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  1. #11
    GoesStation is offline Moderator
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    Re: the thinker vs a thinker

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    I am not a teacher.

  2. #12
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    Re: the thinker vs a thinker

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
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    Funnily enough, that's both a thinker and The Thinker!

  3. #13
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: the thinker vs a thinker

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    But now I'm not sure what you mean by a 'specific person'. Could you make that clear? Because I suspect this may be where we're thinking about different things.
    It seems so.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    When I say 'a specific person', I mean 'somebody who is being specified'. So in the poker example, the dealer is a specific person, the players are specific people, the table is a specific table, etc.
    In what sense is the dealer specific? Are you talking about a particular game? Do you have a particular person in mind? To my ear, it's a general statement (the poker example) describing any poker game. And it is its roles that are specific and unique. Of course each role/party in a game is performed by a person(s), but that doesn't make them specific in a general statement.

    So, I thought the thinker could be used in the role sense as it's the case with the dealer.
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  4. #14
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    Re: the thinker vs a thinker

    Okay, good, it seems we've identified a major area of misunderstanding—we're not using the word specific in the same way. I think this is a very useful discovery.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    In what sense is the dealer specific?
    Another way to say this is to say that the dealer is being referred to. I often phrase it such that the dealer is being made reference to. Would it be clearer if instead I used either 'specified' or 'identified' when I'm using this sense?

    Are you talking about a particular game? Do you have a particular person in mind?
    No, absolutely not. I think that perhaps that's what you were thinking, right? No, I don't mean a particular person in the sense of a real individual person. As you put it, it's just a role that could be taken by a real individual person. My poker scenario is only hypothetical. It exists as an abstraction—a generalised concept.

    To my ear, it's a general statement (the poker example) describing any poker game.
    Yes.

    And it is its roles that are specific and unique.
    Are you using the words specific and unique as synonyms there, then? When you say 'specific', do you just mean 'unique'?

    Of course each role/party in a game is performed by a person(s), but that doesn't make them specific in a general statement.
    I don't know what you mean. I hope I've managed to clear this up above.

    So, I thought the thinker could be used in the role sense as it's the case with the dealer.
    Yes, we agree on this. The way I put it in my previous post was that both are specific (meaning 'specified' or 'identified') in that 'the thinker' is a thinker of the mentioned thoughts and 'the dealer' is a dealer of the mentioned poker game. This 'of'-ness is what it makes it specific.

    Another way of saying this is that when we say 'the thinker', we're making reference to him in relation to the situation that has been mentioned previously in the text (that there are thoughts to be had), and when we say 'the dealer', we're making reference to him in relation to the situation that has been mentioned previously in this conversation (that there is a poker game). There being a relation is crucial to how reference works. There must be a relation in order for reference to even be possible. When the relation is clear enough from the text (whether that's a piece of writing, or a conversation, or whatever), we call it endophor, and when the relation is not clear from the text, it's called exophor. An example of exophor might be if I tell you out of the blue that I saw 'the Queen' yesterday. I hopefully wouldn't need to say which queen I mean because I hope you would assume I'm talking about the Queen of England (notice the 'of'). Yes, 'the Queen' can be seen as a role in the scenario of a country just as 'the dealer' is a role in a card game. The only difference is the kind of reference being made, i.e., exophoric/endophoric.
    Last edited by jutfrank; 18-Jan-2021 at 14:08.

  5. #15
    GoesStation is offline Moderator
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    Re: the thinker vs a thinker

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Funnily enough, that's both a thinker and The Thinker!
    I cropped my father, who was sitting and apparently thinking in a wheelchair at the base of the plinth, out of the picture
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  6. #16
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: the thinker vs a thinker

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Are you using the words specific and unique as synonyms there, then? When you say 'specific', do you just mean 'unique'?
    Yes, and that's why it's the thinker.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    'the thinker' is a thinker of the mentioned thoughts and 'the dealer' is a dealer of the mentioned poker game. This 'of'-ness is what it makes it specific.

    Another way of saying this is that when we say 'the thinker', we're making reference to him in relation to the situation that has been mentioned previously in the text (that there are thoughts to be had), and when we say 'the dealer', we're making reference to him in relation to the situation that has been mentioned previously
    That's the point of my disagreement or misunderstanding. To be clear, I understand why the third Frege's thinker takes a. What I don't understand is why you insist that the wouldn't make any sense. As I see it, the thinker and the dealer as roles can go beyond any particular situation in their referential scope and cover all possible situations where they are present as essential elements. So, despite the fact of being related to the previous mentioned thoughts, the thinker can refer to any thinker that performs this role.
    So, they (thoughts) can be true without being apprehended by the thinker would just mean that in a situation in which there is a thought, the role of a thinker doesn't need for this thought to be true. While the original variant with a means any particular thinker.
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  7. #17
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    Re: the thinker vs a thinker

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    Yes, and that's why it's the thinker.
    I see. Then I'd ask you to change that for the sake of our communication.

    That's the point of my disagreement or misunderstanding. To be clear, I understand why the third Frege's thinker takes a. What I don't understand is why you insist that the wouldn't make any sense.
    Right. And I can't understand how you could think that it does make sense. If you were to use the thinker there, which thinker would you be referring to? There's no thinker being referred to. If a thought is apprehended, then there must be a thinker to apprehend it. The point of the sentence is that a thought can be true without any thinker being there to apprehend it. Frege is not still referring to the same thinker-as-role as before but is now invoking an 'indefinite' thinker.

    It's no different from the pair:

    You can't play poker without a pack of cards.
    You can't play poker without the pack of cards.


    You obviously can't use these sentences interchangeably, can you? Only one of these can make sense in any given context.

    As I see it, the thinker and the dealer as roles can go beyond any particular situation in their referential scope and cover all possible situations where they are present as essential elements.
    Right.

    So, despite the fact of being related to the previous mentioned thoughts, the thinker can refer to any thinker that performs this role.
    Just to be certain that I understand you—do you mean the thinker as exophoric? There's always a limit to the referential scope though, right? There's always a context within which reference relations are made, isn't there? There's always a 'game' that any role has to be played in.

    So, they (thoughts) can be true without being apprehended by the thinker would just mean that in a situation in which there is a thought, the role of a thinker doesn't need for this thought to be true.
    Ah, I think I see what you mean. No, I think you're reading it wrong. It's not the truth that is not apprehended, it's the thought itself. Like I said above, if there's no apprehension, there's no thinker. Frege is saying that a thought can be true without there being any thinker at all. He's saying that thoughts can affect the thinker but the thinker cannot affect the thought, which is what makes thoughts characteristically different from natural things like physical objects.

  8. #18
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: the thinker vs a thinker

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I see. Then I'd ask you to change that for the sake of our communication.
    Sorry, change what? I thought you agreed the thinker as a role was unique and hence definite like the dealer.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    If you were to use the thinker there, which thinker would you be referring to? There's no thinker being referred to. If a thought is apprehended, then there must be a thinker to apprehend it. The point of the sentence is that a thought can be true without any thinker being there to apprehend it. Frege is not still referring to the same thinker-as-role as before but is now invoking an 'indefinite' thinker.
    Let's consider two variants:
    1) The thinker as a role. In this case, there is no such problem as there's no thinker being referred to at all because the thinker is a role (abstraction) that is always present even if there is no actual person performing it. You can think of the thinker as a slot that is 'filled in' with a performer. But even if the slot is empty, it still exists. Frege states this slot isn't needed.

    2) The thinker as a particular person. Suppose some man has the thought the Earth is round (which is true) in his mind. Now, according to Frege this thought would be true even without this thinker (= the thinker) thinking it. I see no problem with Frege's example since he uses the thinker twice before, so there is definitely someone the third thinker can refer to.

    Would that make sense to you?

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Ah, I think I see what you mean. No, I think you're reading it wrong. It's not the truth that is not apprehended, it's the thought itself.
    I'm confused because I don't understand what made you think so. It's clear that it's the thought that is not apprehended.
    Last edited by Alexey86; 18-Jan-2021 at 19:47.
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  9. #19
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    Re: the thinker vs a thinker

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    Sorry, change what? I thought you agreed the thinker as a role was unique and hence definite like the dealer.
    I meant desist from using 'specific' to mean 'unique'. I just wanted to make sure we both mean the same thing when we say something is specific.

    Let's consider two variants:
    1) The thinker as a role. In this case, there is no such problem as there's no thinker being referred to at all because the thinker is a role (abstraction) that is always present even if there is no actual person performing it. You can think of the thinker as a slot that is 'filled in' with a performer. But even if the slot is empty, it still exists. Frege states this slot isn't needed.
    Okay. Yep, I got it.

    2) The thinker as a particular person. Suppose some man has the thought the Earth is round (which is true) in his mind. Now, according to Frege this thought would be true even without this thinker (= the thinker) thinking it. I see no problem with Frege's example since he uses the thinker twice before, so there is definitely someone the third thinker can refer to.
    Okay.

    Would that make sense to you?
    Yes, I think so.

    I'm confused because I don't understand what made you think so. It's clear that it's the thought that is not apprehended.
    Oh sorry, I misunderstood.

    Have we got anywhere in this thread yet? Or are things just as confusing and unexplained as before? If you're still wondering why Frege (or rather his translator) couldn't have used the instead of a, then I'm going to maintain that that wouldn't be right. However, I do think your justifications for using the instead of a do make some sense now that you've explained your thinking to me, but that's not the way a native speaker would be thinking.

  10. #20
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: the thinker vs a thinker

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I meant desist from using 'specific' to mean 'unique'. I just wanted to make sure we both mean the same thing when we say something is specific.
    Now it's clear, thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Have we got anywhere in this thread yet? Or are things just as confusing and unexplained as before?
    What do you think about GS's reply in #6: The author could have used the definite article, but would have lost the transition from discussing a specific thinker to discussing the general case of any thinker.

    It seems GS thinks both variants make sense.

    And as a side note, I'd like to notice that reference issues are more or less universal. Although Russian doesn't have articles, if somebody told me I saw cat. Cat was black, I would easily discern the indefiniteness of the first cat and the definiteness of the second one and understand that the second cat was referring to the first one. When I translate Frege's sentences into Russian, I clearly see three referential possibilities with regard to the third thinker: a) an aforementioned person (anaphorically definite) b) a unique role (inherently definite -> its definiteness doesn't depend on a particular situation -> can be used in a general context), c) any person (indefinite/general). And it's surprising to me that only the last one makes sense to you. By default, I would choose a).
    Last edited by Alexey86; 18-Jan-2021 at 21:39.
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