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

Michael J. Moore (
Thu, 03 Jul 1997 15:00:14 -0700

John Williams wrote:

> 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.
> <snip>
> 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.

So, all things that are understood are also defined. I can accept
that.Conversely we must say all things that are defined are understood.
Not necessairly by everybody but understood at least by the
person who defined it. Hmmm, seems like we've lost some
clarity here.

> 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....

Yes, that is a good story. ;-)

> 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.

I agree with you in part. Some body language is lernt and some
ispre-wired. Thumbing one's teeth is learnt but crying, smiling,
and reactions to bad tasting things are pre-wired.

> > 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?

Objects, symbols, ideas? In one way I could almost buy it if I don't
get to close. On the otherhand, books have been written trying to
define what an 'object' is, or even if there is such a thing. Same with
"idea" and "symbol".

It's all too fuzzy for me. I prefer "defined: -distinguishable as part
of a system".

All things defined participate in at least one context.