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Re: [xmca] activity (was concepts)

On 21 April 2011 17:11, Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu> wrote:

> On Apr 21, 2011, at 2:17 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:
> > * The quotes you give seem to confirm for me that as a unit of an
> activity, "act" is exactly the right term for his use of "word meaning."
I would say that making a meaning is an act.   That speaking a meaning is an
act.  But that the meaning itself is the product of an act.  Likewise, I'd
say that knowing as engaging with meaning is an act.

> Hi Andy,
> LSV nowhere suggests that word meaning is an act. Word meaning, he says, is
> the "unity" of thinking and speaking, because when one uses a word (or
> words) in speaking, one is necessarily generalizing, and generalization is
> an act of thinking. That has the consequence, he argues, that by studying
> word meaning as the unit of analysis one is able to investigate the
> (dynamic, complex) relationship between speaking and thinking.
> So what is word meaning?
> LSV tells us it is the "inner form" of the word. LSV himself used the
> notion of inner form before, in the Psychology of Art, where he explained
> that a word has not two but three basic elements: its sound, or “external
> form”; its meaning or significance [does anyone have the Russian to check
> the translation here?]; and its “inner form.” This third aspect, he says, is
> to be understood as the etymological form that expresses the content. It is
> often forgotten or displaced. For example, the Russian word for "mouse" once
> signified "thief", and only by means of the inner form have the sounds
> acquired the meaning “mouse.” The inner aspect is the “image” that a word
> contains; it can be said to be the link *between* sound and meaning,

If the ascii 'art' below appears badly formatted, try looking at it in a
fixed sized font (such as courier).

Form                Process (Act)
-------                                   -----------------------

            < --
                    Make a meaning
            -- >
Inner Form
            < --
                    Make an "impression"
            -- >
            < --
                    Make a sound (speak a meaning)

> between signifier and signified. The fact that LSV could also write of the
> 'inner form' of a statue makes it clear that 'inner' here does not mean
> 'inside'- for there is nothing special inside the marble. The form is
> 'inner' in the sense that it is the 'internal' relation between material and
> idea (in the case of the statue) and between sound and meaning (in the case
> of the word). It mediates, in other words, between the *material* and the
> *ideal* aspects.
> But the term "inner form" is much older. Dilthey pointed out that Aristotle
> wrote in his Poetics of the “inner structure” of the tragedy, in an analysis
> that LSV knew well. Von Humbolt wrote of “innere Sprachform” as the way a
> language shapes both the perception and the conceptions of its speakers. (He
> seems to have been rethinking the Kantian relationship between receptivity
> (sensibility) and creativity (reason); the forms that Kant proposed are
> imposed by mind were, for Von Humbolt, provided by language.) Potebnya
> argued that words carry not only a meaning, but also the past experience of
> the individual and the nation, through which all new experience is filtered.
> Consequently a word usually has three aspects: an external form, a meaning,
> and an internal form. In many cases the internal form is rooted in myth and,
> hence, acts as a bridge between folklore and modern language. With time the
> consciousness of a word's internal form fades, and one of the tasks of
> literature is to restore this consciousness.
Nice work, Martin.  I previously interpreted Cassirer's "Mythical form"
(influenced by Humbolt) to be representationally equivalent to feeling,
which, if it holds, implies something like this:

Form                             Act
----                             ---

                    < --
                     -- >
Inner Form
                    < --
                     -- >
Vygotsky's Category?

> An alternative analysis, though, might be that there are systematic
> metaphoric substitutions in any language, such as “love is a journey.” This
> of course is Lakoff's example, and Lakoff argues that metaphor is "a
> conceptual system underlying" language, that provides an "ontological
> mapping across conceptual domains." LSV doesn’t seem to be interested in
> metaphor. To raise this point is to risk confusing our discussion, though,
> because what Lakoff calls 'conceptual' here is not what LSV considers
> conceptual. The kind of knowledge that metaphor provides through its
> mappings is what LSV considers to be word meaning.

Extrapolated from Beer, Decision and Control, page 111:

Form                   Act
-------                ----

Isomorphic Identity
                       Make a scientific comparison
                       Make a "philosophical" comparison
                       Make a poetic comparison

> This is not to say that there are no problems with LSV's account of
> word-meaning. One problem is that, if meaning is ‘in’ a word, it is not
> clear how it can differ for child and adult. It turns out that there is a
> considerable literature on this issue in the context of Frege’s distinction
> between sense [which LSV translates as 'meaning'] and reference, and it
> suggests one possible solution to the problem. Frege considered senses to be
> abstract entities, distinct both from referents, which are real objects, and
> from ‘ideas,’ which are psychological. Senses, then, occupy a “third realm”
> that is neither mental nor material. LSV did not draw such a clear
> distinction, so that ‘meaning’ for him at one moment seems something
> linguistic, at other times a matter of what someone “thinks.” According to
> most readings of Frege each sign has a single, invariant sense which all
> speakers of a language will “grasp” in the same way. But Frege acknowledged
> that people can differ in what they can “bring to mind” of a sense (I'm
> drawing here on the work of philosopher Robert May, at UC Irvine). The
> solution to the problem of framing LSV’s claims in Frege’s terms would be,
> then, to suggest that child and adult necessarily grasp the same sense in a
> word or expression (because there is only one sense to grasp), but they
> bring to consciousness different aspects of this sense.
> That's quite enough for one message, I think!
I don't know Frege and Lackoff is on my shelf unread.  Are there particular
pieces you'd recommend?


> Martin
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