Notes on Truth, Beauty, and Goodness -- Phil A231

William Jamison - Instructor

The Inner and the Outer

The complex: complexity is to abduction as deduction is to induction

 fractals: math and complexity


The following is from the call for papers for a conference on "Language, Culture and Mind -- Integrating perspectives and methodologies in the study of language" which will meet on 18-20 July 2004 at University of Portsmouth, England

"Human natural languages are biologically based, cognitively motivated, affectively rich, socially shared, grammatically organized symbolic systems. They provide the principal semiotic means for the complexity and diversity of human cultural life. As has long been recognized, no single discipline or methodology is sufficient to capture all the dimensions of this complex and multifaceted phenomenon, which lies at the heart of what it is to be human."

I thought the description of language was very well done.

"Beauty is the unity of meaning and configuration."

There are no definite answers to the questions posed in test 1. Why would we take a course where the questions posed do not have definite answers?  

A weekend last semester I listened to a presentation at the forum given by a judge and his daughter in law. The presentation was on abuse in Alaska. He presented statistics that showed the overwhelming number of abuse cases were the result of husbands beating their wives. His daughter in law described the abuse she suffered by her first husband and the difficulties she faced getting out of that relationship. She has for many years now been married to her husband who is a wonderful man -- not an abuser.

During the presentation it was clear to me that her use of the word "abuse" was very specific and this indicates they were using the word in a very concrete sense. They knew exactly what they meant by the word "abuse" and thought that interpretation was the "real" meaning of it as it should be interpreted by everyone -- including those individuals they considered abusers.

However, it is clear from what others have said (here I mention Elise Patkotak's article in the Anchorage Daily News) that those considered abusers by definition above do not share that definition. They might even consider their actions a sign of love and affection! Worse, this very interpretation may be shared by many of those abused as well.

How can this be? Following our understanding of the meaning of words derived from Wittgenstein we understand that the word "abuse" (or its translation into another language) may have different meanings in different language games. Those that are abusers in one language game are using a different game and mean something else by it. How are we to determine whose interpretation is "correct"?

I then brought up the issue of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict. The term "terrorist" is in just such a state of various use as was the term "abuse" in the previous example.

Answer to the question posed at the start of the lecture: taking courses that pose questions to which there are no definite answers trains us to understand such conflicts in language games and narratives.

Review the description of the stages of reflective thinking to see why this is so powerful.


An article on current mind research:

Art and Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time, and Light by Leonard Shlain


The Golden Ratio : The Story of PHI, the World's Most Astonishing Number -- by Mario Livio (Author); Paperback


This page is maintained by William S. Jamison. It was last updated August 14, 2012. All links on these pages are either to open source or public domain materials or they are marked with the appropriate copyright information. I frequently check the links I have made to other web sites but each source is responsible for their own content.