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Wandering SignificanceAn Essay on Conceptual Behaviour$
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Mark Wilson

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199269259

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199269259.001.0001

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THE VIRTUES OF CRACKED REASONING

THE VIRTUES OF CRACKED REASONING

Chapter:
(p.287) 6 THE VIRTUES OF CRACKED REASONING
Source:
Wandering Significance
Author(s):

Mark Wilson (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199269259.003.0006

Drawing upon the rich experience gathered within applied mathematics, various ‘facade patterns’ are examined that frequently develop when an originating usage enlarges its descriptive scope through patch-to-patch prolongation. The completed results can generate a global structure that is syntactically inconsistent as a whole, yet avoids logical ruination through simple restrictions upon data exportation from one patch to another (a ‘Riemann surface’ represents a standard mathematical prototype of the phenomenon). It is argued that not only do such facades often represent the natural end products of ordinary linguistic development, they often provide particularly effective forms of linguistic engineering. Philosophical puzzles sometimes arise when these alternative patterns of semantic design get mistaken for classical models, as the troubled history of ‘force’ effectively illustrates. The fact that we can rarely determine whether an initial collection of descriptive vocabulary is destined to develop into a facade rather than implementing a simpler pattern of word/world alignment provides a convenient indication of the degree to which a classical picture of conceptual grasp exaggerates our capacity to augur the fate of our descriptive words over time.

Keywords:   predicate personality, strategic accommodation, prolongation, multi-sheeted coverings, Riemann surfaces, Stokes phenomenon, foundational looping

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