If a equals a (A=A) and a equals b (A=B), how come A=A ≠ A=B. What informs A through B which A doesn't inform itself?

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As for economists, don't get me started



I'm sitting back, just nodding my head in agreement.  I don't know that I'd say that philosophy is completely useless, but mostly out of politeness.

Thanks Kris, Herr Frege is added to my "to read" list.

Even looks like Russell has taken a beating in that debate, which isn't commonplace. Btw, it's reminds me about the whole können/denken debate which don't have good immediate translations into English.

As a side note: In Norwegian it is kunne/tenke (from verbal German) and Sinnet/Betenkning. Especially interesting is Bedankung, since the most common usage of the word is when knowledge based game shows (i.e. $64k Question) contestants gets betenkningstid (concideration or thought time). Can't recall hearing such a phrase in English game shows I used to watch in my game show addicted youth. Time to concider is not exactly the same as concideration time, just as schooltime is not exactly the same as time for school. The derivational suffix '-tion' changes the meaning of the base word.

"which should hold up in most contexts."

I wouldn't say philosophical discourse would classefy as "most context". :)

It truly matters because they are non-integrated into English:

foreign word = non-integrated word from a foreign language, spelt as is, e.g. E café (from French); Sp. whisk(e)y (from English) (*the word whisky/whiskey in fact comes from the Scots or Irish Gaelic phrase "uisce beatha" which is a calque of the Latin "aqua vitae", water of life); E weltanschauung (< G Weltanschauung); It. mouse ‘computer device’ (< E mouse ‘rodent; computer device’).

The words we hear first are the words we know the best meaning of because we have seen examples for more years than the ones we learn in high school. Especially foreign language words. It's more difficult to get your point across in another language because you botch the very meanings of words, or you have no relation. There are, literally, non-translatable words that you will never understand until someone shows you to it.

And that's why words matter because they have meaning that can't be expressed through translation. If we are speaking different languages, it makes it more diffult to understand eachother. Specific words for less than though out items are easy to translate, for those that involve behavior or actions.

 it's not.

You could just take this germanophone ESL person's opinion. But I'm sure your mother has a more valid opinion than me.

"It's not about whose opinion is more valid"

Then it's not a debate, it's a casual conversation or education, of which I am interested only in being on the forums here for the former and latter.

" I asked for a reference to the debate that you mentioned."

Here's the reference I thought was quite obvious though I obfuscateded it to see if you had read what you linked. Russell, which is pretty much always dead on, was dead wrong about concepts which are very Germanic. It makes it difficult to have deep thoughts on words which you can't fully understand.

From the very Wiki article you yourself served with the approriate underlining:

The distinction between Sinn and Bedeutung (usually but not always translated sense and reference, respectively) was an innovation of the German philosopher and mathematician Gottlob Frege in his 1892 paper Über Sinn und Bedeutung (On Sense and Reference),

There is no standard translation which fully explains the words. And philosophy is all about getting the meaning of words right. Language, especially if you don't speak it well, makes that more difficult to grasp concepts which is exactly what you founded your initial counterargument on - argument from ignorance about meaning of non-literal translation of words:

"I've never heard of that as a debate. (,but) Both words have a very literal translations into English, which should hold up in most contexts."

No they don't, and just because you haven't heard about it doesn't mean I'm claiming there's a teapot out there.

The president of a university is talking to his Physics department head and asks: "why do you need so much money for equipment? Why can't you be more like the math department, they only need chalk and erasers! Or, better yet, why can't you be like the philosophy department, they only need chalk!

Stole this one from the interwebz:


An eccentric philosophy professor gave a one question  final exam after a semester dealing with a broad array of topics.

The class was already seated and ready to go when the professor picked up his chair, plopped it on his desk and wrote on the board, and said:

"Using everything we have learned this semester, prove that this chair does not exist ."

Fingers flew, erasers erased, notebooks were filled in furious fashion.
Some students wrote over 20 pages in one hour, attempting to refute the existence of the chair.

One member of the class however, was up and finished in less than a minute.

Weeks later, when the grades were posted, the rest of the group wondered how he could have gotten an "A" when he had barely written anything at all. Word soon spread when it was learned what his answer had been. His answer had consisted of only two words:

-- "What chair?"  

"If a equals a (A=A) and a equals b (A=B), how come A=A ≠ A=B. What informs A through B which A doesn't inform itself?"

Doesn't this all simply depend upon how you define "equal?"  I see no reason why, philosophically, one couldn't argue with equal validity A=A = A=B  or  A=A ≠ A=B.


Hm, it looks like the forum software won't let me reply directly, I guess the threading ran too deep. In any case, this is a response to yaiir "OK. Try this as a demonstration- http://imgur.com/mqlKD"

I don't draw a distinction between Descartes and Russel, I draw a distinction between the different kinds of thinking that went in to their various works. When they worked on mathematics, they did useful work, when they wrote on philosophy they didn't. I find it strange that you should have such trouble distinguishing between the philosopher as a "job" description and the person who happens to at times take up that task.

I draw the line at fuzzy thinking, when words are not backed by physical reality. I said earlier that I consider philosophy to be one notch above religion, in that they at least see a value in being internally consistent while religious people don't, but that is it. In everything else I consider philosophy to be as bad as religion because it is founded on the idea that you can discuss things with no backing in reality; that words can in some sense create reality. The straw that broke this camel's back for me was the ontological argument, which is so trivially misguided and wrong, yet philosophers have spent centuries discussing it and actually consider it to have valid content. If I had been a teacher in logic class, and I had had that presented to me, I would have failed the student for misunderstanding the fundamentals of logic. Yet philosophers considers it an "interesting" argument, worthy of their time.

In science today, there is no value at all in a philosopher discussing the nature of (for example) infinity, when he doesn't have a clue what the astronomers and phycicists are saying. They are the ones who are discovering the truths about the universe, not the philosophers. Philosophy is all based on the misguided notion that you can have something useful to say about life, the universe and everything without having had any training at all in the disciplines.

You read your philosophers, I'll read Hawking and his colleagues. You will find out what some philosophers think the universe is like, I will find out what science thinks the universe is like. I know which view I consider more useful

Im having no difficulty understanding what you are saying.You said "I would have chosen Bertrand Russel as a better example of a philosopher who also did useful work".  Why did you bother even saying this if you werent making a distinction between the two?  Surely you dont mean to belittle the contributions Descartes has made to the world?

You are missing the point of philosophy.  You think that philosophy is just saying 'I think therefore I am' for no reason.  What you fail to realise is that these questions highlight issues which become important when thinking of more complex problems.

Its like the schoolboy who criticises matrices because he cannot see the point or the person who criticises theoretical mathematics/physics even though they may have great purpose in the future.  Those astronomers who first looked up at the sky would have been considered as doing something pointless... but only now, thousands of years later are we starting to reach up into space.


Likewise, all these theories and philosophies which you see no point in can literally change the world and the way that you see it.  Look at Communism or Neoliberal ideology.


Im not sure what your occupation is, but people live their lives outside of the laboratory and all their interactions, behaviours and beliefs are at the end of the day founded on philosophy. 


I dont know what more I can say to make you a bit more open minded about the topic except to say that if all the great men of science throughout history have seen some importance in philosophy, then maybe it is you who cannot read. :p



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