Ok, so the statement is made as part of a mission to say something intelligent about noumenon. In other words, Heidegger is trying to say something about what things are, totally independent of our perception of them. As I alluded above, I think trying to grapple with perception-independent-thingness is . . . not a good use of one's time.

Anyway, Heidegger does lots of deep thinking about this problem, and ultimately says that there is "Nothing" as the basic characteristic of objects. To me, that's a plausible response to it's turtles all the ... (read more)

Tidbit: “Semantic over-achievers”

by kpreid 1 min read1st Dec 201127 comments

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[I'd put this in an open thread, but those don’t seem to happen these days, and while this is a quote it isn't a Rationality Quote.]

You know, one of the really weird things about us human beings […] is that we have somehow created for ourselves languages that are just a bit too flexible and expressive for our brains to handle. We have managed to build languages in which arbitrarily deep nesting of negation and quantification is possible, when we ourselves have major difficulties handling the semantics of anything beyond about depth 1 or 2. That is so weird. But that's how we are: semantic over-achievers, trying to use languages that are quite a bit beyond our intellectual powers.

Geoffrey K. Pullum, Language Log, “Never fails: semantic over-achievers”, December 1, 2011

This seems like it might lead to something interesting to say about the design of minds and the usefulness of generalization/abstraction, or perhaps just a good sound bite.