Debate with a Catholic obfuscating the word 'Meaning' = "Equivocation Fallacy"

 

Here is a section debate concerning the word 'Meaning' with an extremely obstinate, irrational, Catholic fundy.

Debate Source:

 

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Moi:

Well Emm:

It is the human brain that gives words meaning, including yours.

It is the human brain that imposes meaning onto the known universe, because the unknown universe exists, even though we have no meaning for it.

Meaning is a mind based illusion.
Before humans existed and conjured up a meaning for everything we perceive, the universe existed.

Thus for 13 billion years a meaningless universe existed.
It has only been the last 70,000 years that we know of, humans have been attributing meaning to the Sun, stars and perceived objects in the sky.

Thus the universe has only had meaning for that 70,000 years.
Before then, it existed without words describing and attributing meaning to it.

Comprende! 

A Rock or Asteroid still exists, even when no consciousness exists to name it a Rock or Asteroid.

The meaning we attribute to objects is only a word, a word which only exists in the mind of those describing and attributing meaning to those objects.

Before the mind/consciousness of those objects existed, the objects themselves existed, thus they existed without names and without meaning.

A previously unnamed and without meaning asteroid breaks away from the Van Allen Belt and hurtles towards Earth, being picked up by telescopes, and suddenly a nameless, meaningless lump of rock is given a name and meaning.

Though most of the universe is unknown, and exists without names nor meaning.

So very simple.

Isn't it?

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Emm's Response here is typical of his dodge (distraction) tactic, or Red Herring Fallacy:

-----------------------------------------

G'day M8,

"A Rock or Asteroid still exists, even when no consciousness exists to name it a Rock or Asteroid."


A rock by any other name is still a rock. It is never a rose. 

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"It is the human brain that gives words meaning, including yours."

Language gives words meaning.

"It is the human brain that imposes meaning onto the known universe,"

Impose? I could substitute other words such as discover, infer, deduce. From where do the meanings of these words come? Why is impose a more legitimate term than these others?

"Meaning is a mind based illusion."

Then meaning has no meaning and neither mind nor illusion have any meaning.

"Thus for 13 billion years a meaningless universe existed."

Or, you just weren't around to know what it means.

"It has only been the last 70,000 years that we know of, humans have been attributing meaning to the Sun, stars and perceived objects in the sky."

So then, what is the meaning of the sun, and the other stars and perceived objects in the sky?

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Notice the Equivocation Fallacy here.

He is giving two definitions for 'Meaning' in the same paragraph.

Meaning as a definition (Noun, Sun, Stars, Object) and Meaning as a purpose (Meaningless (Adjective) Universe or Purposeless Universe).   

He is not defining whether he is specifically using the Noun or the Adjective form of Meaning, 

He is actually using both forms of the word 'Meaning' here.

This is confusing the term 'Meaning', thus producing an Equivocation Fallacy.

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Moi: cut

Ha Ha Emm:

@ "A rock by any other name is still a rock. It is never a rose. "

Well it could be a Rose if another language exists which uses the term Rose to describe small hardened lumps of Earth.

But, if you know ever studied how languages form, you would know that the sound Rose, would be something softer than a rock as it does not have a short hard sound.

Words in languages are mostly descriptive of form and texture.
Things hard have hard sounds to describe/name them.
Things sharp have sharp sounds to name them.
Soft things have soft sounds for a name.
Rounded objects have rounded names.
Colorful objects have fancy or colorful names.
Words to push people away are said with the lips pushing outward, such as 'Away'.
Words that are meant to bring people closer are said with the lips pulling inwards in gesture such as 'Come'.


 

-------------------------------------------I'll shorten both responses to the main points:

Emm (cut):

"

Naming a thing doesn't bring it into existence or give it meaning/purpose. Naming it merely recognises its existence and meaning/purpose. So rocks and roses have meaning not because of their names but because they exist and have particular characteristics. Without such characteristics and hence meaning/purpose they would not exist."

===============

Note: Here he is trying to say that things have a purpose (intention or divine reason) for existence, where he is using the Adjective variant of 'Meaning', but Naming things is the Noun variant of "Meaning".   Thus he is committing an Equivocation Fallacy in a single sentence.
He is also asserting that there was a purpose for every object in the universe, without any knowledge of how or what this purpose may be, thus he is committing an "Argument From Ignorance Fallacy!

I give Emm a lesson on how languages form and how objects prescribe their own names through their observed characteristics.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Emm gets the debate back on track:

"

Now, back to the topic from which you have departed. 

That which has no meaning cannot exist. That which exists possesses it's own innate meaning derived from it's nature. Without that nature it cannot exist. A meaningless universe could not exist. A meaningless universe is an absurdity!"

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Moi: cut


@ "That which has no meaning cannot exist. That which exists possesses it's own innate meaning derived from it's nature. Without that nature it cannot exist. A meaningless universe could not exist. A meaningless universe is an absurdity!"

Things have "Properties", not "Meaning".

Definitions:

Property: 
"6. an essential or distinctive attribute or quality of a thing:
the chemical and physical properties of an element.

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Emm really gets beyond naive here, in fact Stupid.

He now claims that Salt, Metals all have meaning which are inseparable from their properties.  He states the meaning of salt exists before our discovery of it and we give it meaning when we name it.  This is an Equivocation Fallacy on Meth.

He is now confusing Meaning with three terms: Name/Identity, Properties and Purpose, all in the same passage.

"This is incorrect. It rests upon the notion that there is no real connection between us and our environment. Yet scientifically this notion is unsupportable. So why do you support it? We don't impose the meaning of Salt (NaCl) upon Salt. We discover its meaning by interacting with it."

================

I try to explain to him that he is confusing property with meaning, since in Chemistry, meaning is never a characteristic of any compound or element.

In chemistry, only the terms Characteristics/Behaviours or Properties are used and Meaning is not a property in any list of properties for any element on the Periodic Table.

He refuses to budge and even now, still argues that metals like Iron have meaning beyond the identification, which in reality is the meaning of the word iron, but the element itself has no meaning, but Emm will always argue it has.

Because he has put himself in a philosophical corner.

His Severe Cognitive Dissonance is keeping him from ever admitting defeat.

He is still throwing in red herrings and arguments from ignorance.

His cognitive dissonance is so extreme and his actually knowledge is so poor, that he can do nothing more than use distractions and blatant arguments from ignorance to defend his position.

I wonder why he still argues the same points he has been defeated on, for months on end, never admitting that defeat.

Typical dogmatic fundamentalist Catholic.

He reminds me of William Lane Craig, with his never admitting defeat, but, Emm appears worse!

As recently he has incessantly been resorting to Ad-Hominem attacks (personal insults), which I've been occasionally throwing them back at him or pointing them out.

Personal Insults (Ad-Hominem) attacks are a sure sign of defeat!

Yet, like William Lane Craig, Emm will never admit defeat.

Just let everybody else know he has been defeated by his Ad-Hominem attacks and Red Herring distractions.

Though stirring Emm up is still fun!    :D 

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Comment by Deidre on April 13, 2015 at 5:53pm

A Catholic that is flinging personal insults to a non-Catholic? Say it ain't so. lol 

Sounds to me like there is a fundamental misunderstanding he had between the terms meaning and properties. I like this debate, very interesting. I think that meaning is applied by humans to objects, situations, etc...it's not an outward force that defined everything with meaning. That is where he gets tripped up, but not surprised because most Catholics believe in Intelligent Design, and that presupposes ''purpose'' and ''meaning.'' 

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