Sunday, May 10, 2009

12a The Hon. Lady Victoria Welby

Sometimes you really don't understand the mechanisms that underly the methods of selection of information. Neither the Stanford Encyclopedia nor the Internet Encyclopedia contain an article about Victoria Lady Welby.

If, at this moment in history about 1890 -1900, there is one woman who is a real philosopher in the traditional male sense of the word, so to speak, then SHE is. When you go to the Senate House Library of the Univeristy of London you can consult her library.

"A collection of books and pamphlets formed and extensively annotated by the Hon. Victoria A M L Stuart-Wortley, afterwards Lady Welby-Gregory (1837-1912), was given by her husband Sir Charles Welby-Gregory.

It consists of 1,500 volumes and 1,000 pamphlets, mostly 19th century, on theology, philosophy, economics, education, science and philology. Current interest in the collection stems from Lady Welby's development of "significs", now understood as a forerunner of semiology."

In 1911 a long article was added to the famous Encyclopedia Brittanica about Lady Welby, but she is not mentioned in our Internet Encyclopedias of philosophy. Really an issue that makes me wonder.

As philosopher she had an intense and significant correspondence with Charles Peirce, because she was highly interested in the theory of meaning. We'll pay attention to that later. First read what the Stanford article on Peirce says about this communication between the two

"Peirce was geographically and intellectually isolated and his main outlet was correspondence with the English woman, Lady Victoria Welby. Welby wrote on various philosophical topics and shared Peirce's interests in signs and meaning. This seems to have given Peirce a willing and sympathetic audience for his developing ideas on signs."

That last sentence.........This SEEMS to have given AUDIENCE for HIS development...... Do you get the message...we aren't even sure if this correspondence meant anything substantial, is what I read here, but she was a nice lady, sitting still and quietly listening to the master.

In 1898, however, this Lady Welby published a first article in the prestigeous philosophical magazine Mind, in which she gave a first outline of her theory of meaning. In 1902 she published her book "What is Meaning?" This book was extensively reviewed by Peirce in "The Nation" of 1903.

And now let us quote Mary Warnock: "Peirce may have made her change her mind in matters of detail, perhaps, or she may have changed his; it is certain that their long correspondence, still flourishing in 1909, contributed to the development of pragmatism as a kind of systematic epistemology."

What is interesting here, historically, is that the theory of meaning, that is, the question how language relates to reality was such a hot item in the philosophical discourse of those days. Why was that?

This was the question that I ran into while studying Victoria Lady Welby. When you take the content of her library, you may conclude that she had a wide range of interests, but for some reason the theory of meaning was her first love.

If it were only because I am a little pissed about the casual disdain with which this philosopher is qualified as a seemingly nice audience, Victory Lady Welby deserves a second lecture.

But in that lecture I'll try to investigate the question why she was so interested in the theory of meaning, why this was such a topic around 1890 - 1900. So...see you on Thursday.

The Discussion

[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: lolololol
[13:21] Daruma Boa: thats it?
[13:21] Daruma Boa: wow
[13:21] itsme Frederix: quicky Herman
[13:21] Ze Novikov: lol
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: now we know he is pissed
[13:22] Cailleach Shan: That's me... a nice lady sitting listening to the Master.
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:22] herman Bergson smiles
[13:22] Daruma Boa: yes;-)
[13:22] hope63 Shepherd: so why not tell us already something about the theories of meaning herman.. relation to linguistics- wittgenstein etc?
[13:22] Ze Novikov: are we to be turned out to the street with so little bread?
[13:23] Ze Novikov: smiles
[13:23] Samuel Okelly: :)
[13:23] hope63 Shepherd: right o. ze:)
[13:23] Samuel Okelly: i for one am grateful for herman's succinctness as i must dash :)
[13:23] herman Bergson: I thought to begin the year in a light tone....not to burden you too much already..:-)
[13:23] Jupp Zsun: and specially me ;-)
[13:23] Samuel Okelly: tc every1 :)
[13:24] herman Bergson: But the basic idea of the theories of meaning is that words have a meaning and a reference....
[13:24] hope63 Shepherd: i think we all had too many christmas cookies.. time to make the brain work to loose some calories..:)
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: lololol
[13:24] Cailleach Shan: cookies!!! Do they make them in liquid form now..:)
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: put your name in ari's mail jupp so you will get a copy of hie book
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: and also visit Herman's blog
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: has everything there
[13:24] Jupp Zsun: but dont know ari
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: on the wall
[13:25] Jupp Zsun: k, i will ask daruma for this
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: directions
[13:25] Jupp Zsun: have problems with the steering here, sorry
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate:
[13:25] Jupp Zsun: this rl
[13:25] herman Bergson: get back to the subject and Hope's request....
[13:25] Jupp Zsun: lol !
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:26] herman Bergson: giving the meaning of a word is not such a difficult issue....
[13:26] herman Bergson: you just need other words which arent identical with the word you give the meaning of
[13:27] herman Bergson: more difficult is to estabish the reference of a word....
[13:27] herman Bergson: that leads to tons of philosophical problems
[13:27] herman Bergson: We have seen that many times now
[13:28] herman Bergson: the reference of a word is its realtion to a non verbal object (of any kind)
[13:28] Cailleach Shan: mmmmm.... can you give an example Herman?
[13:29] herman Bergson: How do we know that the word 'book' referes to a certain external object
[13:29] hope63 Shepherd: but also the reference to a non verbal object is one's individual appreciation of the object..
[13:29] herman Bergson: oh yes....Hope..I just tried to begin simple..
[13:29] Daruma Boa: ^^
[13:29] hope63 Shepherd: so the individual appreciation even if using a word might not be identical with someone elses
[13:30] herman Bergson: as I said Hiope...let's begin simple...
[13:30] herman Bergson: take the word 'purple skirt'
[13:30] hope63 Shepherd: lol.. we had 3 weeks to recover our
[13:30] Cailleach Shan: Are you saying that every word is open to individual interpretation.
[13:30] Daruma Boa: with cookies...
[13:30] herman Bergson: the meaning can be descriibes as a piece of clothing with a certain color
[13:31] herman Bergson: the reference I can establish by pointing at Cailleach's skirt and say....that is a purple skirt....
[13:31] herman Bergson: then there is a relation between (at least) my sensory experiences and an object...
[13:32] herman Bergson: I assume that you all have similar sensory experiences and say: Ah..yes I see
[13:32] herman Bergson: ontologically we already have taken a big step here by assuming an external world
[13:33] Jupp Zsun: an external object
[13:33] Jupp Zsun: the purple skirt
[13:33] herman Bergson: yes....external to our mind
[13:33] Daruma Boa: for me it is pink^^
[13:33] Jupp Zsun: ok
[13:33] herman Bergson: so one way of establishing a reference is by just pointing at the object
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: i would say rose
[13:33] Daruma Boa: the shirt of rod is purple^^^
[13:34] Daruma Boa: aloha rodeney!
[13:34] Cailleach Shan: lol lately purple.... Hid Rodney
[13:34] Daruma Boa: stil too late in the new year
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: the sit spots are red
[13:34] Daruma Boa: lol
[13:34] Rodney Handrick: HI EVERYONE
[13:34] Daruma Boa: happy new year to u
[13:34] herman Bergson: Hi Rodney...welcome
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: ;-)
[13:34] herman Bergson: Things become complicated when we begin to use abstract terms like love or democracy....
[13:35] Daruma Boa: that is true!
[13:35] Daruma Boa: we must keep everything simple
[13:35] herman Bergson: we easily can describe the meaning....which is, give a definition....
[13:35] hope63 Shepherd: in love.. daruma?
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: oh wow
[13:35] herman Bergson: but how to establish the reference....
[13:35] Daruma Boa: LOL
[13:35] Rodney Handrick: yes...thank you Dar...happy new year to you as well
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: it is very complicated as usua
[13:35] Cailleach Shan: General consensus?
[13:35] herman Bergson: we cant point at some object named democracy...
[13:36] : Anja Amaterasu raises hand
[13:36] herman Bergson: Anja?
[13:36] : Anja Amaterasu raises hand
[13:36] Jupp Zsun: this funny lol
[13:36] hope63 Shepherd: go ahead anja...
[13:36] Jupp Zsun: but sorry
[13:36] itsme Frederix: Herman it was Hegel who thought that love /democracy and that kind of terms were not abstract, purple book were in his thinking very abstract
[13:36] Anja Amaterasu: Sorry
[13:37] Jupp Zsun: np
[13:37] herman Bergson: yes Itsme...already Plato believed that these concepts werent abstract at all....
[13:37] itsme Frederix: in a way they were/are right
[13:37] herman Bergson: the pointing device was not our finger in this case but our mind
[13:37] Jupp Zsun: but every person has an own mind, so a problem i think about
[13:38] herman Bergson: Yes Jupp....that is the weak spot in it....
[13:38] herman Bergson: the private mind versus some kind of colllective mind for instance
[13:38] herman Bergson: or as Cailleach said.....consensus....
[13:39] hope63 Shepherd: cal is right.. (as usual) there is no collective mind.. if we finallly can agree on the mind/brain identity..
[13:39] itsme Frederix: but all is based on a common neurological working somewhere in that brain
[13:39] herman Bergson: Next class I'll give you a thourough analysis of the theory of meaning and how it developed
[13:40] itsme Frederix: sound like Monty Python
[13:40] Daruma Boa: ^^
[13:40] Cailleach Shan: lol or Woody Herman
[13:40] Daruma Boa: meaning of life
[13:40] Rodney Handrick: In order to have a collective mind one must assume everyone is trained equally
[13:40] itsme Frederix: Bryan Brain
[13:40] herman Bergson: I just do the theory of yourself do the living
[13:41] Jupp Zsun: this not possible rodney
[13:41] Daruma Boa: but i think, every brain works different.
[13:41] Rodney Handrick: This is true Jupp
[13:41] oola Neruda: thinking how much more complicated this is when one is doing poetry
[13:41] Daruma Boa: even when we all learn and know the same
[13:41] hope63 Shepherd: could omne develop a theory about the theory of meaning..grin..
[13:41] herman Bergson: Yes plz...oola leave the use of language in poetry out ...:-)
[13:42] oola Neruda: k
[13:42] itsme Frederix: basicly it might be all the same, like diff. PC's running diff. programs but still its is just the same principle
[13:42] herman Bergson: yes Hope..that would be an option
[13:42] Rodney Handrick: hmm..interesting itsme
[13:42] Daruma Boa: we are no pcs....
[13:43] Jupp Zsun: lol
[13:43] Daruma Boa: or mac´s
[13:43] herman Bergson: that is what philosophers hope for Itsme....
[13:43] itsme Frederix: maybe Rodney, but abstraction give room for more devellopment
[13:43] Rene2008 Zanzibar: excuse me, need 2 leave
[13:43] Cailleach Shan: All pc's are not created equal either.
[13:43] herman Bergson: independent of the individual mind it should be everywhere the same principle
[13:43] Daruma Boa: yes my mac has its own life
[13:43] Daruma Boa: believe me...
[13:43] hope63 Shepherd: like mac and windows..and linux.. trying hard to find the same meanings ..
[13:43] Rodney Handrick: True Cal
[13:43] hope63 Shepherd: concensus.. as cal said..
[13:43] Rodney Handrick: Bye Rene
[13:44] itsme Frederix: same as laws of physics, allthough ofcourse there are speculations that they only fit in our universum (makes sence)
[13:44] Daruma Boa: schöh rene
[13:44] herman Bergson: yes Hope but even the concept of consensus leads to debate...
[13:44] herman Bergson: what are the criteria for saying: now we have a consensus?
[13:44] itsme Frederix: well lets use math, conqruention
[13:45] hope63 Shepherd: lol.. THAt IS NOT JUIST A DEBATE.. LOOK AT UNCOUNCIL.
[13:45] Cailleach Shan: lol when the strongest mind takes all the rest along.
[13:45] itsme Frederix: as long as you can find a transformation rule there is a distinct relation or maybe you can call that consensus
[13:46] herman Bergson: well.....this introduction may then be called a quicky...^_^
[13:46] Daruma Boa: LOL
[13:46] herman Bergson: be prepared for the next class then.....
[13:46] itsme Frederix: often these are the best
[13:46] Daruma Boa: too easy
[13:46] Gemma Cleanslate: hope to be
[13:46] Cailleach Shan: Hahahahahaha..... in New Zealand that has a very different meaning.
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: everywhere cailleah
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:47] Cailleach Shan: lol funny that :)
[13:47] Cailleach Shan: Consensus do you think?
[13:47] herman Bergson: I know that meaning too, Cailleach..:-)
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:47] herman Bergson: I didnt use the term first
[13:47] itsme Frederix: I did not mean it in that way first
[13:47] Daruma Boa: so quicky is a consensus
[13:48] herman Bergson: so expect me to screw your brains next class...^_^
[13:48] hope63 Shepherd: short lasting-but consensus..:)
[13:48] herman Bergson: slowly...:-)
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: i think we are going in circles :-)
[13:48] Cailleach Shan: Oh... btw just to change the subject...Herman.... thanks for the pressie of the game. Sure made me go back to my notes.
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:49] herman Bergson: You managed to play it Gemma?
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: no
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: lol\
[13:49] Ze Novikov: shhhhh!
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: i feel a lack of directions
[13:49] oola Neruda: it might be fun to stay after class sometime and play ... with several people...
[13:49] herman Bergson: Yes we'll do that oola..:-)
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: oh good then i can watch
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:50] Ze Novikov: lol
[13:50] Cailleach Shan: Thanks Herman..... bye everyone...... time for coffee :)
[13:50] Daruma Boa: hi paula
[13:50] herman Bergson: Hi Paula..:-)
[13:50] Paula Dix: hi :)
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: yes and i needd to go too
[13:50] Cailleach Shan: Bye Paula
[13:50] Rodney Handrick: thanks Herman...
[13:50] Paula Dix: lol bye
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: well
[13:50] hope63 Shepherd: play what..
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: !!!!!
[13:50] herman Bergson: See you all an Thursday then...:-)
[13:51] Daruma Boa: thx herman
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: Bye
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: for today
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: yes

Posted by herman_bergson on 2009-01-10 07:56:40

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