Gregory Browne Posted August 9, 2007 Share Posted August 9, 2007 Greg Browne:>And changing the meanings of terms, using old terms to refer to new concepts or, in this case, to other old concepts, is a very bad habit of mathematicians and of non-mathematicians, as I have said before. It creates confusion and allows for unintentional and intentional deception. Mathematicians already had the terms 'postulate' and 'assumption', and so there was no need hijack 'axiom' from its existing meaning...Ho, ho, yes mathematicians "hijacked" the term "axiom" so it "allows for unintentional and intentional deception."There is nothing funny about that, but misuse of the meanings of the words can be comic (though sometimes tragicomic, when major practical decisions rest on it): for example, redefining ‘curve’ so that it applies to all lines, straight or curved, so that lines which aren’t curved come to be called “curves” .In any case, why are people having so much trouble understanding what I am saying on this point, and seeing that it is true?. It is almost common sense: we should not change the meanings of terms in the middle of an investigation or debate—unless we announce explicity beforehand that that is what we are doing, and give an explicit definition expressing the new meaning—since otherwise we would be using terms ambiguously, which is a basic logical fallacy. And further we should not even change meanings then, since it creates confusion, and leaves the door open to ambiguity.It is ironic that happens so much in discussing these topics, since the Logical Positivists, who are main defenders of the view that Peikoff’s criticizing, aimed for an improved language in which each term had only one meaning, and yet they themselves contributed to ambiguous use of terminology by creating new meanings and definitions of existing terms. Of course they usually would say that they didn’t want to add their definitions and meanings to existing ones, but rather replace existing definitions and meanings—but why should they have been allowed to do this, to give existing terms with well-established meanings new meanings? By what right to they remake the English language and other natural languages? Now some people would take a middle-of-the road position, and they that these was all right for technical language, but not for ordinary language: for example, if, say, physicists wanted a technical vocabulary, using existing terms but with special definitions for physicists, while lay people used the terms with the old meaning, that is OK. But it is not: why should physicists and lay people use the same term differently? If physicists want a new vocubalary to express new concepts, that is fine, but it should be made up of new terms (either new words or new sets of old words), not old terms with new meanings. Otherwise ambiguity will be present and the physicsts and lay people will just talk past each other, and there is too much lack of commication between scientists and lay people as it is. Better to follow Leibniz’s saying: “We should think with the wise but speak with the common people”. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Create an account or sign in to comment
You need to be a member in order to leave a comment
Create an account
Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!Register a new account
Already have an account? Sign in here.Sign In Now