RE: virus: RE: Hegel's Virus (was Altruism, Empathy, Etc.)

Robin Faichney (
Wed, 30 Apr 1997 10:27:00 +0100

DHR wrote:
>Robin--There appeared to be 2 instances in which you took a word used
>in its context and claimed that the word was used incorrectly, using the
>dictionary definition as your source and then backing your opinion up with
>"later work of Wittgenstein".

That is ludicrous. There is no way in which Wittgenstein could be
used to back up either these definitions or generally resorting to the
dictionary. I said I followed Wittgenstein in order to counter your
claim that I did not see meaning as context-dependent. I see the
function of dictionaries as being to give the consensus meanings
for the contexts in which the words concerned are normally used,
which is why for many words a number of alternative meanings are
given. In these particular cases there were no alternatives
presented that coincided with the usages I criticized. People do
not have to restrict themselves to the dictionary definitions, but
(a) they risk being misunderstood, and (b) if they wish others to
accept their usage it must either be innately appealing (a good
meme) or persuasively explained (supported by good memes).

>In both those instances, the content of the
>statements implied an opinion that Buddhism does not coincide with

If I was a Roman Catholic, and I said something you thought
conflicted with Objectivism, would you say what I said "implied an
opinion that Roman Catholicism does not coincide with objective
reality"? I guess you would. Objectivism doesn't seem to do
much for your thinking skills, does it?

>Wittgenstein would not agree that these words were used out of context,
>especially with understanding error correction mechanisms.

This looks like pure bullshit. I can't make any other comment on
it until you explain (a) why you think W would take that position,
and (b) exactly how it is supported by an understanding of error
correction mechanisms. (And if you think the existence of the
latter means we can use words without regard for their
consensual meanings, that's pure bullshit.)