What separates meaningful language from non-meaningful language, genuine science from pseudo-science, and productive philosophy from unproductive philosophy? In the early 20th century, a philosophical movement known as "logical positivism" attempted to specify criteria that could be used to demarcate meaningful language from non-meaningful language. These logical positivists, such as Rudolf Carnap and A.J. Ayer, claimed that only empirically verifiable statements are meaningful, and that any language not empirically verifiable is literally meaningless.
In this 50th episode of Meta Treks, hosts Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling examine the claims of logical positivism through the lens of Star Trek. From the story-based use of language in the TNG episode "Darmok" to the many possible uses of the word "dilithium," Mike and Zachary offer a Star Trek based critique of logical positivism inspired by Ludwig Wittgenstein's account of the meaningfulness of language as its use in various context-dependent "language games."
Welcome to Episode 50 (00:01:07)
Separating Science from Pseudoscience - Only Empirically Verifiable Statements are Meaningful (00:03:29)
"Turkey Hot" - Replicators and Reference (00:07:46)
"Dilithium!" - Wittgenstein and Meaning-as-Use (00:10:23)
Empiricism - Do We Have Direct Sensory Access to the External World? (00:20:34)
"Minuet!" - Holograms and Reference (00:31:17)
"Shaka, When the Walls Fell" - The Meaningfulness of Non-Referential or Mythological Language (00:36:59)
ENT "Strange New World" - Hallucinatory Experience and Rock Creatures (00:47:22)
TNG "The Ensigns of Command" - Cup? Glass? Liquid? Clear? Brown? Hot? (00:55:11)
Language Games (00:59:59)
Final Thoughts (01:08:00)
Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling
Mike Morrison (Editor and Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Charlynn Schmiedt (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager)
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