Sunday, 19 April 2009

Globular Synthesis

It's late. I've been up studying Linguistics for the final on Tuesday. And there, included within my notes is a discussion on the difference between analytic and synthetic sentences. I've been transported back to philosophy class, full of white ravens and married bachelors, and ethics class, pondering the island of Iceland and female kings.

Now, the question plaguing me and not letting me go to bed is this: Is the statement "the ball is shaped like a globe" analytic or synthetic?

My first instinct is to say it's analytic, but then the football jumps to mind and throws everything into doubt.

Either a football isn't a ball after all, or the statement is synthetic. I can't decide which. I vote for a third category of declarative sentences: analytic, synthetic, and ambiguous.

“The person of analytic or critical intellect finds something ridiculous in everything. The person of synthetic or constructive intellect, in almost nothing.” Goethe

It's going to be a long night.

ETA: I have it! There are two different definitions of "ball" - 1. an object of spherical shape, and 2. a kicked, thrown, or whacked piece of sports gear, excepting notables such as frisbees, pucks, birdies, ringette rings, javelins, darts, and boomerangs.

Now all we have to do is decide which "ball" is being used in the sentence, and that will decide whether the statement is analytic or not!

1 comment:

A confuzzled Jusfin said...

Huh? I didn't really understand that post.