Thursday, February 15, 2018

Shedding Light in the Darkness

I would like to comment on this post:

It a dialogue between two social media users, an atheist and a Christian, that concerns the truth of Christianity based on a would-be miracle. If the atheist's sister would be miraculously cured of her MS, then that would be sufficient evidence for him to believe. She has experienced this disease over the course of years and has deteriorated as a result. That is evident to the atheist's eyes.

The Christian then offers a couple of examples of miraculous cures of fatal diseases, which then the atheist offers counter explanations of how the cases could be explained without a miraculous explanation. Perhaps the examples themselves are suspect or the patients have been misdiagnosed. He offers alternative explanations in the face of narratives outside of his common experience.

This response I am offering does not criticize the way either party has represented their beliefs about miracles. But this dialogue reminds me how what we are familiar with becomes the way to interpret analogous cases typically outside of our experience. Because we have not failed to understand, but rather have not taken the time to absorb what a source says, we react weakly when confronted. 

So beyond apologetics, there is the idea that this story of the atheist's sister who has this disease can serve as an excuse for unbelief. This idea is not brought up in the dialogue but perhaps that is in the background. Or perhaps one has seen for himself the miraculous cure of a family member and that gives that person enough evidence to believe. Again one's experience can shape your beliefs.

Based on one's perceived grievance or gratitude, you respond in offence or beneficence. Albeit this is a theistic viewpoint, what is the alternative? One sees the facts as they are and the other just is blind? Given the atheist is correct, what explains theistic belief? I guess they don't have to justify it because it is outside of their narrow viewpoint. I have my atheism, so whatever you believe does not matter.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Four of a Kind

There were a few animals that met in a man-made house. The snake, the rabbit, the ox, and the monkey talked about the impact of the natural disaster. The snake said that he would prevent another disaster like the first. The rabbit suggested that she might be a victim if another one happened. The ox saw that there was no way that another one will happen. And the monkey agreed with the alert ox. 

The rabbit was then upset with the monkey because he was abrupt. The rabbit began to shed her fur, which fell in clumps and made the rabbit worry even more. She made comments about her shedding and the ox decided to ignore them. The rabbit turned to the ox and the snake started to slither away. The ox made irrational noises, which could be heard from the outside. They then ended the meeting.

Friday, October 6, 2017


One important question is what is worth spending your time and energy on to learn or practice. The field of subjects is large and there is only so much time to spend. One’s interest, proximity to said subjects, and compulsion to take up all could play a factor in pursuit of a given interest. Outside of said examples, a priori dreaming can only take you so far. And what if your interest changes? Even though you determined that bird watching is what you should be doing, there is a possibility of losing interest. Perhaps, your hope of identifying the birds of North America has been misplaced.

This is a question that can only be answered by each individual and no categorical imperative can be given because other worthy subjects would be passed over. So to answer for myself, but in a way to answer yours too, is to say that the most important thing to focus on is whatever is present. Whatever that is close at hand should be given due consideration rather than things out of reach. What is present is the interest that determines the conditions on how something should be pursued.  Going back, the example of bird watching was dismissed because the interest was lost. So it determined the subject.

But the further question is what determines the interest. Your interest can be examined and asked if it is in the right place. Maybe there is something better? This further exam requires the use of asking what is proximate to fully see if the interest is valid or worthy.  Falling back on what you know, your past experience, and what materials and resources at hand will all help in solidifying your interest. Another further question, however, is if there is an oversubject that determines the shape of how one bethinks of interest. This consideration is different and could stop the above ambivalent approach.

This oversubject, or rather theory of how interest should be practiced, is subject to the same laws that regular interest is subject to. Your ambivalence must be acknowledged although it is easy to use the ideal format of an immutable interest. The only absolute is change becomes a code for those who prefer the idea of interest without looking beyond that. So saying that nothing is fixed is not to be content with the pronouncement because it can only describe. This exercise is to show the need for more than what prethinking can get you which is the realization to remove any false ideas of interest. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


There is a need to show whether a particular statement applies to anything particular, at least potentially, something already covered by the media. This statement is conceived like this but it could take different forms. Perhaps a whole series of statements needs to conform to this standard.

If you take, This cow is dead. There is the need to see which dead cow it applies to. But, pragmatically, if the recipients are familiar with the dead cow, there would be no need to say this. So there is this division between a statement where the referent is not understood and where the audience is all too familiar with the statement that stating it would be superfluous. This is the problem of how statements relate to an audience or recipient.

So the meaning of statement can be different and depending on differing audiences, dependent on the recipient. The author of such statements might not have access to the recipient. The author might not know how the recipients form their interpretations. There are issues of linguistic distance or political affiliation which could also color meanings.

But we could stipulate a standard state of communication where all parties are on the same page. All are fully knowledgeable about about what the words mean and are willing to understand what is being communicated. Many statements about groups of people such as ethnic groups or gender are more easily grasped than the original example of the dead cow.

So this is not an issue of how the language is being used. This is not a problem where no communication is possible because the dead cow cannot be identified. It can but it can been done without someone else pointing it out. It is also different than saying, All dead cows are dead. Aside from it being tautologous, it is discovered differently from the original.

Let's use another example, I have skill in cooking. I put it like this to show how it is discovered or interpreted. Perhaps this example relies more on the speaker showing what he means than when he says, the cow is dead. Pragmatically, the statement about being able to cook requires less work than the one with the cow because you only need to look at the speaker to identify who the good cook is. The same could be said if, you are are good cook, was used instead.

So for the issue of identifying the subject being dependent on the audience has the issue of allowing them to find out what it is. However, given that some cow is dead, the important thing is that what is being predicated about the cow is what is primarily being asserted. I have cooking skill, says that skill in cooking is apart of me. This does not go beyond the meaning of what was said.

The issue about the audience comes when we would like to find about the subject in relation to some other consideration like where and when. Let's say this situation already has the standard ideal where everyone has access to this but the statement remains alone. Is this still a problem if everything else is known about it? There is an issue of relevance but beyond that how does the recipient know which background info is useful in this instance?

Say that there are 10 cows with one being dead. The dead cow needs to be recognized as such unlike a statement about you or me if we are interested beyond the fact that some dead cow is in fact dead. The identification of the subject is made beyond the statement. Naming usually bridges the gap between the name and what is being named. Betsy is dead, let us say. Is this a different statement from, This cow is dead, given our ideal conditions?

Adding this ideal condition reveals the need of providing necessary background information for some assertions. One could then further inquire what is the minimum. Then, pragmatically again, or within a local environment where 'this' and 'that' because meaningful markers, we could say that the audience understood all this.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Review of Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue

This will be a review of John McWhorter's Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue published by Gotham Books in 2008. As far as I can tell, the author is linguist who is popular in the media. In addition to linguistics, he speaks about other contemporary social issues. For a lot of these academic popularizes, once you hear them often enough, you will see some of the same issues that they repeat with a difference. These are the key issues that they feel they should get across since they are important. Some of those ideas are found in this book.

Two of those ideas, I would like to bring up here. The first is that there are certain grammatical rules that must be followed is not necessarily true. This myth runs against two other ideas, which are that no language, including English, has a perfect consistent grammar and the other is that there is a fluidity to language such that it continues to change. The other idea, briefly, is that the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is inconsistent when it is in its strong form. Both of these theses do not in a total fashion just concern English but other languages also.  

Three main points about how the English language developed concern the Celtic, Norse, and Phoenician impact on proto-Germanic. These influences changed the way the language was spoken but the influence did not directly affect the way English was written at the time. This point illustrates the difference between written and spoken language.  So these groups are responsible for the way English is used today, while the other ideas are about language in general. These five ideas correspond to the five chapters in the book.

One question to ask is, what of it? Perhaps the two points about the nature of language in general have their applications but the mutilation by non-native groups does not have an application for English speakers today. The point is not restore English to how it was in the ancient past, but to acknowledge that mistakes in usage have led to the received way of how it is used. These are aspects that are not touched on much in most histories. This book, then, serves as alternate way of assessing how English came about.