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?

Picked from: Conversations with History - John Perry on YouTube. (Link button does not work)


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"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 never claimed that anything was a debate.  I asked for a reference to the debate that you mentioned.  This is a reference that you refuse to provide, so I am seeking elsewhere.  All clear?

" 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.

I read about Fregel's issue from different sources, but I didn't want to reference them because they relied on translations to English.  I can't vouch for their veracity.  I only glossed the wikipedia entry to see if it contained the gist of what was relevant; it was the most expedient link so that you could have a general reference and decide where to go from there.  I just assumed that the limited reliability of wikipedia would be understood.  I thought you might want to look up Fregel's words directly in a different language, possibly the original German (I don't know what your language preferences are).  Notice how I referred to it as a 'launch point'?  I was never suggesting that wikipedia should have been a principle reference, and I think it fairly implies that I wasn't using it that way myself.  


I never claimed to have read all of the wikipedia entry. I didn't even imply it.  I'm not personally interested in Betrand Russel's commentary.  Why are you taking this side track?  I have no difficulty admitting that I'm stubborn and will bite easily.


"There is no standard translation which fully explains the words. And philosophy is all about getting the meaning of words right."


Yes, I'm already well aware of the troubles with translating 'Sinn' and 'Bedeutung'.  I never once asked you about this.  I have been very clear.  I am asking what the 'können/ denken debate' refers to.  Only that.  That only.  Of all questions in all the universe that may be asked, this is the only question I am asking.  Just.  This.  One.  


"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."


I never said that the debate doesn't exist.  I've never implied it either.  I asked you for a reference to it so that I can explore the issue myself.  Why can't you get that through your skull?


As for direct translations, I am being directly literal with the words here in their common, typical meanings.  For instance, "Können Tiere denken?" being translated into "Are animals able to think?"  There is zero loss in meaning in that translation -- I even preserved the infinitives.  There is no unique, untranslatable meaning in the German version.  Unless I am mistaken, that is a very typical way to use those words.  You've given me no other context by which to frame these words aside from an utterly meaningless statement that it's with regard to philosophy.  So what?  The ability of animals to think is also partially a matter of philosophy.  Which philosophy are you talking about?  What resource will define or display 'können' und 'denken' in their uniquely German philosophical context?  Again, I don't care if it's in German.  I will navigate my own way around that hurdle.


I am more than open to the possibility of other uses for the words such as atypical overtones, alternate definitions, specific contexts etc., but by and large the words will be rightly translated at 'can' (inf. to be able) and 'to think'.  You won't even clarify is there is a specific context in which these words, other wise translatable, should not be taken at their literal meanings.  


The statement I initially quoted is ambiguous and even grammatically incorrect to the point that it confounds meaning.  For reference:


" Btw, it's reminds me about the whole können/denken debate which don't have good immediate translations into English."


You are abusing the idiom 'by the way'.  I assume that "it's" was a typo.  The biggest issue is that you have a subject-verb disagreement that makes it very difficult to clearly understand your specific meaning.  Which part doesn't have good immediate translations?  The words?  The debate?  What is the debate about?  A point of philosophy described as 'können/denken"?  The relationship of those words on a semantic level?  Abstract concepts attributed to those words?  The ability of the words to be translated?  What?  


'By the way' means that you are imparting further information, but functionally you have not done this and refuse to do this. If you say 'btw', I expect what follows to be more than trivial. Instead, you keep jumping to topics completely irrelevant to my inquiry.  The fact that you are reminded of something that is functionally useless to me is trivial.


Btw, this whole exchange reminds me of something I won't clarify for you and refuse to even frame in a way that makes it in any way meaningful or relevant to this discourse.

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

> 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.

Yeah, this is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, so I guess I can get a bit too "ranty" over it.
I said I would have chosen Bertrand Russel as a better example because he was a much more important figure in history. Descartes did some great things in mathematics, but his main claim to fame is as the loonie who tried to prove God.

The "astronomers" who pointed up at the sky were doing something pointless, they were doing astrology. Astronomy is a *very* new science.

But no, I'm not missing the point of philosophy, I am saying that since it is not based in reality, it is utterly devoid of meaning. There is relevant philosophy done today, it is called theoretical physics. But they are striving towards finding ways of determining what is actually true. To a philosopher that must seem a hideous waste of time. So much more fun then, to just argue about something in a vacuum, why bother actually testing things.

And no, you don't get to claim early day scientists as your own just because they didn't have a separate term to describe what they were doing. They cared about how nature worked, not just about wasting oxygen. I fundamentally disagree that they saw something useful in philosophy. They merely hadn't thought of a new name for themselves yet. Their idea of philosophy is much like theoretical physics is today: what could it be and how can we test it. Not merely "what could it be and how can I argue for it"

"Astronomy is a *very* new science."

The field of Archaeoastronomy and Stonehenge disagrees:


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