Page 6 of 6 FirstFirst ... 2 3 4 5 6
Results 51 to 58 of 58
  1. #51
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    101
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: linguistic theories (grammar, language)

    Quote Originally Posted by bianca View Post
    P.S.Do philosophers really know what they are saying? My own inclination is to believe they are correct, but we need a deeper theory than theirs to explain their theories.
    Hehe, I like that.

    Can the brain theories (Freud's for instance) be named scientific theories, have they been empirically tested and validated?
    Well, Freud's theories have often been called unscientific, on account of dealing with "meaning". So, instead, Behaviourism (e.g. Pawlow) tries to focus on verifiable/falsifiable things: stimulus & response; but then the question is whether "meaning" is reducible to behaviour.

    Since that didn't really seem to be the case, behaviourism led to "Rational Choice Theory".

    All these things aren't so much "causal theories", but rather descriptive models. "Rational Choice Theories" are more popular in economics and sociology than in psychology, because the model doesn't seem to do well on the individual level. On "social levels", however, individual differences seem to cancel each other out "statistically", so that "rationality" remains as a quasi-objective guide-line, an independent bias.

    ***

    The good news is that most "wh-"s seem to be rather easy to verify: who, where, when, what, how (well, the "w" is in the wrong place, or it's an honorary "wh-"? hehe).

    The troublesome "wh-" is: "why?" (It's also the most interesting "wh-" in psychology.)

    Thank god it's less important in linguistics. (It's still important enough to cause trouble, to be sure.)
    Last edited by Dawnstorm; 21-Aug-2007 at 13:44. Reason: edit: I wrote "knews" instead of "news". Heh!

  2. #52
    bianca is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • Swedish
      • Home Country:
      • Sweden
      • Current Location:
      • Sweden
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    1,044
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: linguistic theories (grammar, language)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
    the question is whether "meaning" is reducible to behaviour.
    Dawnstorm
    Correct me if I'm wrong:

    What behaviourists attempt to do as far as meaning is concerned (and as opposed to psychoanalysts), they strive to identify meaningful from meaningless statements through verification in praxis. For example, 'dragons exist' (to go back to our previous thread) is not so much false (or true for that matter, depending on context) as it is meaningless. Why? There is no way of verifying or falsifying the statement through empirical (use of the senses) means. But this very principle breaks down due to its own incohrence; it cannot be verified or falsified by empirical means either! Hence, it itself is meaningless. Freud, on the other hand, would be introspective and probably claim that the meaning of the sentence 'dragons exist' be approached based on impulses buried in an uncanny, hypothesised subconscious. This makes him (at least in the beahaviourisis' eyes, who don't even believe in the existence of a subconscious or ego as such) highly subjective.

    Although "Darwinian" in their outlook, some behaviourists (Skinner) stress the importance of subjectivity in the creation of personality theories. In a way, behaviourism has opened up to psychoanalytical ideas that once would have been anathema. It cannot explain meaning with a scientific, objective outlook only, or reduce meaning to behaviour.
    Last edited by bianca; 22-Aug-2007 at 10:22.

  3. #53
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    101
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: linguistic theories (grammar, language)

    Quote Originally Posted by bianca View Post
    they strive to identify meaningful from meaningless statements through verification in praxis. For example, 'dragons exist' (to go back to our previous thread) is not so much false (or true for that matter, depending on context) as it is meaningless.
    Clarification question: Meaningless to whom?

    I don't think (but I don't really know, as behaviourism isn't my speciality) that behaviourists think a statement like "Dragons exist," is meaningless to those who utter it. Instead, they'd argue that the meaning cannot be observed; it is not empirical. The conclusion is that the utterance's meaning should not be allowed to enter into a hypothesis about, say, superstition. Instead, the statement has to be reframed as verbal behaviour (Skinner's term): What kind of stimulus triggers a statement such as, "Dragons exist."

    A behaviourist's account (simplified) might look like this:

    Person A utters, "Dragons exist."
    Person B and Person C laugh at Person A.
    Person A has a negative reaction to being laughed at.
    An association between the utterance "Dragons exist" and the experience "being laughed" at is established. Person A will avoid uttering this again (negative re-inforcement).

    The meaning of the utterance is not important. Behaviourism ignores meaning (as data). This is radically different from Psychoanalysis, where "meaning" is very important. But the difference isn't one of "meaningfulness", I feel; it's one of relevance.

    And it's not the word "dragon" that causes the difference. The meaning of the statement "apples exist" would be as irrelevant to behaviourists (even though they might explain the difference between the two utterances in terms of responsive behaviour).

    [It occurs to me that I'm not sure about the difference between "meaningless" and "irrelevant". Does a statement have to be meaningful to be irrelevant? I think so; how else would you judge its relevance?]

    There are so many attitudes towards meaning:

    Psychoanalysis' symbolism.
    Structuralism's relational grid.
    Max Weber's "ideal types".
    ...

    Behaviourism defies them all, by ignoring meaning as un-empirical.

    The one thing I can tell from that is that "meaning" is problematic in science, where intuition can be used to construct the subject matter.

    How popular is behaviourism in linguistics? I suppose you could describe phonemes in purely behaviourist terms (which may be the source of confusion about earlier statements of mine). But Syntax? Semantics? Hm...

  4. #54
    bianca is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • Swedish
      • Home Country:
      • Sweden
      • Current Location:
      • Sweden
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    1,044
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: linguistic theories (grammar, language)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
    1. Clarification question: Meaningless to whom?

    2. I don't think (but I don't really know, as behaviourism isn't my speciality) that behaviourists think a statement like "Dragons exist," is meaningless to those who utter it. Instead, they'd argue that the meaning cannot be observed; it is not empirical.
    1. Meaningless to them (b.), or to those who endorse behaviouristic theories. I know that you're thinking about a specific context, but this would be another (positivistic) approach. Behaviouristic approaches work with meaning, rather than with popularly true or false statements. It can be true in a mythical context, but meaningless anyway unless proved in praxis per se (in terms of conditioned associations).

    2. Isn't this what I meant, as well? According to behaviourists, for a statement to have meaning it must be observed, or be either verified or falsified by empirical means. So, in this respect, to behaviourists, the statement "dragons exists" is neither true nor false, but meaningless. But to psychoanalysts this statement's meaningfulness or meaninglessness resides not in its being observable empirically, but introspectively via the works of the sub/conscious.

    Must there be an objective approach to subjectivity as the ultimate answer to meaning? Don't they (B. and P., structuralists and functionalists, and so on) approach meaning from different positions and complete each other, rather than being mutually excluding? Have behaviourists managed to explain memory as a scientific construct?

    (Am I, by any chance, wandering away from the topic of this thread? )
    Last edited by bianca; 22-Aug-2007 at 13:35.

  5. #55
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    101
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: linguistic theories (grammar, language)

    Quote Originally Posted by bianca View Post
    1. Meaningless to them (b.), or to those who endorse behaviouristic theories. I know that you're thinking about a specific context, but this would be another (positivistic) approach. Behaviouristic approaches work with meaning, rather than with popularly true or false statements. It can be true in a mythical context, but meaningless anyway unless proved in praxis per se (in terms of conditioned associations).

    2. Isn't this what I meant, as well? According to behaviourists, for a statement to have meaning it must be observed, or be either verified or falsified by empirical means. So, in this respect, to behaviourists, the statement "dragons exists" is neither true nor false, but meaningless. But to psychoanalysts this statement's meaningfulness or meaninglessness resides not in its being observable empirically, but introspectively via the works of the sub/conscious.
    Thanks for the clarification.

    Must there be an objective approach to subjectivity as the ultimate answer to meaning? Don't they (B. and P., structuralists and functionalists, and so on) approach meaning from different positions and complete each other, rather than being mutually excluding? Have behaviourists managed to explain memory as a scientific construct?
    That would be nice, in theory. In practice, people quarrel, er, debate.

    I don't know what behaviourists make as memory. Perhaps they just assume it? (To become conditioned in the first place, Pawlow's Dog must remember the bell, doesn't it?)

    (Am I, by any chance, wandering away from the topic of this thread? )
    Heh, if so you're not alone.

  6. #56
    bianca is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • Swedish
      • Home Country:
      • Sweden
      • Current Location:
      • Sweden
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    1,044
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: linguistic theories (grammar, language)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post

    To become conditioned in the first place, Pawlow's Dog must remember the bell, doesn't it?
    If it did, it would go drewling about, waiting impatiently for the bell to ring.
    Dogs are always hungry, aren't they?
    Last edited by bianca; 23-Aug-2007 at 19:19.

  7. #57
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    101
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: linguistic theories (grammar, language)

    Quote Originally Posted by bianca View Post
    If it did, it would go drewling about, impatiently waiting for the bell to ring.
    Dogs are always hungry, aren't they?
    Interesting. There's a difference in there I didn't think about:

    1. Remembering as spontaneous access of memory.
    2. Remembering as an integral aspect of recognition.

    What is memory, in behaviouristic terms. I might research that once I have the time.

  8. #58
    bianca is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • Swedish
      • Home Country:
      • Sweden
      • Current Location:
      • Sweden
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    1,044
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: linguistic theories (grammar, language)

    Memory? Remembering? Much can be said about it. Man needs his memory like bread in order to know himself; on the other hand, he must every now and then abandon it and venture into the imponderable.

    Let me daresay that memory is much more complex a mind faculty than the behaviouristic association of stimulus-response. It cannot undergo precise evaluation and be made a scientific construct.

    A while ago I read a book about modern psychotherapy, and a patient - under hypnosis - was made to talk about anything she remembered about what had happened in her past. Hypnosys can't lie, can it? She talked about having been raped, among other things. Upon closer inspection, this was proved to be untrue. Normal people can remember things which never happened, but which they deem to be real. They are somehow, on some level in their minds, convincing themselves of the authenticity of these so-called memories. For a writer of fiction, freedom is about making up stories. Dreams process memories and make up stories. Do we only dream by night?

    Let's assume that the human brain works metaphorically. The memory of being raped is then a symbol for something else, a form of psychological release which has its own rewarding system for the individual. (You know what Freud said, 'the dream of every woman is that of being raped'. I wonder what kind of reward system that one has...). Memory (the long-term, implicit one) is not only selective, but also illusional, i.e. it has no truth value as long as the 'truth' is damaging to the psyche. It is made up of 'clever' associations of facts, sensations, images - the mind's attempt at self-preservation.

    Short-term memory can also be selective, can't it? What if the dog gets both food and thrashing, when the bell rings (let's overlook the fact that the dog might get crazy from receiving mixed signals). The natural instinct (hunger) will most likely take over and forget about thrashing, but once the dog is fed up and hears the bell ring, I am sure this time it will "select" to remember the thrashing in an attempt at self-defence. So, don't ring the bell whenever you face a dog and believe it will start drewling and expect you to give him food - you never know about the dog's frame of mind. It might lash out at you in self-defence...

    Human thought is based on memories, but language is itself thought (or, the 'straitjacket' of thought). Hence, the logical phallacies inherent in language, or the ambiguous character of language, might cause some of the trouble in defining memory scientifically.

    Dawnstorm, these are just ideas off the top of my head. But I rely on you to help me make sense of them. Meanwhile, here's a 'nice' smile from me: ---bianca
    (I think I'll have to start a new thread).
    Last edited by bianca; 27-Aug-2007 at 20:31.

Page 6 of 6 FirstFirst ... 2 3 4 5 6

Similar Threads

  1. Is there a grammar of spoken English?
    By M56 in forum General Language Discussions
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: 09-Feb-2009, 00:58
  2. The English language and its varieties
    By italianbrother in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 22-Feb-2007, 12:34
  3. help help help need to summary
    By loya2001 in forum Editing & Writing Topics
    Replies: 16
    Last Post: 22-Dec-2006, 05:33
  4. Seminar
    By mallikatweety in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 30-Jun-2006, 11:07
  5. Linguistic Predictions
    By Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim in forum Linguistics
    Replies: 24
    Last Post: 05-Sep-2005, 11:42

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •