b-hebrew digest: May 31, 1999

Matthew Anstey manstey at portal.ca
Tue Jun 1 22:46:03 EDT 1999

GDay Rolf,

You wrote,

>The disagreement between me and several members of the list regarding
>Hebrew verbs primarily relates to method. I insist on a scrupulous
>distinction between "semantic meaning" and "conversational pragmatic
>implicature", and I follow the principle from the natural sciences to break
>everything down to the smallest units and then study these units. The
>approaches of others, it seems to me, is primarily built on induction. A
>difference in method often give different results.

I am curious as to which natural sciences break "everything down to the
smallest units and then study these units"? There are many areas of science
where a top-down approach is necessary. The idea that bottom-up research
provides more "certainty" should not be taken for granted. (Would we prefer
a physicist or a biologist to define human nature?). Furthermore, you
distinguish your method from "induction" as if induction were somehow less
rigorous. But on what basis do you assert this? Induction is inference from
a finite number of particular cases to a further case or to a general
conclusion. Surely your method is therefore also inductive. A deductive
method on the other hand produces a valid conclusion from premisses where
the conclusion cannot be false if the premisses are true. Now with any
language, if we take (in some sort of mathematical sense?) the textual signs
to be the premisses, there is no way to form the conclusion from these
"Everything that is form X is such that if it is X then it must mean Y"
because one has slipped in the little word "mean" in there which states more
than the premisses contain. Instead, we have a healthy does of induction and
deduction. Should not one instead use inductive methods (perhaps Bayes
Theorem?) to justify probable hypotheses for the verbal system, and use
deductive logic when using tying these hypotheses together and in general

With regards,

Matthew Anstey

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