Re: why indexicals?

From: M Lissack (
Date: Sat 31 Jan 2004 - 18:28:38 GMT

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    Indexicals are word tokens which stand for [words ideas things events etc] where the meaning of the word token is determined by reference to the situation/context in which the word token is used

    thus the word token functions like an index does in that it stands for the larger set of which it is but a sign

    the NYSE index and the DJIA are both indexes which stand for the stock market in some sense

    pronouns are indexes which stand for the nouns which they signify

    a New England common was an indexical in that it could be the grazing field, play ground, garden, meeting place, parking lot etc

    if a word token has only one meaning not situationally/contextual determined it is not an indexical however even one meaning word tokens can be used indexically to stand for something else/larger/etc


    --- Danny Iny <> wrote:
    > I've been thinking about the example of the park
    > bench that has been going around here for the last
    > few days, and I'm starting to think Michael might be
    > right about his redefinition. The bench acts as a
    > catalyst for certain responses in the viewers, with
    > the responses varying depending on which other such
    > catalysts they've been exposed to in the past.
    > I tried reading Michael's article again, but I found
    > the language very difficult to navigate (sorry
    > Michael). In trying to better understand his idea, I
    > thought about the new definition - catalytical
    > indexicals. I know what a catalyst is, but I wasn't
    > sure about indexicals (I understand the word but it
    > doesn't seem to make much sense in the context). A
    > search on gave me the following
    > definition for indexical (as a noun): "A deictic
    > word or element". Another search for deictic (also
    > as a noun) turned up "A deictic word, such as I or
    > there?".
    > Michael, I think I understand what you mean by memes
    > as catalysts, but I'm not so clear about the
    > indexicals part. On a scale of one to ten, how good
    > is my grasp of your redefinition? Maybe we would all
    > benefit if you could post your redefinition in just
    > a couple of paragraphs, more clearly stated (the
    > whole problem with the old definition is that it's
    > so muddled and everyone has a different view on what
    > exactly it is... a new definition that suffers from
    > the same problems doesn't solve much).
    > Danny

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