[PH] > By using the word "the" here, you
beg the central question: whether there is a *single* set of primitives out of
which all other meanings can be formed.
Ah so. This is an objection I hadn’t gleaned from the earlier
notes. Interesting point. I thought the main objection was
about the finite number of primitives, not their identity. I
confess it has been an assumption of mine that, from the point of view of a “primitive”
concept being indivisible into smaller primitive concepts (crudely analogous to
an atom, in its role as a component of molecules), that a finite inventory of
such primitive-atoms (if such exists) would be unique. I have never seen
this point raised, and it may be significant, but right now I can’t think
of any way a set of indivisible primitives could be anything but unique.
Limited imagination, perhaps.
Now I have noticed that there are mathematical
objects that have very non-intuitive properties, and perhaps a mathematician
can provide some examples of how a set of primitive concepts (not divisible
into component primitive concepts) might be able to be formulated in more than
one way. I am genuinely curious about this suggestion.
[MW] There are two ways (at least) that one concept can be
defined in terms of another: relationally, and by intersection (strictly a
special sort of relational definition I suppose).
Definition by intersection works for example when you take, say,
blue things, and cars, and derive the intersection blue cars. Quite
An example of a relational definition is: f = ma
The characteristic of this kind of definition is that of the 3
objects, any two can be taken as primitive and the third derived from them. (I
recall Chris Menzel making this point recently).
This is where the problem lies for you. Any time you want to
define something except by intersection, you have the option to choose your
primitives (and it is questionable whether you should not retain all as
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