Re: virus: Belief and Knowledge (was: The truth about faith)

John Williams (
Thu, 03 Jul 1997 15:07:22 +0000

Michael J. Moore wrote:

> Are you saying that because the same body language can be
> interpreted differently by different people that it is "defined"?...
> How about a baby's cry, is that defined? I think we will find
> that everybody interprets it the same way....There
> is a lot we can communicate without definitions just because
> we are pre-wired that way.


I'm saying that body-language has meaning, and that similar body
language can be understood differently by different cultures. If we
identify and categorize the meanings behind body-language, we have
"defined" what those mean. So yes, crying is "defined." We can come up
with some meaning for it. Just because "most people" understand it the
same way does not mean that it is *not* defined -- quite the opposite.
It means it's very well defined.

More to the point, though, I was thinking of hand gestures; these
certainly have explicitly defined meanings that differ from culture to
culture. There's a good story about President Nixon in that....

However, since you bring it up, I don't believe that meaning in body
language is "pre-wired," but learned through immitation. This is why
different cultures have different body language.

> stretch the definition of what it means to be defined.
> Trouble is, stretch it too far and it becomes meaningless.

What do you think it is to "be defined?" I define "define" as : "to
create a relationship between an idea and an object or a symbol so that
the object or symbol signifies the idea." You?