Saturday, 2 January 2016

(6b. Comment Overflow) (50+)

(6b. Comment Overflow) (50+)


  1. “Or membership might be (2) a matter of degree, as with "big": Some things are more big and some things are less big. In this case the category is "continuous" (or rather, degree of membership corresponds to some point along a continuum).”

    Can anyone clarify this statement? I remember in a previous Skywriting comment Stevan made, he said that continuous properties (I believe his example was actually “big”) are not categories. But here we find the term “continuous category.” So what’s the deal, is “big” a category or not? Is “continuous category” a red herring? It seems as though “big” should be a category because even though it is contextual, it still lets us “do the right thing with the right kind of thing…”

    Also on a different topic, I’ve had trouble finding the difference between the strong and weak Whorf-Sapir hypothesis anywhere, can anyone tell me where to look to find this? I think just from intuition I have a general idea of the difference: strong being our labels determining our perceptions of things completely and weak being that these labels only have a certain amount of influence. Any elaboration, clarification or direction on this would be great.

    1. Hey, I think the article is very confusing with the use of "continuous perception" and "categorical perception" because it's framed as though "categorical perception" is the process of placing objects in discrete categories (this is just called categorization) instead of what it really is, which is the cognitive process of seeing members of the same category as more similar and members of different categories as more different. In addition, it almost seems like "categorical perception" and "continuous perception" are a dichotomy... when the actual dichotomy is discrete vs. continuous.

      so yes! I do think that continuous categories are legit and the main reason is that just as categorical perception applies to discrete categories, it too applies to continuous ones. Also, a more concrete example from class was the mentioning of dancing and the ability for somebody to dance as a kind of continuous categorization.

      For the Whorf-Sapir hypothesis, neither Whorf or Sapir actually came up with the strong/weak parts, it was Brown and Lenneberg, I think, who came up with it and it attributed to the hypothesis retroactively.

      You basically explained it,
      -strong: (native) language(s) creates specific cognitive architecture & frame your cognitive worldview;
      -weak: language has significant impact on cognitive perception- different linguistic cultures perceived them differently (similar linguistic culture = similar perception)

  2. “But Berlin & Kay (1969) showed that this was not so: Not only do most cultures and languages subdivide and name the color spectrum the same way, but even for those who don't, the regions of compression and separation are the same.”

    Kay and Maffi (2000) discuss revisions made to the Berlin and Kay (1969) model of the evolution of basic colour term systems and discuss the distinction between “encoding idioms” and “decoding idioms” identified by Makkai (1972) as they pertain to names and their meanings in a given language. Kay and Maffi write:

    “…do not fail the Berlin and Kay criterion of non-predictability of meaning. At issue is the proper understanding on (non)-predictability of meaning. Makkai makes a relevant distinction between ‘encoding idioms’ and ‘decoding idioms’. An expression that a speaker would not know how to assemble from knowledge of everything else in a language is an encoding idiom. An expression that a hearer would not be able to interpret from knowledge of everything else in a language is a decoding idiom.

    There are many encoding idioms that are not decoding idioms, that is, there are many idiomatic expressions that are interpretable on first hearing but that a speaker who knew everything about the language except that idiom would not know how to form. For example, on first hearing one of the expressions light as a feather, heavy as lead, or quick as a wink, any English speaker could probably figure out exactly what was meant, but one could not know in advance that these are conventional ways of saying "very light," "very heavy," "very quick," even knowing that English contains a pattern [A as a N] for forming expressions meaning "very A." There is no way to know in advance that one may say, for example, light as a feather, easy as pie, or easy as duck soup, but not *light as an ash, *easy as cake, or *easy as goose fritters, or that one may say one (two, ...)ata time, but not *one at the time [as in French], *one to a time, *one by the time, etc., without learning each separate fact.”

    I find this very interesting, and wonder if the general idea can extended beyond language. Could these concepts possibly be useful in identifying how to construct a T3 robot and/or rectifying the problem created in Searle’s Chinese Room?

  3. I love this paper! Because in my Philosophy of Language class, I wrote an essay on the Sorites paradox and this is exactly the same thing! The examples are of when red becomes orange, or when a bunch of sticks becomes a heap of hay. The issue I have with within-category suppression is it presupposes the category (hence we suppress what’s within it). But why are we suppressing that in particular? There must be something innate about the stuff being suppressed to make it within the category and then be suppressed.