Re: The Copy Paradox

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Fri, 14 Nov 1997 14:09:41 -0800 (PST)

>>> Absolutely, but "you" are not a few hundred pounds of protoplasm,
>>> you are the way matter reacts when it is organized in a specific
>>> complex way. You are not a noun, you are an adjective.
>> I'd say I'm a verb.
> You are both making category mistakes here. The sort of things that
> are verbs or adjectives or nouns are words and perhaps concepts. But
> human beings are not words or concepts, although there are words that
> denote human beings and at least one concept of human being. To say
> that you are a verb is to imply that you are not alive, because
> neither words nor concepts are living things.
> Also, note the interdefinability of nouns, adjectives and nouns, in
> a natural (at least in the eyes of philosophers) extension of
> English:
> Dog=that which "dogs"=that which is "doggish".
> IMHO, if one is afraid of being mentally imprisoned by language
> patterns, one is better advised to read Carnap and W. V. Quine than
> to study this e-prime stuff.

I think the distinction he was trying to make is not that of
"noun/verb" but of "medium/message" or "substrate/pattern", which
is a useful one. Noun/verb/adjective is an artificial distinction
based on conventions of language (natural languages, that is;
Lojban has no such concept), but "hardware/software" is a real,
fundamental distinction. Most of the talk here about identity is
just arguing definitions for the natural-language "I", and there
are two axes of argument: one, does it refer to hardware or to
software (to which I think most here will agree upon the latter),
and the second axis, does "I" refer to the particular instantiation
of the pattern (in Lojban "le sevzi") or to the abstraction of the
pattern independent of particular instances ("le ka sevzi"). The
answer to that is again just a matter of language convention, not
the subject of rational debate.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC