To What Extent Does The Nature Of — страница 2

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those of others which in turn enables us to infer that the subjective experience of others is in many cases similar to our own. An important property of language is that it has rules governing the relationships between its’ constituent parts. Some of these rules are more rigid than others which gives the system considerable overall flexibility. For instance, there is a great difference between saying “You are not allowed to do it.? and ?You are allowed not to do it.” This is a crude example but it makes the point that the meaning of an utterance depends upon more than just the words used. In addition an utterance may be meaningful, and grammatically valid and still be nonsense, For instance the sentence; ?An Elephant is a fish in wellingtons? The meaning of the sentence is

perfectly clear and the rules of grammar have hopefully been obeyed, but the sentence itself is patently untrue. The analysis of sense and meaning is carried out using Logic, the study of argument and inference. Logical analysis of an utterance can establish the validity, or non-validity of any assertions that it makes. To use the oft- quoted example; ?All men are mortal and Socrates is a man.? One may infer from these statements that Socrates is mortal, since there is no combination of circumstances in which they could simultaneously be true and Socrates immortal. One major contribution that logic makes to the understanding of the difference between ourselves and others is that it can identify assumptions that are commonly made when speaking of others. For instance, to continue

the pain example, If one sees a person exhibiting pain behaviour one is apt to think; ? That person is in pain.? but it is impossible for one to actually know what they are feeling. To a greater or lesser degree one infers that the others’ actual experience mirrors ones’ own to the same degree that their behaviour does. In the same vein, if I see my best friend slip with a screwdriver for instance, and injure his hand, I could reasonably say that I know him to be in pain, given that long experience has not shown any great difference between his apparent response to injury and my own. However I could not make the same statement about myself with any real meaning for the simple reason that my own experience of pain transcends knowledge. In my own case it makes as much, or as

little sense to say that I doubt that I am in pain as it does to say that I know that I am. Language therefore can be said to be something of a two-edged sword when referring to an understanding of the differences between knowledge of the self and knowledge of another. One the one hand the ability to ask questions of the type; ?What do you mean by ……?? can allow some insight into the thought processes underlying the behaviour of another. On the other hand an analysis of the differences between what is actually being said when a statement is made referring to another and the same statement made referring to oneself, can show that ultimately ones’ knowledge of oneself and ones’ knowledge of others are two fundamentally different things. Knowledge of self is based on

priviliged information that, in the absence of telepathic communication, is only available to oneself. This does not mean to say that our knowledge of ourselves is either accurate or complete. Human beings are generally highly proficient at self- deception, nontheless a word, a sentence, a series of sentences can only be an approximation of the thoughts behind them, likewise when words impact upon our consciousness, they are subject to interpretation. The purpose of language is to communicate but as Huxley says; ?By its’ very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies – all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never

the experiences themselves. From family to nation every human group is a society of island universes.? REFERENCES 1) Wittgenstein. L. 1995. Philosophical Investigations. 271. 2) ibid. 384. 3) Huxley. A. 1954. The Doors of Perception. pp3-4. BIBLIOGRAPHY Hume. D. 1985. A Treatise of human nature. Penguin. Huxley. A. 1994. The Doors of Perception. Flamingo. O’Hear. A. 1985. What philosophy is. Penguin. Putnam. H. 1975. Mind Language and Reality. Cambridge University Press. Wittgenstein. L. 1995. Philosophical Investigations. Blackwell.