazz musicians might have no trouble at all
    understanding that last quotation. An English teacher, on the other hand,
    might just be confused by it.

    Hi Grant,

    Yeah, that is what Putman meant, I suppose.
    You mustn 't confuse the meaning of the words/ expressions with the usual
    criteria which defines the reference of a word.
    Everybody knows,( like you with Hip) a lot of stereotypical characteris-
    tics about what ' hip ' could mean. You have mentioned a few.
    But if the meaning of a word is fixed into its reference, than is the
    of that word what IT IS.
    In Putmans example, the reference is fixed by which what the substance
    has to be in all kinds of different worlds possible to be water_ thus H2O.
    In all possible worlds water has to be H2O and H2O has to be water
    and not like Putman said " twater ".

    It means that you indeed can use the word ' hip ' in all the by us known
    possibilities ( and a few new ones can be found, I don 't doubt that), but
    you can 't make up a few where ' hip ' looses its reference_ that is its
    meaning in all possible worlds.
    Meaning, that the 'real meaning' of any word is known only to a small
    group of people_ only by jazz players for example.

    You can indeed force a new meaning for the word hip, but only after
    agreement it will be accepted as such.
    You can 't say, in a way I am going to blow my hip... I suppose every-
    body will know what you are talking about ( by resemblance), but ' hip '
    has no reference with/ to that expression.
    Jus for laughs_ break a hip ! Sounds more agressive than the tendency
    for good fortune if you break a leg, don 't you think !?

    That is what Putman meant, without the reference a word has no meaning.
    PS, I am not an expert in such matters, I was just reading an article....



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