A philosophy webcomic about the inevitable anguish of living a brief life in an absurd world. Also Jokes

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The Philosophy of Teenage Language


That's right, those penis jokes were just the setup for that sweet, sweet indeterminacy of translation payoff.
That's right, those penis jokes were just the setup for that sweet, sweet indeterminacy of translation payoff.

The Indeterminacy of Translation is an idea by Quine, which says that direct, uniquely correct translations of a foreign language, even theoretically, are impossible. For Quine, knowledge was holistic, so in order to understand even simple sentence from a foreign culture, you would have to understand everything about the culture. For example, if you visit a tribe, and they point out a rabbit and say "tzqqa", you might assume the word refers to the rabbit. But if the tribe believes in some sort of idealism, they might be referring to merely the representation of those sensations, or if the tribe only thinks of objects as what they aren't, they might be pointing out everything in the universe but the rabbit. These kind of questions are undecidable from the language alone, no matter how much you try.

The Indeterminacy of Translation is an idea by Quine, which says that direct, uniquely correct translations of a foreign language, even theoretically, are impossible. For Quine, knowledge was holistic, so in order to understand even simple sentence from a foreign culture, you would have to understand everything about the culture. For example, if you visit a tribe, and they point out a rabbit and say "tzqqa", you might assume the word refers to the rabbit. But if the tribe believes in some sort of idealism, they might be referring to merely the representation of those sensations, or if the tribe only thinks of objects as what they aren't, they might be pointing out everything in the universe but the rabbit. These kind of questions are undecidable from the language alone, no matter how much you try.

Philosophers in this comic: Willard Van Quine, J.L. Austin, Sigmund Freud
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