Words have no Meaning

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by BeHereNow, Feb 24, 2008.

  1. BeHereNow Registered Senior Member

    Words in themselves have no meaning on their own.
    They are just arbitrary symbols used to represent things and concepts.
    We give meaning to words by our usage.
    By our common usage we give words common meanings.

    By our diverse usage we have problems understanding each other.

    These words below have similar meanings, are related terms.

    All of them have in common the idea of being a representation of what actually is. All of them try, but which ones are always accurate?

    I have listed some of the concepts I try to determine, from the usage by other persons. Not what I mean by the use of the term, but what others mean.
    I’m sure my list is not exhaustive, and was interested in seeing what I have missed.

    I doubt that we can come to a mutual agreement on any particular meaning, but you never know.

    Fact – Human contrivance (sometime true, sometimes false) or Actually exists (always true);

    Belief - Always mistaken/uncertain; Sometimes mistaken/uncertain; Always held to be true by the believer?

    Truth - Knowable by the mind; only exists in the mind; human contrivance (sometimes true, sometimes false); actually exists?

    Reality – knowable by the mind; only exists in the mind; only exists outside the mind; both internal and external to the mind?

    Existence – That which is; That which is, was, or will be; Only occurs in the mind; Only occurs outside the mind;

    Knowledge – Human contrivance (sometimes true, sometimes false); Accurate awareness of reality;

    Understanding – Human contrivance (sometime true, sometimes false); Accurate awareness of reality (always true); Deeper awareness than understanding;
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  3. Aivar A.R. Registered Senior Member

    I'd say...

    reality: Everything that is. Which excludes past and future. Past and future matter because of their relation to "now", AKA reality, but aren't real at the moment. It includes imagination only as an image (a symbol of chemcial components instead of words) in someone's head, since it should exclude all ideas which "don't have foothold in reality".

    Does reality include ideas and events? Do systems which take time to happen exist? I may conflict myself, but I'd say "yes". Even if reality needs to move on the timeline, if they exist, they still have to exist. Processes exist.

    Belief: Something which a person accepts without question. It may or may not have evidence behind it, and it may or may not be true. The person who believes something may not even notice it, on some occasions. But the person who believes, accepts something as a basic truth, to get a stable solid something to build their world around.
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  5. BeHereNow Registered Senior Member

    I'd say, reality includes the occurrence of the idea, that is the chemical reaction which causes the idea, but the subject of the idea, is not real.

    Events are merely material things in movement. All things are transient, therefore in movement.

    The only way to truly know reality is to experience it. Others may share facts, or truths about reality, but if I do not experience it, I have knowledge only, and not understanding.
    The past was real, the future will be real, both are potentials, one realized and one to be realized.
    A series of existences, fulfills a process.
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  7. Vkothii Banned Banned

    You guys should all read up on what Kant had to say about belief. You are in fact discussing notions of it and what "it" is. There's a copy online somewhere of "Critique of Reason"
  8. Aivar A.R. Registered Senior Member

    And I would go as far as to say that the chemical reaction is symbol, a foothold, an index for the idea. Just like a word or an image.

    My name is Aivar, though. Not Aviar. I don't know why everone makes the same mistake.
  9. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    what does it matter, your all figments of my imagination anyway. This thread only exists because i now view it

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

  10. BeHereNow Registered Senior Member

    (Sorry about the spelling.)
    I’m having problems understanding this.
    Are you saying the idea has an existence external to the mind, and the thought process is a symbol for the idea?

    ~ ~ ~ ~
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    If you are referring to “Critique of Pure Reason”, been there, done that.

    Kant says “If our holding of the judgment be only subjectively sufficient, and is at the same time as being objectively insufficient, we have what is termed believing.”

    This is what our friend Jan Arden was trying to express.
    I believe this says we “know” our thoughts (beliefs) are merely subjective, and have no objective basis.
    This is an unconventional position for the meaning of belief
    To me what Kant describes as a belief is an opinion.

    Kant says an opinion lacks evidence to be sufficient for even a subjective judgment (“Opining is such holding of a judgment as is consciously insufficient, not only objective, but also subjectively.”). If my judgments are based on evidence so weak, I cannot classify them as being as strong as a subjective position. . . . well, what is it that is weaker that a subjective viewpoint? To me, that is a disbelief.

    So Vkothii, You are welcome to try to defend Kant’s position, but it is unusual, and easy to raise objections.
  11. Aivar A.R. Registered Senior Member

    Yes to that the thought process is a symbol for the idea.

    An idea having an existence external to the mind... well... think of the Ancient Greek "realm of ideas". I don't claim we're born from a realm of ideas like they used to, but I would say that ideas and concepts and math all logic is in a sort of unlreal "realm of ideas". It doesn't exist in reality, but... uh... I'm not sure how I should even put this.

    Processes and meaningful, systematic events and certain forms have a foothold in reality. I guess you could say I believe ideas are invading reality and giving it meaning. And the chemical processes in our heads, the images and words, are indexes for the ideas we already see in existence and what we may come up with through imagination.
  12. BeHereNow Registered Senior Member

    I’m with you until certain forms. I take it these certain forms exist in the unreal realm of ideas. Reminiscent of Plato’s theory of forms. There exists the ideal form of a perfect bucket, to which all actual buckets are compared to, and judged accordingly. We evaluate how much bucketness a particular (existing) container has. We do not do this in a conscious manner, but how are we to know how good our bucket is, unless there is an ideal to compare it to.
    Have I got it correct?

    I have found no perfect ideals for the qualities of bucketness, and find that for any use of a bucket, there is a special, unique need, that exhibits subjectivity in its ultimate form. I have found no perfect ideals, not in reality, and not in imagination.

    Your ”Ideas invading reality”, taken literally, means these ideas exist outside reality. You might mean it in a different way.
    If they exist outside reality. . .well, supernatural?
    Once you say something enters (invades) reality. . . do you have some description of this domain outside reality?
    How are you aware of it's existence?
    How does one know about the unreal?
    Are we to trust fully some rational process that sees the possibility, or is there real evidence of the unreal realm?
  13. Aivar A.R. Registered Senior Member

    Yes. I still retain that ideal ideas and reality are separate. What we do have is always in reality, real etc. So it's can't be an idea in a pure form. An idea is... an idea.

    Hmm... well... there's the logic of "one plus one is two". I think the logic would still be "there", if there wasn't any reality. The idea takes no room. It could be rediscovered, reapplied, if there's any reality. Only it couldn't apply to anything if there isn't.

    I guess I'd say ideas are supernatural, then.

    How are we aware of ideas' existence at all? In a lot of ways... I'm not sure we are. Unless we can draw a symbol for them in our heads, and even then it'll be slightly off. But we do have symbols and projections (imperfect forms in the image of the idea) of ideas. Don't we?
  14. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    A truth is based on facts, a belief is based on myths. Words always have two or more meanings it would seem to me.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2008
  15. BeHereNow Registered Senior Member

    I’m not much for the supernatural myself.

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    But who gets to decide what is fact, and what is myth, there’s the rub.

    Two or more meanings, and then some. The trick is to get the person giving us their attention, to know which way we mean the word in a particular usage.
    For example, with some usage, myth can mean a false or mistaken story.
    I do not know if you mean beliefs are always mistaken, or maybe sometimes false.
  16. Aivar A.R. Registered Senior Member

    I'm not much for dogmas or accepting things without reason, myself.

    But it seems sufficiently likely for me to believe there are pure ideas. The idea can still be in effect, when there's no specific mind which comprehends it (unless you count the "tree doesn't make a sound if noone hears it crash" theory. But I'm not convinced by that, yet). And yet, a pure idea does not exist in reality. It only affects it.

    While I haven't thoroughly worked it through or tested it through fire and I don't know if there's a study or a view or a religion to represent/estimate this kind of view, it seems plausible enough for me, for now. Hm. But it may be getting off topic. I should start a new one about this sometime.
  17. Vkothii Banned Banned

    My take on Immanuel's discourse, is that he's talking about two kinds of belief, essentially.

    One is the kind of epistemological belief we have, because of something (some event) we see. Sunrises, lunar cycles, weather, and so on are in this category. Things we "see" or experience, via our senses, are epistemic. This is "knowledge" we have about the world.

    The other kind of belief, is the kind we have about things we are told, but haven't seen ourselves - that aren't part of direct experience. Most people believe that WW1 happened, even though they weren't born then. Those alive, but not living near the Western front, had knowledge of the war, too.

    So those are the two different kinds, or ways we believe: direct experiental "knowledge", and conditional, i.e. "requiring affirmation".
    I believe there's a structure called the Empire State Building in NY, though I've never seen it, except in pictures. I've never been to NY, but I believe it exists. I believe that whales go to the Southern Ocean during the summer, though I've never been to the Southern Ocean. And so on.
  18. BeHereNow Registered Senior Member

    Just the facts ;>)

    I think there should be a word that describes things that are “true”, “not false” or “accurate”, simply because society says they are.

    Statistic are a very good example. Statistics are often an approximation, or an unknowable variable, but are considered accurate enough to be "true". Babe Ruth hit a certain number of home runs in his career, because we say so. Naturally there is a lot of evidence to support this, but maybe one got missed in the counting, or maybe one got counted twice, but nobody worries about these possibilities. It is considered a true statistic, an accurate reflection of reality.

    Countries have certain cities as capitols, because we name them.

    A certain county is the leading export of a certain produce, because that is what the books say. The people who keep track of such things, came up with a number, and now it is “true”.

    Water boils at 100 degrees centigrade/sea level, because that is the number we came up with.

    The Pope is the head of the Catholic Church, because we say he is.

    In a particular kind of government or economical system, if the people are happy with these aspects of their life, it will be accepted as true that the government and economic system is “good”. “We have a good government.”, will be accepted as a true statement, in that particular society.

    In another country, it may be considered a true statement to say “They have a bad type of government.”.

    So the society (however large or small that might be) gets to say what is true about certain things. These may conform to reality, may be an approximation, or may be what is often called an opinion.

    In some cases there will be competing societies, who will not recognize these same “truths”.

    Certainly we could call these subjective truths, but most societies are offended at calling their subjective truths, subjective. They want to claim their view as the real “truth”, so although subjective truths is descriptive, it would not be well received, because t has an unpopular connotation.

    I think a better term, that describes “truths” that are true because a society says so, is the word Facts.

    I’m interested in discussing why this is not a good idea, why the word facts should mean something else, or why the meaning "true because society says it is true" is better applied to a different word or term.
  19. BeHereNow Registered Senior Member

    Vkothii, and others.

    I don't care much for Kant's usage.

    I can’t help feeling that: the speaker has truths, whereas their opponent has beliefs.

    Other than that, I believe the criteria is the same. And I believe there are many criterea that could be listed, that there is not, one obvious list of what it takes for a truth or belief. Regardless of the criterea, when there is a difference among groups, it is because the speaker has truths, and the opponent has beliefs.

    Any agreement, or disagreement?
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2008
  20. Myles Registered Senior Member

    And that's not to mention synonyms !
  21. Myles Registered Senior Member


    If you will allow me to simplify rather than get bogged down in epistemology.

    A belief is what it says. It may be right or it may be wrong. I believe it will rain tomorrow. If it does , I cannot claim that I had knowledge , i.e., I had no evidence, only a belief/ opinion

    Knowledge is justified belief, i.e., it is supported by evidence. I know it is raining now because I can experience the rain and get others to agree that I am having that experience.

    I also know that Washington DC is the capital of the US. I can go there and check it out, i.e., seek evidence that will show that my belief is justified.

    So, one can believe anything but belief is not knowledge, It may be right or it may be wrong. Knowledge cannot be wrong because it must be supported by evidence.
  22. BeHereNow Registered Senior Member

    You say you would believe something as true, with no evidence.
    And you think you are typical?

    I don’t get it. Why would anyone believe something with no evidence.
    For that matter, why would someone have an opinion with no evidence?
    I have had occasions to think about decision making. That is what we are talking about, isn’t it? We are talking about making a decision such as: “I have a belief this is true.”, and you would make such a decision with no evidence.
    I would say I have very little respect for your decision making.

    Well, you have not shown that beliefs can be formulated without evidence. If it is possible, I do not think it is common place.

    Even if you could, evidence supports falseness as handily as it supports truthfulness. Knowledge may be true, it may be false. Evidence has sent men to their death in a legal court of law, and some of those death causing decisions were based on false conclusions. Yes you can get others to agree with you, whether you are correct or not.

    This is a thing that is true because we say it is true. Every rational person knows it is true, and only an irrational person would disagree with your claim.
    When there is no disagreement, no justification is necessary. There is no need to justify your claim to any sane person. If justification is necessary for knowledge, this is not knowledge.

    What you say is a truism. Knowledge must be supported by the evidence.
    The problems is, who gets to decide what is acceptable evidence?
    Among Christians, there is much evidence Jesus was the only son of God, and the savior of the world.
    Do you claim among Christians there is not an abundance of evidence for these things?

    Is there knowledge about global warming?
    There is conflicting information about the causes and effects of global warming, especially in regard to mankind’s role, and all of the beliefs are supported by evidence, so is all of the information knowledge, that cannot be wrong?

    In many cases there are two sides, each with evidence, and you would have us believe . . . .what?
    Are we to think any time there is disagreement between two groups, neither one has knowledge (true information), or do they both have knowledge?
  23. Vkothii Banned Banned

    It's like this:
    we see stuff, and we call it "knowing" that stuff happens (has happened). This means we believe it happened. We may also believe that it will happen (in some future). Maybe we see it happen more than once, which tends to strengthen our "belief" (not "knowing") that it will happen again.

    Then there's the 2nd-hand stuff, that we don't experience directly, but through "others".

    That's the guts of Kant's ideas from "Critique". Or the chapter he put together about "belief".

    Or not.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2008

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