David Quinn wrote:The first paragraph basically boils down to: "There is a possible world where [insert some particular thing] exists." For example, there is a possible world where a purple elephant is singing Verdi's Requiem to an audience of deaf badgers. In other words, the way you frame it, Laird, the argument has nothing to do with "meaning" as such. It could apply to anything. It's just a vague statement about possibilities.
Yes, you can universalise the truth of the existence of particular objects and events using this same technique, but that's a different thing - meaning is not concrete like objects and events, it's abstract like truth, so that's why this approach leads to different results for particular meanings than for particular objects like "deaf badgers". You're thus straw-manning me when you write:
David Quinn wrote:guest_of_logic wrote:guest_of_logic: From that universalisation, it's easy to see how meaning itself (independent of the universalising truth in which it is couched) can be regarded as mind-independent, in the same way that 1+1=2 is.
David: A particular logical truth, such as 1+1=2, is true for all minds and all perspectives, whereas a particular meaning is dependant upon a particular mind and a particular perspective. As such, logical truths possess an objective quality that meanings lack.
As I've demonstrated above, though, "localised" meanings can be turned into universal logical truths. Granted, given that they refer to particulars, they are not as truly universal as such logical truths as 1+1=2, but here's where I can make good on what you just quoted me as saying - we can take the universalisation above even further, by stripping away all references to particulars (except that of a possible world), and simply write:
"There is a possible world in which there exists a meaning [insert 'localised' meaning here]".
Going the whole hog, we can arguably even strip out even reference to a possible word, and simply write:
"There exists a meaning [insert 'localised' meaning here]".
No, you can't turn a piece of speculation into a verifiable fact just like that. It is one thing to say it's possible that somewhere a purple elephant is singing Verdi's Requiem to an audience of deaf badgers (a speculation that is unverifiable), but it's quite another to assert that it must indeed be happening.
This is a straw-man because what I'm suggesting is not like asserting the necessity of the existence of a specific event or object: as I explained above, meaning is abstract like truth, not concrete like an event or object. So, what I'm actually trying through my "contortions" to get you to see is that, just as truths are true even when no one is contemplating them, so meanings "mean" even when no one is apprehending them.
David Quinn wrote:As for objectivity, I deal with that in my elaboration further below.
I think that perhaps Dennis has (and perhaps you have too) misunderstood what I mean by mind-independent. I'm not trying to argue that context, including the context of the mind in which the meaning is apprehended, is always irrelevant to the informational content of the meaning, but that much should be obvious - I'm not an idiot. Instead, by "mind-independent" I mean that:
1. meaning, consisting in information, can be seen as existing independently in the abstract, regardless of whether it is currently being apprehended by a mind, and that
2. the informational content of all meaning (that can be seen as existing in the abstract) is implicate in reality - in other words, that minds do not "create" meaning but instead "apprehend" it, just as minds do not "create" the truth that 1+1=2, but rather "apprehend" it.
Regarding your first point, the idea of "things existing independently in the abstract" has no meaning, given that the abstract world is a mental construction that depends on a mind to sustain it. Without a mind to provide the field of abstraction, there is no place for abstract things such as meaning to reside.
I know that you've written in the past words to the effect of "1+1=2 would remain true even if there was no consciousness to contemplate it's truth". I'm just suggesting that you see how this extends to meaning too: that 'an object that absorbs all wavelengths of light visible to the human eye except red' means that 'a normally functioning (i.e. non-blind-or-colour-blind) human eye will perceive that object as red in colour' even if there is no consciousness to apprehend that meaning, and even if there is no such object in existence.
David Quinn wrote:As for the second point, yes, there is a sense in which we can say that mind-constructed meanings are "implicate" in reality.
I would say, "I'm glad you see my point", except that you seem to contradict yourself here. From my perspective, a meaning cannot be both "mind-constructed" and "implicate in reality". It could be "mentally apprehended" rather than "mind-constructed" though.
David Quinn wrote:Anything that arises in reality, inwardly or outwardly, no matter how fleetingly, can be said to be implicate in reality. It still doesn't change the fact that meanings are momentary mental creations that come and go, and that reality as a whole has no overriding meaning.
1. Not all meanings are "momentary"; in fact, like truth, there is a range of types of meaning, from most specific/momentary to most universal/timeless.
2. It seems to me to be a shifting of the goalposts to bring the "overriding" meaning of reality into it. The phrase "it's empty and meaningless" seems to be used as a bludgeon in a variety contexts, not all of them concerning the "overriding" meaning of reality. In any case, let me address it: the "overriding meaning" of reality could be seen as the amalgamation of all of the meaning within it, or, alternatively, it could be seen as the most universal high-order meaning within it; I'm sure there are various other ways of defining it - the point is that it definitely need not be seen as non-existent or empty. As to what the most universal high-order meaning might be, I won't speculate, except to suggest that it would be a spiritual one.