Re: virus: MS Weapon

Nathaniel Hall (
Mon, 13 Oct 1997 22:15:24 -0600


Reed Konsler wrote:

>Date: Sat, 11 Oct 1997 21:39:46 -0600
>From: Nathaniel Hall <>

>Once again I'm called to battle to defend the existence of universals!

But in our native language we seem to believe that the words have some
cannonical MEANING that is held in a dictionary.  We insist that things must
be consistent.  "Good" always means and has always meant the same thing,
right?  There is a word for it in every language, therefore there must be some
essential "good" ideal that all of our words about it are poor reflections

Have you read Plato?

Directly no..(Except for his apology speech for Socrates). Summaries of Plato yes.
I do like to have terms defined. Makes a reasoned argument possible when your talking about the same things.
>Consider this:  is there any language out there that does not have a word for
>"tree"? The reason why you'd have a hard time finding such a language is
>that "tree"
>is a form which has existence independent of anyone's particular word for
>it's form

How do you know?  Your evidence is cultural.  Perhaps we have simply
found words in other languages we choose to translate as "tree".  Is
Bonzai a tree?  Is bamboo?  There are bamboo forests.  How about a
"shrubbery" (Ni!)

Because I'm the knight who says "objective"!

I don't mean to play semantic games with you.  I agree that things seem
to exist and that some of them I recognize as trees.  You have chosen
a pretty concrete word (unlike "good", "justice", "love", or "truth").
My point is not that trees don't exist, but that the word is a non-natural
(artifical, fabricated, mental) category which we superimpose on a

The tree of evolution always branches out . All the particular offshoots of a branch can be put into that branch quite naturally. I personally don't know enough about botany to tell you the common ancestor of trees but I say anything with direct lineage to  that ancestor   would be a "tree". The category would then be based on something natural and definable.
"Tree" is a map which is suitable for some uses and not others.
Not if one uses the definition above. (My thanks to Dawkins here : it's his idea really. I got it from his book "the blind watchmaker")

There is *something" there.  At least, it appears so.  But what we percieve
as "real" is a question of what we choose to emphasise.  Hence:  "can't
see the forest for the trees".

The emphasis can be on something reasonable. In the case of living things the branching of evolution makes for a nice place to start.

Perhaps there is existence independent of anyone's particular word for it.

Plenty of things are unknown. (and therefore independent of anyone's word for it.) What do you mean by "existence?. That which has identity works for me, discovered or not. (So no independent existence by that definition)
But is there the existence of "trees" independent of anyone's word for it?
Who makes meaning?
If the meaning is any good nature made the universal . It was simply discovered. (or still unknown)

>The word for the form makes it possible for the mind to know of the form.

That's very well put.

Thank you,The Nateman