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Monday, September 11, 2006

Direction of Fit is Null 

An interesting story is told by G.E.M. Anscombe about the woman and her husband and the shopping list. She tells him to get beer, butter and bacon. Meanwhile, a detective observes him buying the items and notes on his list "beer, butter and bacon", except the point is that these two lists differ in intentionality, etc., etc.

I think that's an example of people getting confusing because they're making an extraordinary effort to account for something. What really happens now is a woman phones her poor husband and says, "Can you pick up some milk on the way home?", and he says "Okay", and picks up some beer. Quite a lot of beer. And maybe something to drink on the drive home. But the detective's brief is to find out what the husband has done in that time, not just what items he bought. He might be fulfilling his task just by noting that he bought some stuff. So the two lists differ chiefly in that one is a description of what someone wants and the other is a description of what someone saw, regardless of content. But what if the detective is supposed to find out what the woman wants? What the husband buys is unimportant then. The headings of the two lists would be "Here's what I want" and "Here's what she wants". The lists' intentionality becomes similar. But now suppose that the woman has just read an article that says: "Here's what you need to be happy", naming some products, and the detective has read that very article or one of its clones. Now they both have the same list with the same function. And what if that's just how things are?


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Watching TV is a good way to tear yourself away from the computer.