Hayakawa Ch. 10


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Hayakawa Chapter 10
•     Giving Things Names

o     A differentiation set itself up, and, abstracting the common characteristics.

o     The question what is it really? Or what is its right name? are nonsense questions.

o     Things can only have “right names” only if there is a necessary connection between symbols and things being symbolized.

o     What we call things and where we draw the line between one class of things and another depends upon the interests we have and the purpose of the classification.

o     Each is useful for its purpose.

o     If our culture upbringing was different, the world would look different to us.

o     Also, many people can’t distinguish between like things. For example salmon, perch, pickerel, etc. They just call them “fish.”

o     When we name something we are classifying.

o     The individual object or event we are naming has no name and belongs to no class until we put it in one.

o     The extensional meaning of a word determines a prior existence.

o     In matters of “race” and “nationality”, in the way in which classifications work is especially apparent.

o     The effect that each classification has upon what he may or many not do constitutes their “reality.”

o     It would be exactly as justifiable to say that any person with even a small amount of “white blood” is “white”. Because the former system of classification suits the convenience of those making the classification.

o     Classification isn’t a matter of identifying “essences” but it is simply a reflection of social convenience or necessity.

o     As soon as the process of classification is completed, our attitudes and our conduct are determined.

•     The Blocked Mind

o     Snap judgments suggests that such errors can be avoided by thinking more slowly; this isn’t the case, for some people think very slowly with no better results.

o     What we are concerned with is the way in which we block the development of our own minds by automatic reactions.

o     Some people may say, “A Jew is a Jew and there’s no getting around that.”

o     They have an extensional Jew with the fictitious “Jew” inside their heads.

o     The fictitious “Jew” inside their heads remains unchanged in spite of their experiences.

o     Some people ignore the characteristics left out in the process of classification.

•     Cow 1 Is Not Cow 2

o     Practically all statements in ordinary conversation, debate, and public controversy taking the form “Republicans are Republicans” are not true.

o     An example is “business is business.” The 1st business invokes denotes the transaction under discussion and the 2nd invokes the connotations of the word.

o     The terms of the classification tell us what the individuals in that class have in common.

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The index numbers remind us of the characteristics left out.

o     This prevents us from confusing levels of abstraction and forces us to consider the facts so we don’t regret it later.

•     “Truth”

o     Many semantic (relating to the meaning) problems are problems of classification and nomenclature (assigning names).

o     The decision you make rests not upon appeals to past authority, but upon what society wants. Society regards as “true” those systems of classification that produce the desired results.

o     The results by society may be irrational, superstitious, selfish, or humane, but the scientists produce predictable results.

o     Science seeks only the most generally useful systems of classification.


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