Organizing, Fitting, Predicting

Nilanjan Bhowmick introduces a dilemma regarding conceptual schemes and suggests a solution.

Image courtesy of interviewee. May 30, 2024

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  1. Listened with interest! Here is a question – why is it the case that we humans (even the best minds – the topmost physicists) are not able to understand quantum physics?
    I would suggest to have a look into the book – Quantum Philosophy by Roland Omnes.

    And why was there so fierce debate between Bohr and Einstein – on the nature of Quantum Physics over the issue of its ‘probabilistic’ theories… when Einstein said – “God doesn’t play dice!” In my view, Einstein was a realist and so believed in an objective, true existence (and hence description) of reality… This is a tacit presupposition, or a metaphysical intuition. On the other hand, Bohr, and now van Fraassen, seem to believe in constructivism … which gives space to think of reality as not rigidly pre-determined or objective, where electrons, photons don’t have a pre-determined nature of being a wave or a particle…! Maybe the problem is stemming out of ‘our’ conceptual categories of something being ‘wave’, ‘particle’, not which nature need to respect…!

  2. It’s not just ‘belief’… its a ‘paradigm’ – a repository of tacit, implicit intuitions (about the fundamental nature of reality, or its categories esp. about the nature of space, time, causation – linear or reciprocal causation, etc.) which are presupposed to articulate any explicit linguistic statement. I think, i can also call it ‘worldview’. If it is not shared with other, we can make no sense of that other’s actions or words.

    Now in translations, how much translatability is permitted is dependent on the degree of convergence of such tacitly held worldviews … inherent in their Forms of Life (as later-Wittgenstein would say) and hence in their language. If Incommensurability strikes occasionally, but not too much, it indicates that there is a lot of convergence but sometimes it fails (at incommensurability).

  3. Questions:

    * Do u think language gives us ‘beliefs’? If yes, what explains the beliefs of a Tarzen who has never been exposed to the language? He makes good enough sense of the world to survive, e.g he holds belief of not jumping from a cliff some 100 meters high, and eat the right fruits (not poisonous ones), etc.

    My point is – There exists a cognitive mechanism more fundamental than language itself which enables one to think, hold beliefs and act ‘rationally’ in the world (e.g not to jump from high cliffs), and that mechanism is the basis of language itself. What is that?! This requires one to delve into Embodied Cognition (4ea cognition actually), Cognitive Linguistics, and Heideggerian phenomenology.

    * Davidson seems to make the blunder of throwing baby out with water…! Denying the very conceptual scheme for the fear that allowing it may entail difference of conceptual schemes.

    * What is the nature of this conceptual scheme -linguistic-propositional?! If yes, I disagree.

    These are just old habits of thinking that all our beliefs and concepts are given to us in or through language …based on the intuition that we often find ourselves doing self talk in language.

    My point is – language merely helps in augmenting thinking by freezing thoughts and connecting them together, but it doesn’t constitute thought.

    * The alternative, based on Cognitive Linguistics , is – Beliefs are made up of image-schemas made up of (dynamic, recurrent) patterns of sensory-motor-affective experiences.

    U need to look into the relevant literature to get the point (if u can have the patience to not to dismiss straight away the alternative way of thinking!)

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