Sunday, March 31, 2013

"All that we are saying . . . " Really, is that all?

I read this a few weeks ago in Alfred Jules Ayer's Language Truth and Logic, my car book for the last month or so, and have been meaning to post it ever since. Read it and then go back and read the first eight words again:

"For, roughly speaking, all that we are saying when we say that the mental state of a person A at a time t is a a state of awareness of a material thing X, is that the sense-experience which is the element of A occurring at a time t contains a sense-content which is an element of X, and also certain images which define A's expectation of the occurrence in suitable circumstances of certain further elements of X, and that this expectation is correct: and what we are saying when we assert that a mental object M and a physical object X are causally connected is that, in certain conditions, the occurrence of a certain sort of sense-content, which is an element of M, is a reliable sign of the occurrence of a certain sort of sense-content, which is an element of X, or vice versa, [a]nd the question whether any propositions of these kinds are true or not is clearly an empirical question."

THAT'S ONE SENTENCE!  That's "roughly speaking, all [he] was saying?" Thank God. Because I read it about 7 times AND his whole book and I have no idea what he is talking about.

All he is saying? Hysterical. And then I love the end too - ". . . is clearly an empirical question?"  Yes, clearly.


  1. I call this Kierkegaard syndrome: it exists in every paragraph that fucker ever wrote and anyone who claims to completely understand him is a lying sack of excrement. Newton wrote like that also, but he has two excuses: one, he was way smarter than almost everyone who lived when he did, and two, the English language was a little bit different 300 years ago. These 20th and 21st century writers have no excuse for being so damn obtuse. Pisses me off almost as much as the son of bitch who invented the cellophane cracker wrappers. That guy needs to die painfully.

  2. Well I sure have good news for you. Dr. Jacques Edwin Brandenberg is long dead, and even his daughter Irma has been dead since 1965. But, you will also be happy to know she created a foundation in his name. Here is his foundation's website so you can write a nasty: The good doctor apparently conceived of the idea in 1900 and it took about ten years to create it. He began selling it in the U.S. to Whitman's Candy Company in 1912, so you can blame them too if you like. Or Dupont which took over his U.S. rights. Enjoy yourself.

  3. Whitman's candy and Dupont? Did they use candy as an ingredient in napalm???


Your comments are welcome.

About Me

My photo
I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .