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"It might seem as if, if I take two pieces of chalk and say, "This is bigger than this", then what I say might be ambiguous. For it would be quite consistent with that explanation of the phrase "bigger than" that it should mean, for instance, "to the left of". Similarly, if I had pointed in turn to two pieces of chalk and said, "This is the same as that", I might have meant that they were the same size or the same shape or the same colour or many other things. But to say that everything is the same as iteslf seems utterly ambiguous.

I think the sentence "For it would be quite consistent with that explanation of the phrase "bigger than" that it should mean, for instance, "to the left of"." is understandible; however, that sentence is poorly written. I think he shouldn't have used an example (to the left of) to convey the meaning he intended.

What do you think of that sentence?
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Comments  
I don't even think that it is an explanation. It is more like a clarification than anything else in my opinion. What do you think?
Ah, nevermind explanation and clarification means pretty much the same thing.
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wholegrainWhat do you think of that sentence?
Typical Wittgenstein. Is the following better, do you think? I have purposely omitted "to the left of", which you seem not to like, though personally I don't see any objection to it. Emotion: smile

To say "This is X compared to that" is not to explain the meaning of X at all, because "this" could be related to "that" in any number of different ways. If "this" is bigger, brighter, and longer that "that", for example, one listener might think X means "big"; another might think X means "bright"; another might think X means "long".

There are probably a hundred ways to get the point across, but philosophers are not known for choosing the most elementary ways of expressing themselves. This is the "occupational hazard" for readers of philosophy!

CJ
I hoped that someone would reword the sentence with the expression "to the left of" because I don't know exactly why he says "that explanation" because there's no explanation to refer to previously.
I perhaps did not understand the sentence at all.
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"For it would be quite consistent with that explanation of the phrase "bigger than"

Can you reword this sentence? Thank you.
My first interpretation was quite peculiar, and I recently noticed that it doesn't really hold. I don't understand what he mean exactly by "explanation". What explanation?? He says that explanation like he gave an explanation before, but I see no explanation at all. Does he mean description by explanation, but he doesn't describe the phrase, he only comment on it.
wholegrainI don't understand what he mean exactly by "explanation". What explanation??
Tsk, tsk, tsk. What are we going to do with you, wholegrain?! I already paraphrased the whole thing (except for the "same as itself" part at the end)! Emotion: smile

The explanation is "This is bigger than this". It's an explanation (illustration, demonstrative definition) of "bigger than". Dr. W. is saying that it makes no sense to define things this way. You can't just point at one thing and another and say "This one has got more of it than that one" (where "it" is the property you're trying to define). Such a procedure is not an (adequate) explanation. Consider: If the bigger one were on the left of the smaller, the listener who doesn't understand at all what the words "bigger than" mean might think that "bigger than" means "to the left of".

Look at this:

S z

Explanation of "krlwntwp wnoq": This one here (S) is krlwntwp wnoq this one here (z).

Now what does krlwntwp wnoq mean?

Does it mean "bigger than"? Does it mean "to the left of"? Does it mean "less angular than"? Does it mean "near"? Does it mean "beside"?

CJ
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