E-Prime (new to me)
Posted: 16 January 2010 09:48 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Seemingly ridiculous

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Posted: 16 January 2010 10:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Here‘s the correct link, and yes, it is ridiculous… er, I mean, it seems ridiculous to me.

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Posted: 17 January 2010 08:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Any rigorous and systematic implementation of E-prime rightly comes in for ridicule. But occasionally indulging in it as an intellectual exercise can bear fruit. E-prime can help in spotting logical flaws in an argument. And, as the linked article points out, by forcing one to rephrase a statement, it can punch holes in dogmatic statements.

The linked article contains the example of “taxation is theft.” Casting this in E-prime results in something like, “taxation requires theft.” One then can ask, what component of taxation requires theft? Can the government collect taxes without stealing? How?

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Posted: 17 January 2010 11:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Sorry about the naff link and thanks for the correction, LH.
As Dave says this sort of approach can clarify thinking. Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am” presupposes what it sets out to prove - “Thinking occurs therefore a thinker must exist” is better in E- Prime. Who cares? Darwin’s Bulldog TH Huxley (another biologist like Dawkins!) was on the right track:

“...it is proper for me to point out that we have left Descartes himself some way behind us. He stopped at the famous formula, “I think, therefore I am.” Yet a little [177] consideration will show this formula to be full of snares and verbal entanglements. In the first place, the “therefore” has no business there. The “I am” is assumed in the “I think,” which is simply another way of saying “I am thinking.” And, in the second place, “I think” is not one simple proposition, but three distinct assertions rolled into one. The first of these is, “something called I exists;” the second is, “something called thought exists;” and the third is, “the thought is the result of the action of the I."”

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Posted: 20 January 2010 11:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Bourland must not have been—er, Bourland must not have held much fondness for the passive voice.

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Posted: 20 January 2010 02:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The E-prime proposal is simply an exercise in self-reflection and precision in thought—and who can argue with that?

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Posted: 20 January 2010 03:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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This is an interesting thread.  E-prime comes from General Semantics.  General Semantics in turn has come into the popular culture through science fiction works of L. Ron Hubbard and Robert Heinlein.  For example, Heinlein’s invention of the concept of a Fair Witness in the novel Stranger in a Strange Land seems to me, at least, to owe a lot to the precision in use of language embodied in the e-prime proposal.

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Posted: 21 January 2010 08:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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“Thinking occurs therefore a thinker must exist” is better in E- Prime.

In exactly the same way that a photograph is a better representation of the sky than Starry Night.

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Posted: 22 January 2010 07:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Yes, that holds only for extremely restricted senses of “better.”

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Posted: 22 January 2010 07:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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General Semantics in turn has come into the popular culture through science fiction works of L. Ron Hubbard and Robert Heinlein.

Also popularized by A E Van Vogt in his Null-A novels.

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Posted: 22 January 2010 08:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Yes, that’s where I ran across it.

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Posted: 22 January 2010 11:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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All three of those guys (Hubbard, Heinlein, van Vogt) were part of John W. Campbell’s stable of writers. Campbell was the editor of Astounding Science Fiction, and a major influence on the development of the field in the 1940s through the ‘60s, and on the development of those writers in particular (as well as Isaac Asimov and quite a few others not quite so famous). Campbell took up various quasi- to pseudo-scientific enthusiasms (e.g, psionics, Dianetics, General Semantics) and helped to spread them among his writers.  ISTR that van Vogt was the first in that group to take up GS; certainly he was the most ardent devotee among them.

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Posted: 26 January 2010 09:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Heinlein, van Vogt and, particularly, Asimov and Hubbard were barely adequate stylists (though Asimov wrote good about popular science and pseudoscience in his non-fiction books - Hubbard based his whole bollocks on pseudoscience and cod physics not to mention the galactic warlord Xenu’s endeavours).
Descartes was attempting to find a starting point for certainty in knowledge with his Cogito Ergo Sum - a brave effort and groundbreaking for the 17th century. His proofs for the existence of God in the same work are still examined (and found wanting) as exercises in reasoning. Sure beats Lester Del Rey, Cyril Kornbluth, Robert Sheckley etc for depth but not entertainment. My fave SF short story, of course, is Arthur C. Clarke’s The Star.

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