posted on 11/10/2004
| Re: 由青的《哲学的童心》引出的CND哲学讨论，有关哥德尔
I have noticed Daniel Dennett too. The guy is definitely not a traditional philosopher. He studied neuroscience, psychology, artificial intelligence, and linguistics. He and Marvin Minsky (computational modelers of the mind :) ) are two of my favorite third culture campers.
Daniel Dennett是我很喜欢的一位当代哲学家。他写的哲学著作都通俗易懂，极善于把复杂的思想用简单有趣的方式表达出来。他的“Consciousness Explained”一书中对笛卡尔的身心二元论的反驳非常有趣，是我所读过的反驳笛卡尔的论断中写得最好的。他用一个〝笛卡尔剧院〞的比喻来揭示身心二元论的荒谬，很有说服力，也十分生动机智。另外，他写的〝Darwin’s Dangerous Idea〞，使他成为神创论者的敌人，也使他获得了哲学界以外的声誉。我也很喜欢他在与神创论者争辩中表现出的幽默与机智。离题了。关于〝mind〞的问题，还是请你这位专业人士给大家介绍介绍才好。
其实我并没说他象个儒腐呀. 他只不过就是高读近视罢了. 最后两年几乎什么也看不见了.
“哥德尔定理的证明并不是很难看懂… … … …如果想偷懒不读哥德尔的证明，不妨去读Ernest Nagel写的通俗小册子Godel's Proof”
“Godel's Proof” 是我看过的有关哥德尔的书之一. 提到他的这个理论的书很多, 记得其中一本是二十多年前就在国内广为流行的 ”Godel, Escher, Bach”(“一条永恒的金带”). 记得从那时起”怪圈”这个词很时髦了一阵子. 不管真懂假懂, 反正把什么都说成是个怪圈. 可我想知道的是哥德尔的这个理论在什么程度上可以推广到其他领域. 如果它的意义仅限于集合论,大概除数学家外没人会对它有兴趣. 但正因为集合论已经成为很多数学分支的基础, 哥德尔的理论就似乎应该在数学以外其他领域有潜在的影响(至少是implication).可我看到的书都只局限在对这个理论本身的讨论, 从来没见有人提到它超出数学以外的意义. 我们靠数学设计飞机,控制导弹, 怎么就没人担心?(多亏还有我们这种学工程的人.数学推导以外,还要做无数次试验. )
说到 “对笛卡尔的身心二元论的反驳”, 大概任何哲学思辨都不会比具体的科学实验更有说服力. Stanford有人用猴子做了个实验, 清楚地证明了对大脑视觉区局部神经细胞的物理刺激可以决定性地影响猴子的视觉判断. 在我心目中这是个划时代的实验(我也请他来单位讲过). 虽然这个现象是在感官水平, 人们应该不难把这个结果推广到更高级的思维, 甚至意识的水平. Frances Crick(对了, 就是那个DNA结构的发现者)甚至认定了意识就存在于大脑中的某个区域. 虽然也有哲学家研究自我意识, 但这些人都差不多成了小半个脑科学家(至少在表面上). 楼上有人说哲学快要死了. 其实哲学是在演变, 发展. 光靠有两千多年传统的思辨方法不够了, 有些哲学家们就开始向自然科学靠拢.
提到Daniel Dennett与神创论者的争辩,我想起罗素的 “为什么我不是基督徒”, 读起来让人感觉痛快淋漓, 荡气回肠. 爽的很. 不过话说回来, 灵魂也好, 神创也好, 都是faith. 谁要是信, 再雄辩的道理也改变不了. 不过我还是佩服罗素的勇气,在基督教文化深厚的社会里竟敢如此大声疾呼.
(现在我在网上与人以"君"相称, 上边还被人称作"阁下", 简直让我飘飘然忘乎所以, 自以为是个"高尚人士"了 )
回答你的问题, 我说的这位哲学家叫任华. 我倒不知道他在国内哲学界是否知名, 只知道他在北大做了多年教授. 前几年去世了. 敢问青君在国内是否与北大有些渊源?
还得感谢青君提起Daniel Dennett的 "Darwin's Dangerous Idea". 我又把它从书架上拿下来重新翻了翻. 其中一处很有意思, 以前没注意过, 也正好与上面的讨论有关. 哥德尔认为大脑不可能是由达尔文进化产生的. 他认为, 从随机分布的元素中形成人体(包括人脑)的概率就象空气中的元素自动分离的概率那样低. 由此哥德尔就被划分到笛卡尔灵肉二元论阵营去了. 与之相反,象Frances Crick 这样的人则坚信意识的物质基础就是大量的神经细胞(也不需要Penrose所说的什么量子引力). 人类最杰出的头脑对灵魂意识有如此截然不同观点, 观察他们的思辨实在是一件很有趣的事.
哥德尔是个数学天才，但不像罗素或von Neumann那样多才多艺。他在数学以外的见解都不是很深刻。他对大脑的进化起源的困惑说明他对进化论的了解只是在普通人的程度。他生性内向，离群索居，沉默寡言，不是一个很有趣的人。象不少天才人物，都犯有精神病一样，哥氏晚年犯有受迫害妄想症，整天疑神疑鬼有人要害他。王浩（西南联大的校友，Quine 的学生）曾是哥氏不多的朋友之一，在哥氏去世后写过一些文章纪念他。
我以前也读过一些关于哥德尔故事. 包括他晚年的怪僻. 他在普林斯顿时曾和爱因思坦比较接近,还发表过有关广义相对论的论文. 刚才查了一下狗狗. 果然, 由于他1949年发表的这篇文章, 有人把他看做是多年来闹的沸沸扬扬的时间旅行的鼻祖. 哥德尔能在数理逻辑和广义相对论这两个截然不同的领域都做出成绩, 他的脑子肯定与常人不同. 不知为什么他的脑子没象爱因斯坦的那样被保留下来供后人研究.
人类真应该为有爱因斯坦,哥德尔这类不同寻常的头脑而感到幸运. 没有Watson 和 Crick, 不出几年别人也会发现DNA结构. 但如果没有爱因斯坦和哥德尔, 他们所发现的可能到现也不为人知. 不知人类下一个划时代的发现什么时侯到来. 只希望这位发现者已经出生. 不然这辈子就赶不上了!
Metalanguage and Translation
One of the wonders of language is that it can be used to talk about itself. The language thus used is called meta-language and the language talked about is called object language. An object language may not be combined with the meta-language, such as in an article in Chinese on English, where English is the object language while Chinese is the meta-language. If the article is in English, then both the object language and the meta-language are English but still the two are separated in terms of space. Sometimes, an object language is combined with the meta-language, as in:
The statement separately printed here is false.
Obviously, the above statement says something about itself and therefore it is both meta-language and object language.
This article discusses the translation of meta-language. Before that, I would like to say a few words about the truth value of a translation.
In logic we distinguish between a sentence, a proposition and a statement. A sentence is a string of words put together according to a certain grammatical rule. "Beijing is the capital of China" and "Ah, Yellow River, you are great , like a giant standing on the Asian plain" are both sentences. A proposition is expressed by a sentence and has truth value, while not all sentences have truth values. In the second sentence here, there is no truth value but a kind of feeling. A statement is more an action than a product of articulation, namely what one says about something. In the sentence "The sun is in the Milk Way Galaxy, there is a statement about the sun. so we can say that a statement is an action, a sentence is an entity and a proposition is a kind of meaning. We express proposition with sentences to make statement about things.
Only propositions have truth value. When we say a sentence is true, we are actually talking about the proposition expressed therein.
Translation should be faithful to the original. This of course entails that a translation should preserve the truth value of the original sentence. In most cases translation is truth preserving. Not only is this truth in the translation of ordinary sentences, but also in the translation of meta sentences. For example the above sentence can be readily translated into China without changing the truth its expresses.
But sometimes a translation may change the truth value of a meta sentence. For example the sentence "The sentence you are reading now is written in English" is true only when it remains in English. If we translate it into an other language, it will not be true anymore. So we can see that some meta sentences are language-bound.
From this example we can conclude that translatability has something to do with the meta function of language. In the rest of this article I shall discuss whey some expressions can be translated and why some cannot. When talking about the translatability of meta sentences, I am actually talking about if the object sentence talked by the meta sentence can be translated or not. I shall point out that some difficulties in translation are in fact the manifestations of meta-language.
In the field of translation theory, those who noticed the relation between translatability and meta-language include Peter Newmark 91981), who discusses the translation of source language (henceforth SL) texts that bear strong linguistic features of the SL and the translation of literary games in non-literary works, such as puns, proverbs, words of multiple meanings, metaphors, etc. What he says about the translation methods of these language games is not new. What is new is that he approaches the issue from the point of meta-language. But he does not point out clearly why these should be regarded as meta-language and why they are difficult to translate and even untranslatable. We can also ask a further question: are they all difficult to translate and untranslatable?
In book on the meta function of language, the definitions and examples are both confined to the meta-language that is used to talk about the object language, for example:
Meta-language: a language that is used to describe the structure of another language; any language whose symbols refer to the symbols of another language (Mario Pei and Frank Gaynor, 1954, p135, here the English is a back translation from the Chinese)
Meta-language, rational language: the language or a set of symbols that is used to analyze and describe another language (the observed language or object languages), such as a word used to explain another word or the native language used in foreign language teaching (Hatman and Stock, 1981, p 213. The English here is a back translation from the Chinese).
Another often mentioned meta sentence is that which is both meta-language and object language, as the example I give earlier. Some figures of speech are treated as meta-languages mainly by Newmark and Jacobson, who did not argue for the necessity of such an approach.
When meta-language and object language are in one sentence, it is sometimes difficult to separate them. In the following dialogue between mother (M) and daughter (D) on grammar, there is such a question (Dialogue taken from Bolinger and Sears, 1981, p175):
M: How about this one: Boy is at the door.
D: If his name is Boy. You should---the kid is named John, see? John is at the door or A boy is at the door or He's knocking at the door.
In M's question, is fairly easy to identify meta-language and object language, but in D's explanation they get mixed up. If we translate the dialogue into Chinese literally the translation will not be understood. We have to keep the object sentences here in the original form and add some words to make it clear to the reader that they are talking about how to say some English sentences.
I would suggest we classify meta-language sentences according to the extent to which meta-language can be separated from the object language into three kinds: Conspicuous Meta Sentence (CMS), Semi-Conspicuous Meta Sentence (SCMS) and Obscure Meta Sentence (OMC).
In CMS, meta function and object function are separated in space. In most cases, there are always some marks indicating what is the object language, such as " so called, so to speak, sometimes known as, etc." (Newmark, 1981, p110) or we can used expressions such as "the sentence, the words":
1) The sentence "Bill hits John" is an SVO sentence.
2) The words azure, pleasure, measure, Asian, fusion, and a good many more have the
phoneme /z/ in the middle of a word.
In SCMS, meta-language and object language are either separated in time but not in space or in neither case:
3) a. The following sentence is false.
b. The above sentence is true.
Here (a) and (b) are both meta-language and object language, but (a) becomes an object language only after (b) is produced, which means that the meta function and the object function of (a) are separated in time while (b) is immediately a meta-language and an object language as soon as it is produced.
OMC is hidden in some expressions that do not have the form of a meta sentence but depends on the thuthfulness of a meta sentence for their effectiveness. Plays on words belong to this category. For example in "A river has two banks, therefore it is rich", the word "bank" is a pun. In this sentence there implied a meta sentence about the word: "The word ‘bank’ has two meanings". This meta sentence is a true statement.
SCMS can be turned into CMS. For example the sentence "the sentence you are reading now is false" can be turned into "The sentence ‘the sentence you are reading now is false’ is false." As to OMC, we can extract a meta sentence from it.
The nature of all kinds of word plays is the same, namely to play on words, which requires that there must be some statement about the words. Therefore, word plays fall into the category of metal-language because they imply a meta sentence.
Some word plays are purely meta functional, such as the example about the word "bank", which says nothing except stating something about the word. But not all word plays are so. Many conveys some cognitive meaning at the same time. Poetry, despite its meta-language function in its rhymes and rhythms, is not about language only but also conveys feelings and even meaningful statements about the world.
We can classify word plays into three kinds according to the cognitive content they carry. One is the kind that conveys true cognitive knowledge, another is the kind that conveys pseudo-cognitive knowledge and the last one kind does not convey any cognitive content. The first includes poems and some figures of speech in articles. The second includes such examples as the riddle about the river. To say that a river is rich is obviously absurd. The third kind includes pure word plays:
"Twas brillig and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe
All mimsy were the borogroves
And the more raths outgrabe.
Then, into what category shall I put the word play that I am going to discuss in this article? Since I am talking about translation, I have to ask a further question: Are these word plays language bound or not?
Obviously many word plays are language bound. Puns, for example, are a typical case. Puns are true only with regard to the language they belong to. In the title "Fifty Years of Scarlet Fever" (Time, June. 25, 1988), "Scarlet Fever" refers to the popularity of the novel Gone with the Wind and at the same time has some humorous effects because it also is the name of a disease. The meta statement here is "The word ‘Scarlet Fever’ has two meanings in this title." This statement is true only when the title is not translated, say, into Chinese.
Some puns depend on cultural background. Historian Susman wrote such a paragraph in his Culture as History:
In the beginning there are the words, and all kinds of words from all kinds of places...Thus the historian’s world is always a world of words: they become his primary data, from them he fashions facts.
Here the author cleverly quotes a sentence in John’s Gospel with slight change: "In the beginning there is the word". This play on the sentence implies a meta statement about the sentence that is only true in the English culture. In Chinese it would not be true, because the standard Chinese translation of the first sentence in the gospel remains standard and authoritative and cannot be changed readily: "Taichu youdao"( In the beginning there is the Tao).
Some meta-language is not language bound. An advertisement in Life goes like this: "Life would be empty without Kodak professional film." In this sentence "Life" and "empty" both have double meaning. ‘Life" refers both to the magazine and to real life and "empty" refers both to a blank space in the magazine and to the meaningless of life. In Chinese Life is translated into "shenghuo", a word meaning "life". So the pun here can readily be translated into Chinese with the same effect.
Some meta-language seems to be language bound, but actually not. The meaningless poem we cite above has been translated into Chinese by the famous linguist Yuanren Chao. By using meaningless words in Chinese, the rhetorical function of the original is well preserved.
Most words in language have reference. Only so can they be used to talk about the world. This is true for the words used in meta sentences too. Because mete sentences are used also to talk about language itself, the words in them have the function of self-reference. In language communication, the message conveyed by the self reference function and the reference function of meta sentences varies with communication situations. I have said that word plays that are language bound are not translatable. But this needs qualification. Whether they are translatable depends on the weights of self reference and reference in the conveyed message. The following are some more examples to illustrate my point:
1. The first word of this sentence has three letters.
Viewed in isolation, this sentence cannot be translated into Chinese, since after translation we get a false statement about the first word (it will be the first character in the Chinese version). But in communication, this sentence is an example of meta-language and we can create a Chinese sentence that serves the same function. The Chinese version will then read as "The first character of this sentence has five strokes."
2. In an English humor, when a US battleship visited England, the signal reads "Next to None". When it entered the port, however, it found moored beside it a small ship with the signal reading "None".
In this humor, the self reference and reference have the equal weight in the message and thus it cannot be translated into Chinese.
3. Story; history; His story! This is the heart, the unity, the crux of the bible. We may well call it the crux, for the Cross is at the center of the story. (Donald Cogan: The English Bible)
There are two word plays in this example. One is to turn the word "history" into "His story" and another is the pair of words that sound similar: "crux" and "Cross". The first word play serves to better convey the meaning of the book and therefore its self reference is less important than their reference. In translating, we just translate the reference.
In the second one, the self reference has more weight than reference. If we translate into Chinese the reference only, the translation is hard to understand. The translation would read like "We may well call it the essence, because the Cross is the center of the story." In translation, the relation between "essence" and "Cross" cannot be made clear. A better one will translate "crux" as "shizhi"(actual nature) and "Cross" as "shizijia" (a frame that looks like the Chinese character for "ten"), but the graphic effect is lost here.
From the above analysis we can see that viewed in isolation, word plays depend on whether they are language bound for their translatability. All the word plays that incorporate a meta sentence that is true only in the original language will not be translatable. Viewed dynamically and from the point of view of communication, the translatability of a word play depends on the weight of the self reference and reference of the implied meta sentence in the message of communication.
Brower, R. ed. On Translation (Cambridge: The University Press, 1959)
Bolinger, D. and D. A. Sears Aspects of Language 3rd ed (New York: Harcourt Brace Ivanovich, Inc. 1981)
Jakobson, R. "On Linguistic Aspects of Translation" in Brower ed. 1959
Newmark, P. Approaches to Translation (Oxford: Pergaman Press, 1981)
Pei Mario and Frank Gaynor A Dictionary of Lingusitics (New York: Philosophical Library, 1954)
References in Chinese omitted
posted on 11/10/2004
| Re: 由青的《哲学的童心》引出的CND哲学讨论，有关哥德尔
二是维氏自己正在从事的哲学，或者说维氏认为正当的哲学。这就有一个问题：维氏的Tractatus中许多命题也不是严格意义上的科学命题，也是属于不可言说的东西，比如他开篇的第一句〝世界是由事实构成的，而不是事物构成的〞。维氏自己意识到这种矛盾。他的辩解是：他的哲学不是一种理论，而是一种活动，一种否认哲学本身的活动。但这种辩解在他的那么多形而上学论断面前有些苍白无力。所以最后他干脆说：〝My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical, when he has used them – as steps – to climb up beyond them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.)〞。从这个意义上讲，他是个彻底的哲学虚无论者。
你要是搞脑科学研究的，咱们还真有合作的可能性！如果你能帮俺快点拿诺奖，分给你49%的奖金也可以考虑，不然等俺太老了，自己独吞那一百万也没法享受了. 俺近十年来到了四个不同的大学和研究所工作，竟然三次赶上那里的同事得诺奖，你说怪不怪？这诺奖怎么老跟着我走呢？我的有些事情比李洪志的经历还神 说正经的，俺最近与朋友合作搞成了一个对我来说非常具有戏剧性意义的课题，也是俺出主意，做些开创性的工作，再由朋友带人出力气完成的。
since you talked about "最后有人发明了人造脑, 可以用100 billion 个晶体管来模拟神经细胞和其间的联系. 通过customization,这种人造脑可以copy 你的大脑,重建你的自我意识. ", I thought the artifical parts are 'mechanical parts', not something developed from stem cells. But both should be possible, right?
Either way, suppose in the future, someone's body (except his/her brain) is entirely made up of artificial parts. Assuming DNA/genes remain the same. When he/she gives birth to a baby (semen and egg are produced by the artificial body), whose baby is it? That person's? Or the artificial body's?
If you think the baby is still that person's then, replacing one's brain with an identical copy plus the same set of memory won't change that person. The brain structure remains the same, the brain functions as before, the memory is not altered. Why would self-consciousness change?
Let me ask a dumb question. Will stem cell developed parts change a person's DNA/gene? Whose stem cell is it? If a person's DNA/gene can be changed, is that person still himself?
You don't seem to object memory enhancement. Since a person’s self-consciousness is defined by his memory, altering his memory will change his self-consciousness, right? If you don't object this kind of consciousness change why object other kinds?
To me, computer enhanced brains (which may allow us to store more things and think 10 times faster, might also change the structure of our brains, and our ways of interpreting the outside world) poses more threat to self-consciousness than an identical copy. Self-consciousness is a result of human collecting information and interpreting it. If the collection/ interpretation methods fundamentally changed, will self-consciousness preserve? We'd no longer think as human least think as ourselves.
But are these kinds of enhancements/changes bad? Maybe not. Why limit ourselves to the shells that we were born with.
the movie is "total recall".
如果策墨罗-弗兰克尔公理系统真是不一致的，那又怎么办？All is not lost. 至少我们可以回到直觉主义流派的立场上，抛弃所有可能引起矛盾的概念，比如所有涉及无穷集合和无穷步骤的运算，只承认直接构造出来的结果。这样的话，连哥德尔定理的证明过程可能都是不成立的，自然也就没有了由此带来的那些麻烦。数学研究可能因此倒退数百年，但这也可能正是上帝的意志。随着现代科学的发展，人类越来越自负，常常想play God，造成越来越多的问题，返朴归真也许是件好事情。
多谢了! 关于 哥德尔理论在数学以外的影响. 我在这条线上问了两次都没人正面回答. 现在你终于让我有了一个答案. 哥德尔只证明了既对又错的命题可能存在, 但谁也没见过. 结果让我这种死心眼子的人瞎操心. 听了金刚的话俺就放心了. 反正俺是学工程的, 写个program 在不同情况下多run几遍不出错就得. 谁还操心证明它的"正确性".
金刚提到的"人类越来越自负，常常想play God"的事有意思, 也让我深思. 我看不管咱乐不乐意, 这God总会有人去play. 人类的天性使然. 金刚是不是言尤为尽, 想不想展开聊聊?
俺还想谢谢金刚让这条线从不得好死到起死回生. 我早就担心这条线弄不好也得以掐架告终. 正担心着呢, 及时雨金刚就来了.
还想跟xxxmmm说一句, 千万别因为什么人的几句话就吓跑了. 有人心不静,气不顺,看谁说话都不顺眼. 甭理他就完了. 有话咱还接着说.
Dear Doctor Rude,
I think I understand what a "platonic kiss" is, but could you explain to me the difference between the following kisses?
Flummoxed in Florida
That's a very good question; nowadays most sex education courses focus on secondary and tertiary sources, so much so that few people really get exposed to the classics in this field any more. I'll try to make a brief but clear summary of some of these important types of kisses:
a kiss performed using techniques gained solely from theoretical speculation untainted by any experiential data by one who feels that the latter is irrelevant anyway.
dialiptical technique in which the kiss incorporates its own antithikiss, forming a synthekiss.
the important thing about this type of kiss is that it refers only to the symbol (our internal mental representation we associate with the experience of the kiss--which must necessarilly also be differentiated from the act itself for obvious reasons and which need not be by any means the same or even similar for the different people experiencing the act) rather than the act itself and, as such, one must be careful not to make unwarranted generalizations about the act itself or the experience thereof based merely on our manipulation of the symbology therefor.
a kiss that takes an extraordinarilly long time, yet leaves you unable to decide whether you've been kissed or not.