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CLASSICS-L  February 2006, Week 1

CLASSICS-L February 2006, Week 1

Subject:

Re: Fusc-budget (was: Meaning and obfuscation)

From:

"James M. Pfundstein" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Classical Greek and Latin Discussion Group <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 7 Feb 2006 10:20:37 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (88 lines)

On Feb 7, 2006, at 9:19 AM, Hunsucker, R.L. wrote:

> If one accepts that meaning and understanding in human  
> communication need not = exact meaning and understanding for that  
> communication to work in practice. Transfer of meaning is at best  
> approximate

but earlier:

> meaning can not *arrive* at all, since it can't travel between two  
> minds.

These two statements do not appear to agree.

RLH:

> can **you** render plausibly true the proposition that identical  
> perception _can and in fact does_ exist in two different  
> individuals ??

Identity itself is a perception and reasonable people can differ  
about it. Things that are different in some ways may be alike enough  
to be considered the same by an observer (the person doing the  
agreeing).
_____

Becky: "I hated that movie."

Binky: "I agree."

[Becky may hate "Brokeback Mountain" for different reasons than Binky  
does, but if their judgement on it is strong enough to be described  
by both as hate, it's the same for practical purposes. They won't buy  
the DVD.]
_____

Becky: "I think Joan Rivers has had too much plastic surgery."

Binky: "I agree."

[Every reasonable person feels this way, so perhaps no more needs to  
be said.]

_____

Becky: "I think we have enough money in the bank account to pay for  
Junior's clarinet lessons this month."

Binky: "I agree."

[Here the pragmatic issue is even clearer. Binky's agreement is  
performative speech; if Becky went ahead and wrote a check to the  
clarinet teacher, Binky would have no grounds for complaint.]

_____

Becky: "On the other hand, they don't seem to be doing much good, are  
they? His playing sounds like a live cat being forced through a meat  
grinder."

Binky: "I agree."

[Maybe this particular description hadn't occurred to Binky before,  
but he can seize on it as an expression of his own feelings.]

_____

Becky: "It's nice that we agree so much, isn't it?"

Binky: "No."

Becky: "You know what? I agree with you."

[Binky shoots self.]

_____

Here, of course, Binky and Becky do not agree, with tragic  
consequences. In fact, we may detect a sullen undertone in Binky's  
previous responses. Becky didn't understand what Binky was  
inarticulately trying to signal to her: that he was suffocating in  
the marriage, that he knew about her affair with Junior's clarinet  
teacher, that he longed for his old life as a cowboy and unlicensed  
plastic surgeon. But the fact that sometimes meaning is lost or  
distorted in transit does not mean that transfer of meaning never  
occurs.

JMP("Précieux ridicule")

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