critique


So I’m reading Tecumseh Fitch (paper here) on the Biolinguistic Enterprise.  He asserts that there are 3 extremely hard problems that stand in the way of bringing biolinguistics to the stage of real science.  Oddly, I seem to have something to say about all three, and from the way he poses the problems, I doubt we are in any danger of reaching agreement any time soon.

The 3 problems are:

  1. We don’t know how brains generate minds,
  2. We don’t know how genes control development form single cell to complex organism, and
  3. We don’t have a theory of meaning.

My brief comments on each after the break.

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This crowd do a good job of getting things confused. These are possibly worse.

Listening to Merlin Bragg on Radio 4 about relativism (http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/inourtime/inourtime_20060119.shtml).Relativism is seen as a threat, a terrible thing. It is opposed to transcendentalism which apparently insists on absolute good and evil. what baloney! My relativism is much more nuanced. For starters, it is balanced by the R-world and it doesn’t object to the belief that our P-world theories are asymptotically approaching the R-world, though it doesn’t insist on that either. Also, it is deduced, not merely implied.

Key quote, from Protagoras: “Man is the measure of all things”.

The main argument against relativism is that if it were true, there would be no point in discussion or argumentation, as there is no right answer. I can counter this easily!

Catriona saw the first few pages of the P-world-R-World sketch today (as far as Strangler Figgery), and thought it interesting. She rightly points out that this will annoy everyone. That is, I am seeking to adopt a position in a crowded marketplace, where ethicists and morality folk, trancendentalists and relativists, idealists and realists all live and have positions. This is undoubtedly correct.

She thought me unclear in my introdeuction: before launching my ontological crusade, I need a fuller introduction so people are prepared for me to meddle in their waters. I will return to this when the guts of the sketch are in place.

She felt my cursory sketch of the ‘mind-body’ problem to be far too short. Clearly, from her position, the stale view of a mental and a physical parallel universe is not as hackneyed.