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Word And Object Quine.pdf


A linguist desiring to translate Jungle has to set up his translation manual based only on the events happening around him/her, the stimulations, combined with the verbal and non-verbal behaviour of Jungle natives.[7] The linguist can thus only use empirical information, therefore, radical translation will tell us which part of our language can be accounted for by stimulus conditions. In the experiment, Quine assumes that functional Jungle equivalents of 'Yes' and 'No' are relatively easy to be found. This allows the linguist to actively query the utterances of the natives, by repeating words (s)he has heard the native utter, and to subsequently record the native's reaction of assent or dissent.




Word And Object Quine.pdf



In Chapter 2 of Word and Object, Quine shows that the total apparatus of grammatical and semantic devices in a language is not objectively translatable into foreign languages. Therefore, in Chapter 3, he proposes to investigate a language's devices relative to each other. For this, he first describes a child's process of acquiring reference, by showing the order in which children learn grammatical devices. In Chapter 4 he then turns away from language acquisition, to investigate the vagaries of reference in a particular language (English). In Chapter 5, Quine proposes a system for regimentation, which should help us understand how reference in language works and should clarify our conceptual scheme. He calls this system the canonical notation; it is a system with which we can investigate the grammatical and semantic devices of English by paraphrase.


In Chapter 4 of Word and Object, Quine looks at the indeterminacies of reference that are inherent to the (English) language system. A term is vague if the boundaries of its reference are not clear. For a singular term this means that the boundaries of the object it refers to are not clear, e.g. with the 'mountain': for two neighboring mountains it is not clear where the first mountain stops and the second one begins. General terms can be vague in this same way, but also in yet another way, namely that there are some objects of which it is not clear whether or not they should be included in the reference of the term. For example, the term 'blue' is vague insofar as it is not clear whether or not some objects are blue or green. A second vagary of reference is ambiguity. Ambiguity differs from vagueness in that for a vague term the (boundaries of) its reference are unsettled, whereas ambiguous terms do refer to clearly to objects, however they are clearly true and clearly false of the same objects. For example, the term 'light' is clearly true of a dark feather, but at the same time clearly false of it.


Quine also introduces the term 'referential transparency'. Quine wants to make explicit the ambiguities in language, and to show different interpretations of sentences, therefore, he has to know where the terms in a sentence refer to. A term is used in purely referential position if its only purpose is to specify its object so that the rest of the sentence can say something about it. If a term is used in purely referential position, it is subject to the substitutivity of identity: the term can be substituted by a coextensive term (a term true of the same objects) without changing the truth-value of the sentence. In the sentence, 'Amsterdam rhymes with Peter Pan' you cannot substitute 'Amsterdam' with 'the capital of the Netherlands'. A construction, a way in which a singular term or a sentence is included in another singular term or sentence, has referential transparency: it is either referentially transparent or referentially opaque. A construction is referentially transparent if it is the case that if an occurrence of a term is purely referential in a sentence then it is purely referential also in the containing sentence. However, Quine's goal is to make clear which positions in a sentence are referentially transparent, not to make them all transparent.


In Chapter 5 of Word and Object Quine proposes a system of regimentation: the paraphrasing of sentences into a 'canonical notation', that we can use to understand how reference works in a language. Since we use language for science, the reductions that we make in the complexity of the structure of sentences will also simplify the conceptual schema of science. In the canonical notation, a sentence S is paraphrased as S'. S' is a paraphrase of S that should clarify its reference, which means that it often resolves ambiguities, and is therefore by definition not synonymous with S. However, S' should express the intended meaning of the speaker. Therefore, it should always be the original speaker who does the paraphrasing. The canonical notation consists of: atomic sentences (sentences that do not have sentences as a part) that have a general term in the predicate position, with one or more variables: 'Fa' or 'Fab,' etc. Non-atomic sentences are built from atomic sentences by using truth functions, quantifiers, and some other devices, like the four variable-binding operators. Quine drops tense, and instead uses the present as temporally neutral. We can express time with the use of 'a at t', where x is a spatiotemporal object. In his canonical notation, Quine has eliminated all singular terms other than variables. This greatly simplifies his logical theory, in the sense that there is economy in the roots of the theory: there is a very limited number of elements. In some situations, however, short paraphrases are very useful, for example in mathematic deductions. For these cases, Quine introduces definitions: we can define singular terms relative to the canonical notation. In that way, we can still use singular terms, without having to include them in our theory.


Willard Van Orman Quine begins this influential work by declaring, "Language is a social art. In acquiring it we have to depend entirely on intersubjectively available cues as to what to say and when." As Patricia Smith Churchland notes in her foreword to this new edition, with Word and Object Quine challenged the tradition of conceptual analysis as a way of advancing knowledge. The book signaled twentieth-century philosophy's turn away from metaphysics and what Churchland calls the "phony precision" of conceptual analysis.


In the course of his discussion of meaning and the linguistic mechanisms of objective reference, Quine considers the indeterminacy of translation, brings to light t