[percy-l] Post modernism

James Piat piat1 at bellsouth.net
Wed Aug 20 01:20:40 EDT 2003

Maybe I should have thought more about my last post  -- I was just starting to mull the idea over when I was startled by Marcus' post and sent it off only half developed.   One can not simultaneously fully specify both the truth and meaning of an assertion.  The more certain the meaning of a propoposition the more the we must stipulate as true to explain what is meant.  For example, what does the word "Trees"  mean?  In order to understand the meaning of any symbol we must understand something about the worId.  We can not forever define one word in terms of another word.  Sooner or later meaning requires that some words be defined in terms of their actual consequences in the non symbolic world. In other words we must know something more than just the relationships among symbols.  We must also know what is true of the world to which the symbols refer.   And the more explicit or comprehensive we wish to be about the meaning of any symbol the more about this world we must know.  Unfortunately we can not determine whether an our knowledge about the world is true unless we understand what the meaning of what is about the world we are asserting to be true.   For example, I can not determine if the assertion "trees have leaves" is true unless I know what "trees" means.  So we have come full circle and we are not yet out of the woods.  Truth and meaning are co-dependent in such a way that we can not know both simultaneously.  To know one we must assume the other.  The more we would know of one the more we must assume of the other.  What is true about a tree depends upon what one means by tree.  What one means by tree depends upon what is true about a tree.  Truth and meaning are circular  -- which is why we are forever arguing in circles about the two.  

And isn't this just what the Hiesenberg uncertainty principle teaches  -- that there is abosolute uncertainty at the core of our knowledge of every event.  Isn't that what the modern secular world has learned.  And isn't that what the post modern philosophers are trying to come to grips with.  I think that some from the religious world have mistakenly construed post modernism as a refutation of religious teachings and have over reacted.  But I say scientific truth and philosophical understanding are friends of religon and need not be feared.   
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