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  1. #21
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    Re: linguistic theories (grammar, language)

    I may not have time for a detailed answer until Monday, but I'll try to address the most specific questions:

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    Well, I believe the idea is that scientists look for a way to explain how speakers know that, say, phonemes exists, that they belong to a system that has a pattern that can generate new patterns. The human sound represented here by orthographic "p" not only varies slightly among speakers of the same language, it's not the same "p" sound for speakers of other languages. Some have aspirated p's, other have unaspirated "p", and yet others have plosive p's, like English. But all those languages have one thing in common: a "p" sound.
    And then there are sounds, like say, the Japanese "r"; which somewhere between "r" and "l", and which I keep hearing as "d". Phonemes clearly are not arbitrary, and of course they depend on physiology (chimpanzee's can't produce all human sounds). There are limits on variability within a language, and - whatever people say - human cognition is involved in ways it isn't when an apple falls to the ground.

    Like Plato's idea about the cup. There are the cups we know; they have different shapes, colors, and textures, and not all are use for milk, some for water, others for wine, and yet others for juice. But they are all cups. It's in their function and distribution that we begin to quantify their existence. The same holds true for language data. Function and distribution.
    Yes, but invoking Plato pretty much points towards the philosophic assumptions you're making. A cup is a cup because you know it's a cup. It would be the same object if viewed by an alien, but it would have different (phenomenologist's term) intentionality.

    Phonemes are distinctive units. Nothing more, nothing less. They, like numbers in math, are tools.
    Yes, they are. But "tools" implies a connection to a "tool user". No "tool user", no "tool"; just a strangely regular object.

    There may have been a difference at one time, earlier on. A similar example comes to mind; e.g., how about you? and what about you? Today, most teachers I know and come across feel they are interchangeable; however, at one point in time, not too long ago, they weren't. How about you? meant/means how do you feel about that? That is, what are your feelings, not what are your thoughts?:i.e., what about you? means what do you think about that.
    There was a difference. There still is in some dialects, and no dialect has trouble invoking the sound that's missing in casual speech. Actually they use the sound to approximate the "æ" in English class.

    Language change is something every linguist takes into consideration. S/he must because language is not constant--as much as prescriptivists (not a bad bunch) would like it to be. Language it's fluid; it's liquid. It changes, so its history must figure as a natural part into modern analyses.
    Yes, but see, insight into language change may influence language change. Even mistaken hypotheses (like about the origin of "okay") can have influence on how far some usage spreads. Actually, speakers/hearers understand language change to some extent. A scientists' hypothesis about language is part of language history. How will you escape this?

    True, but first we need to know if there was a distinction or not, and then move forward from that hypothesis.
    Yes, science has stricter procedural rules.


    Why does cognition need enter the picture, though. Math is numbers. Symbols. Language is sound. Symbols. Those tools reveal have patterns, right?
    Which would be a structuralist's or a semiotic approach to language.

    The poor phoneme. Just because we can't see, touch, etc a phoneme doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Distinctive features exist (See previous discussion in "p"), and bundles of them reveal different phonemes; add a feature and you get a new phoneme, deleted a feature a yet another new phoneme, realize those bundles phonetically and you get phones, sounds. Distinctive features are the DNA of a language's sound system. They stem from physiology. Heck, if DNA is a hypothesis, then you, me, and every other living thing on this plant are, dare I say it, designed by intelligence; i.e., God, and not by our biology--which is what language also stems from. Biology is a science, in the true sense of the word, and it's quantifiable. So too is Language. Biological.
    Phones are clearly biological. Phonemes?

    There's a sound-wave on one hand, and a brain-state on the other. The phone is in the sound-wave. Is the phoneme in the brain-state? In the interaction between the sound and brain-state?

    I'm NOT saying the phoneme doesn't exist. I'm saying that what makes a phoneme a phoneme is recognising it as such. The expectation of recognising it in the future. The memory of having recognised it in the past. The ability to produce it. The possibility of making a mistake and realising it. The physics of phoneme is a combination of acoustics and the physics of the brain.

    Many of the processes that make a phoneme a phoneme are shared by the processes that make a hypothesis a hypothesis (memory for example).

    Ah, and so we are back to intelligent design It's all about persuasion, isn't it, this hypothesis v. theory synonymy.
    True, we're back with intelligent design. But we're not with Intelligent Design (capital letters), because we have recourse to them designer and can ask question about them.

    The reason ID is unscientific is because "the Intelligent Designer" is beyond all operational definition. Humans are not.

    If phonemes are biological, and phonemes are distinctions between phones people make, then distinctions are biological. This means that distinctions we make within hypotheses are also biological. Are they biological in the same way? In different ways?

    The thing is that one part of cognition looks at another. Is this possible without both "neuronal pathways" being triggered? Can think about phonemes without triggering phonemes? If the idea of "phonemes" is in your head, what happens when you think about phonemes? Isn't thinking about phonemes another way of saying "thinking about thinking about phones"?

    How marked is the difference between consciousness and unconsciousness. How different is experiencing from remembering? How different is practical categorising from theoretical categorising? Can we ever think about these thinking properly without spiraling into infinite regress of meta-levels?

    This has very real consequences in science: I've heard people argue science about human meaning is impossible and should be called philosophy. It influences in how much we trust in statistics. How much we trust in researchers' intuition and thus in interpretative methods. (Key words: "qualitative vs. quantitave research")

    Phonemes do have a biological basis, but so have scientific hypotheses. We cannot yet use biology to explain the exact difference. I'm not convinced we will be able to, but I'm open to the possibility.

    ***

    Summary:

    [Hypothesis about apples falling to the ground]:[apples falling to the ground] does not equal [hypothesis about categorising phones into phonemes]:[categorising phones into phonemes]

    It is a different relation, with the practical implication that hypotheses about human production of meaning don't have to be verified to be influential. Understanding a hypothesis might not be that different from learning to speak (from second language learning, say).

  2. #22
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    Re: linguistic theories (grammar, language)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
    I may not have time for a detailed answer until Monday, but I'll try to address the most specific questions
    No worries. The discussion is a tad bit on the ethereal side.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    And then there are sounds, like say, the Japanese "r"; which somewhere between "r" and "l", and which I keep hearing as "d".
    Yes, ime too. At first, I kept hearing /d/, so that's how I would pronounce it, but my Japanese colleagues would soon correct me with again what I heard as /d/. I had a professor of phonetics who taught that every phone had a range of variants that were neither phonemic nor allophonic. They were just 'static' that speakers learned to accommodate. Japanese /r/, for example, is not within the static range, so non-Japanese speakers hear the closest variant, which for English speakers is /d/ or /dl/. For Japanese speakers of English, English /r/ is not within their static range, so they hear the closest sound, which to them is a kind of /l/--or rather, and in keeping with the topic, is what native English speakers hear as /l//

    By the by, in pronouncing the Japanese name Ryou, a male's name, I consciously form /d/ and then say [r]. The result, a Japanese /r/ that sounds like something inbetween the affricate in garage and /dl/, but it's neither. It's Japanese /r/, so say my Japanese colleagues.

    There are people who have this knack for knowing how to pronounce a language as if it were their native tongue. I gather those people have an ear for static.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    Yes, but invoking Plato pretty much points towards the philosophic assumptions you're making. A cup is a cup because you know it's a cup. It would be the same object if viewed by an alien, but it would have different (phenomenologist's term) intentionality.
    Good point. Speakers do indeed know that, say, an /r/ is an /r/ because they can discriminate sounds in their language. Other r's in other languages, no; i.e., English <r> v. Japanese <r>. Intention, yes. The ear discriminates sound based on a variety of features, distinctive features. If a feature is unknown, then the closest sound is chosen. So, in other words, discrimination is a form of intentionallity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    But "tools" implies a connection to a "tool user". No "tool user", no "tool"; just a strangely regular object.
    No result at all, more likely. How does that factor in here?

    Back to discrimination. The assumption that each speaker maps and decodes distinctive features in the same way is erroneous, right?; i.e., auditorily dyslexic learners. Within a given language, not just across languages, there also exists variations of intentionallity, call 'em nano-phones.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    Yes, but see, insight into language change may influence language change. Even mistaken hypotheses (like about the origin of "okay") can have influence on how far some usage spreads.
    Bad science is the foundation of good science. Try, try, again, right? Mistakes happen. In fact, most hypotheses end up serving only one purpose, to cancel out what something isn't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    Actually, speakers/hearers understand language change to some extent. A scientists' hypothesis about language is part of language history. How will you escape this?
    Escape...? I'm lost. Sorry.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    Phones are clearly biological. Phonemes?
    They describe what is clearly biological.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    There's a sound-wave on one hand, and a brain-state on the other. The phone is in the sound-wave. Is the phoneme in the brain-state? In the interaction between the sound and brain-state?
    A phoneme is a bundle of distinctive features. The features themselves describe physiological states: articulation and manner, which are not to my present knowledge--I could be behind in my reading, though--"processes that make a hypothesis a hypothesis (memory for example)." Place of articulation and manner are not connected to how memory works. (Does anyone know yet how memory works?) I may have missed your point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    The reason ID is unscientific is because "the Intelligent Designer" is beyond all operational definition. Humans are not.
    I'd rather not step into that minefield, if that's OK with you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    If phonemes are biological, and phonemes are distinctions between phones people make, then distinctions are biological.
    Phonemes describe physiology. It is in that sense that they are connected to our biology.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    Isn't thinking about phonemes another way of saying "thinking about thinking about phones"?
    I doubt speakers consciously focus on phonemes, or for that matter the innerworkings of their DNA.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    How marked is the difference between consciousness and unconsciousness. How different is experiencing from remembering? How different is practical categorising from theoretical categorising? Can we ever think about these thinking properly without spiraling into infinite regress of meta-levels?
    Again, you've lost me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    We cannot yet use biology to explain the exact difference. I'm not convinced we will be able to, but I'm open to the possibility.
    But we have. Distinctive features.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    ... hypotheses about human production of meaning don't have to be verified to be influential.
    The same can be said about any field, say, the idea that the earth is flat--some people to this day still believe that you know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    Understanding a hypothesis might not be that different from learning to speak (from second language learning, say).
    Where's the connection?
    Last edited by Casiopea; 11-Aug-2007 at 13:14.

  3. #23
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    Re: linguistic theories (grammar, language)

    Part two: the trickier questions:

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    Phonemes are distinctive units. Nothing more, nothing less. They, like numbers in math, are tools.
    Last post I focused on "tools". This time it's "distinctive units":

    Phonemes are not distinctive units in the same way that, say, apples are:

    Apples are physical; phonemes are abstract (the equivalent to the apple is the phone). So what is a phonem? An interpretated phone? An interpretative pattern applied to a phone? A phone wouldn't exist if a speaker didn't intend to produce a phonem.

    Let's imagine ants emerging into sentience; they don't hear well and communicate with pheromones. They develope a device that interprets sound, and pick up speech. They would have access to phones, but not - at first - to phonemes. The only way to access phonems is to reconstruct the interpretative patterns that went into their creation. Else, all speech might as well be odd music. But if ants have no concept of spoken words, they might never find out about phonemes.

    So: ants could interpret phones as odd music or as phonemes. Only one of these interpretations produces the object. The concept of the phoneme is the phoneme. If you don't see the concept all you have is the phone.

    The same isn't true of apples: ants may not interpret apples in the same way humans do. But they interpret the same object. They interpret an apple the way they interpret a phone. The phonem presupposes knowledge of phonems to exist.

    In such a way hypotheses about phonemes might be - to a certain extent - self-referential - by evoking phonemes from phones. And this is basically the answer to this question:

    Why does cognition need enter the picture, though. Math is numbers. Symbols. Language is sound. Symbols. Those tools reveal have patterns, right?
    Basically, phonemes (unlike phones) consist of cognition. Without cognition there literally are no phonemes. Hypotheses about phonemes are hypotheses about the interpretation of phones. In how far does the interpretation of phones behave like hypotheses about phones? Are we beginning on a hermeneutic circle?

    Probably in exactly the same way the expressions of artists, be they painters, writers, software developers, etc. deviate from their audience's / critics' interpretations.
    Analogy. The question has just been broadened, not narrowed down. ;)

    Great discussion, Dawnstorm.

    ______________
    By coincidence, I'm into the first chapter of The GOD delusion by Richard Dawkins.
    I'm enjoying the discussion, too.

    What do you think about Dawkin's book? I took a look, but it sounded too American to me (addressing points that don't seem such a big deal in central Europe).

    Quote Originally Posted by Bianca
    In saying that intuition is hypothesis, I basically mean that intuition can be seen as a subconscious hypothesis about what might happen, although it incorporates contextual or general truths. All ideas or hypotheses start as intuitions. The intuition about gravitation incorporates the general truth of things reaching the ground when they fall. In other words, emotions may have a role in driving 'hunches', but also does critical reflection.
    Yes, intuition and hypotheses share certain cognitive properties. This is why many social scientist don't trust objectivity, and substitute the term "inter-subjectivity" (wikipedia) for it. Instead object related, research is consensus related. We're looking at people-created things.

  4. #24
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    Re: linguistic theories (grammar, language)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
    Yes, intuition and hypotheses share certain cognitive properties. This is why many social scientist don't trust objectivity, and substitute the term "inter-subjectivity" (wikipedia) for it. Instead object related, research is consensus related. We're looking at people-created things.
    This is why, I believe, we are back to the beginning of the thread - theories are essentially hypotheses. Or, in other words, scientific theories exist simply due to our inability to reach at the essence. How objective are they, and according to whom? They are 'afflicted' with human subjectivity, and covered with the cultural fingerprints of their creators. The mere fact that they are consructed by means of language says it all. The only tool we have to define language is language itself. Take the example with the apple - to define the empirical concept of the apple (as an individual) begins with defining the perceived concept of the apple. Or, does the apple exist at all? (Sartre claimed that existentialism precedes essence.)
    Discussion of definitions will lead to hair-splitting, but they are indeed interesting.


    Thanks Dawnstorm. Great talk!
    Last edited by bianca; 12-Aug-2007 at 09:06.

  5. #25
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    Re: linguistic theories (grammar, language)

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    No worries. The discussion is a tad bit on the ethereal side.
    Hehe. You got in a post before I managed my sequal.

    By the by, in pronouncing the Japanese name Ryou, a male's name, I consciously form /d/ and then say [r]. The result, a Japanese /r/ that sounds like something inbetween the affricate in garage and /dl/, but it's neither. It's Japanese /r/, so say my Japanese colleagues.
    I just placed my tongue where diagrams said I should and produced a r/l sound. I thought I messed it up, but my teacher (a native speaker) didn't complain.

    There are people who have this knack for knowing how to pronounce a language as if it were their native tongue. I gather those people have an ear for static.
    I wonder if that's connected to absolute pitch in music?

    Good point. Speakers do indeed know that, say, an /r/ is an /r/ because they can discriminate sounds in their language. Other r's in other languages, no; i.e., English <r> v. Japanese <r>. Intention, yes. The ear discriminates sound based on a variety of features, distinctive features. If a feature is unknown, then the closest sound is chosen. So, in other words, discrimination is a form of intentionallity.
    Yes, it influences what people pay attention to, and what they dismiss as unimportant.

    No result at all, more likely. How does that factor in here?
    The point was: if you don't know how to use a hammer and what to use it for or on, then it's just an object you may find useful, depending on the connections you make. (Pacman will eat it.)

    Back to discrimination. The assumption that each speaker maps and decodes distinctive features in the same way is erroneous, right?; i.e., auditorily dyslexic learners. Within a given language, not just across languages, there also exists variations of intentionallity, call 'em nano-phones.
    Hehe. Nice term.

    Yes, to categorise phones, you set borders in a continuum. Otherwise, the very fact that different people speak the phone would make it a different phone.

    Bad science is the foundation of good science. Try, try, again, right? Mistakes happen. In fact, most hypotheses end up serving only one purpose, to cancel out what something isn't.
    Yes, but it's not about bad or good science. It's that bad science can become good science because people adapt to the bad results: Self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Tell them long enough a difference exists and people may make a difference, even if there was none at the time of the (bad) study. To the extent that scientific findings get known people adapt.

    Lots of techniques that were effective at first became cultural techniques: psychoanalytic therapy, IQ tests, questionnaires... These techniques were more effective when they caught the public unawares. It's terribly hard, for example, to filter typical questionnaire behaviour from the answers.

    Escape...? I'm lost. Sorry.
    Researching language is part of what changes language (often in unpredictable ways). Researching gravity has no effect on gravity.

    They describe what is clearly biological.
    I'm not convinced. Phonemes don't describe phones. Phonemes describe what aspect of phones make a difference in a given language. That is not part of the phone, but part of the perception of a phone.

    A phoneme is a bundle of distinctive features. The features themselves describe physiological states: articulation and manner, which are not to my present knowledge--I could be behind in my reading, though--"processes that make a hypothesis a hypothesis (memory for example)." Place of articulation and manner are not connected to how memory works. (Does anyone know yet how memory works?) I may have missed your point.
    Distinctive features rely on somebody to make a distinction. I hope to have addressed that at least somewhat in my other post. (I tend to confuse myself, too. )

    I'd rather not step into that minefield, if that's OK with you.
    That's fine with me. My main point was that phones are designed. By people. Made from phonetic raw material. They're no more natural than, say, a hammer.

    Phonemes describe physiology. It is in that sense that they are connected to our biology.
    Phones describe physiology. Phonemes set values to important/not important, depending on how the phone has been described. (It's more complicated than that, but I'd prefer not to go deeper right now, hoping for productive confusion, rather than a puddle of thought...)

    I doubt speakers consciously focus on phonemes, or for that matter the innerworkings of their DNA.
    I agree. It's the un- or subconscious content that matters most. It doesn't matter much to researching DNA, because DNA are acids that exist independent of brain-activity. Phonemes are dependent on brain-activity to exist. (See ant-thought-experiment in other post)

    Again, you've lost me.

    ...

    But we have. Distinctive features.
    We're understanding the features, we're understanding the distinctions, but we don't really understand how distinction making relates both to phonemes and hypothesis about phonems.

    Try the consciousness discussions in neuroscience (Chinese Room, Neuroscientist Called Mary...). I'm not derailing this thread even further, if that's okay with you?

    The same can be said about any field, say, the idea that the earth is flat--some people to this day still believe that you know.
    What people believe about flat/round earths is quite irrelevant to the earth. If all the people on earth suddenly forget to make a certain distinction (say between "use" and "utilise"), the difference will disappear. Beliefs about human activity produce/vanish human activity.

    How will you arrive at a theory, when you have to research the effect the reception of your hypothesis had on your hypothesis? The effect is quite negligible when it comes to phonemes, I admit. But once you reach controversial subjects...

    Where's the connection?
    Second language learning is pretty much a mix of imitation and testing out hypotheses on either teachers or native speakers. (Gross simplification, but it should do for the purpose at hand).

    ***

    Brain cool-off phase.

  6. #26
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    Re: linguistic theories (grammar, language)

    Quote Originally Posted by bianca View Post
    Ideas stem from intuition, from an unconscious linguistic system of signs. Descartes said that one can only arrive at pure intuition through the 'reduction from language'. This is because language describes what is already present to consciousness before the advent of any signs.
    There's a whole lot of Saphir-Whorf in that. In this too:
    Quote Originally Posted by bianca
    Seen in the semiotic context, scientific theories are hypotheses (Poincare) - because they are tarnished by language.
    And this:
    Quote Originally Posted by bianca
    Defining any object (theory, hypothesis and so on) is basically a matter of discourse.

  7. #27
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    Re: linguistic theories (grammar, language)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    I wonder if [static is] connected to absolute pitch in music?
    Well, if anything, it's [ej] hypothesis or [aen] hypothesis.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    The point was: if you don't know how to use a hammer and what to use it for or on, then it's just an object you may find useful, depending on the connections you make. (Pacman will eat it.)
    Yet the assumption there is that the tool was there all along. Surely that's not the case with distinctive features, that that the bundles (phonemes) are mapped prior to experience?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    I'm not convinced. Phonemes don't describe phones. / ... / That is not part of the phone, but part of the perception of a phone.
    Production, though, isn't perception. I get what you're saying about perception being questionable when it comes to quantification (similar to your point here: How will you arrive at a theory, when you have to research the effect the reception of your hypothesis had on your hypothesis? The effect is quite negligible when it comes to phonemes, I admit), but articulation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    We're understanding the features, we're understanding the distinctions, but we don't really understand how distinction making relates both to phonemes and hypothesis about phonems.
    Wait... when did distinctive features become hypothetical?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    Try the consciousness discussions in neuroscience (Chinese Room, Neuroscientist Called Mary...). I'm not derailing this thread even further, if that's okay with you?
    Yes, it's fine. Could you give me the gist?

    I agree with biana, I am enjoying the discussion.

  8. #28
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    Re: linguistic theories (grammar, language)

    Quote Originally Posted by bianca
    The only tool we have to define language is language itself. Take the example with the apple - to define the empirical concept of the apple (as an individual) begins with defining the perceived concept of the apple.
    An excellent point. It begs the question, how do the hard sciences, say, physicists, for one, get around perception?

  9. #29
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    Re: linguistic theories (grammar, language)

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    Well, if anything, it's [ej] hypothesis or [aen] hypothesis.
    Hehe.

    Yet the assumption there is that the tool was there all along. Surely that's not the case with distinctive features, that that the bundles (phonemes) are mapped prior to experience?
    No, the assumption is that the object was there all along, and it only turns into a tool once observed by a knowledgeable person.

    I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "mapped prior to existance", so if I'm missing your point correct me:

    Phonemes are first mapped upon the brain (in neural pathways) when you're learning a language. You learn what distinctions to pay attention to, and what distinctions to ignore. You then have a map you can use to make sense of phones; you have an expectation of encountering phonemes riding piggy back on phones. They are mapped prior to experience (unless you're talking about the very first language learning, which is a rather special case.)

    The toolness of a hammer doesn't lie with the hammer. The phoneme-ness of a phone doesn't reside with the phone.

    Production, though, isn't perception. I get what you're saying about perception being questionable when it comes to quantification (similar to your point here: How will you arrive at a theory, when you have to research the effect the reception of your hypothesis had on your hypothesis? The effect is quite negligible when it comes to phonemes, I admit), but articulation?
    No, it isn't. But production is the flipside of perception, when it comes to products of human meaning.

    Perception: By uttering the phone P, person X meant to produce phoneme Pm. (Yes/No)
    Production: By hearing me uttering phone P, Person X will realise I'm producing phoneme Pm. (Yes/No)

    All you do is switch perspectives. The process is the same.

    An anecdote (involving writing rather than speech):

    I am Austrian. My mother tongue is German. In Austria, boxes often sport the word "fragile" (English), to indicate that the contents are "zerbrechlich" (German word). But one of Austria's neighbours is Italy. Italian boxes also sport the letters "fragile", but this time the word is italian, which makes for a different pronunciation (~frah-gee-leh). I once came across a piece of art in a meadow. It was a huge rusty iron cube, and printed across it were the letters "fragile". Without further information, how do I pronounce this?

    If I did not speak Italian at all, I'd clearly use an English graphem-to-phoneme tranlation convention. If I did not speak English at all, I'd use an Italian one. As I know both, I guessed (English, based on frequeny-expectation.) If I was deaf and dumb, I'd probably have been content to map graphemes to meaning straight away.

    What if "phonemic ambiguity" is intention behind the word? Would producing any actual "phonemic realisation" be a mistaken realisation? Would the only appropriate response be silence? Or is it a quantum system, like Schrödinger's cat? Both English and Italian until read? Or should you attempt to produce English with an Italian accent? Italian with an English accent?

    We can describe the letters. We can describe cultural patterns of grapheme-to-phoneme translation. I did, in that situation, and what I did is not that different from what a researcher would do under systematic research conditions (it is different, but we can assume a lot of overlap). To describe the situation, though, it is necessary to describe what information I thought of, as it is important to the triggered reaction. The more studies about such boxes I read the more complex my triggered reaction can be.

    Production depends as much on hypotheses as perception does.

    Wait... when did distinctive features become hypothetical?
    In everyday life, they are hypothetical. I make a distinction based on my hypothesis that others also make the same (or at least a compatible) distinction. Misunderstandings point to a failure of the hypothesis. Misunderstandings usually lead to re-negotiations of the situation.

    But you can't negotiate with gravity.

    Yes, it's fine. Could you give me the gist?
    The basic question is: Why are brain-states accompanied by experience? What is experience? If we knew all about the brain, would we know all about consciousness?

    A neuroscientist called Mary (Frank Jackson): A brilliant neuroscientist, Mary, is locked into a black and white room. She has access to the outside world via a black and white screen. (Apparantly, she herself is also black and white, or alternately she is incapable of viewing herself; the setup doesn't specifiy.) She finds out all there is to know about how the brain processes "red". Then she leaves the room and sees a red object.

    Does she acquire new information? (To outline all the answers would be a thread - or a book - of its own.)

    Chinese Room (John Searle): Imagine a man sitting in a room, receiving slips of paper with Chinese characters. According to delicate rule book, he produces slips in reply, convincing the people outside the room that he understands Chinese? Does he?

    Both these thought experiments are often discussed with respect to modern neuroscience (even if John Searle's thought experiment originated with AI research).

    An excellent point. It begs the question, how do the hard sciences, say, physicists, for one, get around perception?
    Or: why does perception bias matter less in the "hard sciences"?

    Simplified: I can decide to never utter an "æ", and I can decide to never be subject to gravity. The former is impractical, the latter impossible.

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    bianca is offline Senior Member
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    Re: linguistic theories (grammar, language)

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    An excellent point. It begs the question, how do the hard sciences, say, physicists, for one, get around perception?
    To speak about perception one must speak about reason. Or, is our world a perceptual experience or a construct of rational, scientific objectivism? Or both?

    Take a look at these dual pairs: scientific objectivism - philosophical reflection, or rationality - subjective opinion (doxa). They go opposite ways with regard to the realization of our world.

    Hard sciences don't go around perception: they pretty much neglect it. They go so far as to believe they can divest themselves of philosophical reflection, because such reflection is considered to contribute nothing toward the advance of scientific knowledge.

    The world so understood by hard sciences (positivism) is an empirical concept (essentially rational),while postmodern philosophy (transcedental phenomenology - Husserl) see the world as intuited or perceived through consciousness (essentially natural). Or, in other words, the former reason is a finite or a unifying one, the phenomenological reason is an open (self-transcedental) reason, which is a movement away from the limitations of pure theoretical reason. Scientific reason may change its premises from time to time throughout history, or even at the same stage of history, but phenomenological reason (due to its being based on perception) opens for pluralistic possibilities of self-transcendence (moving beyond limitations).

    Although taking different approaches to defining the world, the two branches go hand in hand: "hard" reason operates latently in intuition as well (I gave you the example with the intuition about gravity). In this sense, if logic is the reason of the mind, then intuition must be the reason of the body.

    I'm not sure I understood Dawnstorm's last comment, though. Would you mind explaining it to me?
    Last edited by bianca; 12-Aug-2007 at 21:15.

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