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Logic and Conceptual Accessibility

> lojbab cusku di'e
> >Language cannot overcome psychology.  If we wanted to make some
> >objective criteria to distinguish hills from mountains, we could do so
> >(though I note that Lojban uses the same gismu for both %^).  Obviously,
> >at boundary conditions, definitions break down, as you cited with your
> >shovel.

I think that language may not be able to *overcome* psychology, but it
sure can influence it.  If a concept is difficult to formulate in a
language, it makes that concept less accessible, and less easy to use in
thinking.  This is probably the chief reason English borrows so many
words from other other languages.

On Sat, 25 Nov 1995, Steven M. Belknap wrote:

> There is a psychiatrist named Aaron Beck, who discovered that depression is
> invariably accompanied by cognitive distortions. Some of these are:
> Dichotomous Thinking
> Overgeneralization
> Selective Abstractioon
> Disqualifying the Positive
> Prejudicial Reasoning
> Hyperbolic Distortion
> Emotional Reasoning
> Obligatory Thinking
> Labeling
> Personalization

Imagine a language with simple referents for these cognitive distortions.
Say that you had a word, "dichto" which meant, "I feel that your
statement suffers from dichotomous thinking." in the same way that "no"
can mean "I don't agree with your statement."

Then, if someone said, "Capitalism is the best, as it is far better than
Communism," you could agree "Yes!" (statement is true, I have the same
criteria and analysis), disagree "No!" (statement is false, my
criteria/analysis differ) or point out the underlying flaw, "Dichto!" (you
are thinking dichotomously, and should consider that these are not
opposites and that other systems exist).

(This would be analogous to someone responding "Ad hominem!" to a
statement "Your idea has no merit because you are a jerk."  The phrase "ad
hominem" makes the concept of this error-in-thinking accessible, which is
why we've borrowed it... we didn't have an easy way to say this in


P.S.  Steven, I know Bob is on the Conlang list... maybe we should move
this discussion there?  I don't want to choke the Lojban list with things
that might not be considered relevant.

Peter Schuerman                                    plschuerman@ucdavis.edu
                        Co-editor, SPECTRA Online