Saturday, December 19, 2009

How to sing like an eliminative materialist

If eliminative materialism were true, then none of our utterances would have any meaning. There would be no difference between even learned philosophical discourse and mere gibberish. Even the statement “Eliminative materialism is true” would have no more content than “Blah blah blah.” What would the world be like if we all started to look at it this way? How would we sound to each other? Pretty cool, apparently. Check this out (ht: Siris):



And no, that's (mostly) not Italian, but rather, as Siris tells us, "what American pop music used to sound like to Italians"(!) A new EM anthem: Prisencolinensinainciusol! Sing it!

22 comments:

Jack said...

not exactly 'saturday night' is it :)

Anonymous said...

You know, in all the fun of taking a metaphorical bat to EM, I do think they tend to make an interesting claim that many people seem to be glossing over: That all other naturalists, even physicalists, are being unscientific (and are betraying naturalism?) by continuing to accept things like "beliefs" or "meaning", etc.

That fascinates me. From the EM perspective, as crazy and self-refuting as it is, wouldn't people talking about "beliefs" and "purpose" and "desires" and other mental/teleological concepts be... supernaturalists?

Anonymous said...

Adding to above.

What's surprising to me about that is that, if it's accurate, it seems like it's a claim that could and would be lodged against other naturalists and physicalists.

Brandon said...

Here are the 'lyrics', for those who are interested; the pronunciations are (roughly) Italian, although (1) they are drawled and flattened in order to mimic American English sounds and (2) Celentano doesn't quite manage to maintain the same pronunciation all the way through:

Prisencolinensinainciusol

In de col men seivuan
Prisencolinensinainciusol ol rait

Uis de seim cius nau op de seim
Ol uait men in de colobos dai
Trrr - ciak is e maind beghin de col
Bebi stei ye push yo oh

Uis de seim cius nau op de seim
Ol uoit men in de colobos dai
Not s de seim laikiu de promisdin
Iu nau in trabol lovgiai ciu gen

In do camo not cius no bai for lov so
Op op giast cam lau ue cam lov ai
Oping tu stei laik cius go mo men
Iu bicos tue men cold dobrei goris
Oh sandei

Ai ai smai sesler
Eni els so co uil piso ai
In de col men seivuan
Prisencolinensinainciusol ol rait

Ai ai smai senflecs
Eni go for doing peso ai
Prisencolinensinainciusol ol rait

Uel ai sint no ai giv de sint
Laik de cius nobodi oh gud taim lev feis go
Uis de seim et seim cius go no ben
Let de cius end kai for not de gai giast stei

Ai ai smai senflecs
Eni go for doing peso ai
In de col mein seivuan
Prisencolinensinainciusol ol rait

Lu nei si not sicidor
Ah es la bebi la dai big iour

Ai aismai senflecs
Eni go for doing peso ai
In de col mein seivuan
Prisencolinensinainciusol ol rait

Lu nei si not sicodor
Ah es la bebi la dai big iour

Edward Feser said...

Gee Brandon, I hope you didn't have to spend too many hours on YouTube transcribing all that... ;-)

Seriously, thanks for the link to this video. It is, as you said, "very catchy, in a crazy-making way."

Re: the lyrics, I love how the Americanism "All right!" is heard as "ol rait," and "baby" as "bebi"! From what I understand, the rest is (intentionally) pure gibberish.

Matthew said...

I can't watch it because - get this - Sony has copyright on this!

Brandon said...

Fortunately, there are people without lives whose work on this can be simply appropriated, thus saving my own lack of a life for other unimportant wastes of time.

The echos of real American song-cliche's are what I like about it, too; they are perfect finishing touches, since they make the gibberish sound like it should make sense. Best thing in nonsense since "Jabberwocky".

Brandon said...

As a side note, the blonde in the video is the 60s/70s Italian diva, Rafaella Carra. Here is Rafaella doing her typical thing in a duet with Donna Summer (although not showing her midriff, for which she was notorious --- when she started out she scandalized people by showing her navel on television; how times have changed).

Edward Feser said...

Brandon, you are a mind-reader. I was wondering "Who is the blonde chick? Got kind of an early 70's Florence Henderson hairstyle going on there..."

Edward Feser said...

...not to mention that Celentano, at least in his "cool teacher" get-up, has got a definite Night Shift-era Henry Winkler vibe...

Matthew said...

There are a number of videos on YouTube that add subtitles do this. As expected, most transcriptions are conflicting.

The Codgitator said...

I believe I heard a "take a chance" in there. "Hello... baby... take a chance"... not just how some pop sounded to Italians, but how it really sounded!

There is also this bit of comic 'eliminibberish' gold from Peter Sellars. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_y413H8JXtk

Bertrand Sagan said...

Dr. Feser,

I don't feel that your comments on eliminative materialism are as meritorious as you believe.

I can make a comment, "I am a man" and be quite true with my comment. I have empirical data points (i.e. my physical gender) and then I will have a brain state that corresponds with that empirical data that I gathered by using one of my sense faculties (vision).

If I am an eliminative materialist I can be very true with my comment regarding my gender. My statement "I am a man" is by no means tantamount to me saying "blah blah blah".

Anonymous said...

Bertrand Sagan,

Was writing that bunch of gibberish some meta-attempt to prove EM by way of cosmic irony? Or is it simply that you don't understand (or ""understand"", with extra eliminative scare quotes) what EM entails?

Bertrand Sagan said...

Okay - you guys laugh at my posts on the other thread and say I'm trolling, which is fine I could careless to argue against that.

Then I post a valid criticism here and you're just parrotting the "you speak gibberish" that was directed at my on the other thread.

Sorry, but this is a valid critique of what Dr. Feser is saying. My sensory input (eyes in this case) are perceiving empirical evidence and then my brain state allows me to make the conclusion "I am a male".
And, based off of my avenue to reach that statement, I am making a valid and true statement based off of eliminative materialist perspectives.

Edward Feser said...

Bertrand,

No offense, but here and elsewhere your posts just seem so inept that it is no wonder that people wonder whether you are joking. In this case, if EM is true, then -- as EM advocate Alex Rosenberg himself puts it in the article of his I've been discussing in several posts -- "there literally is no such thing as linguistic meaning." Hence, if EM is true, then "I am a male" has no meaning.

Anonymous said...

Bertrand,

I apologize for the caustic nature of my last comment. I honestly didn't know if you were joking, trolling, or simply didn't understand the eliminitavist's position.

Going by your handle, I'd guess you find comfort in the modern "skeptical" movement--and hey, just a few years back, I did as well. However, two books convinced me on a purely rational basis that the philosophical naturalism that fuels these so-called skeptics is not only mistaken, but incoherent. The first book was physicist Anthony Rizzi's "The Science Before Science"; the second, the good Professor Feser's "The Last Superstition". For a succinct, engaging, and ultimately compelling case against naturalism, you simply can't do better than the final two chapters of TLS. If you can spare the cover price, I highly recommend you pick up a copy. It might change your mind.

Anonymous said...

Bertrand,

If you aren't the parodic genius I take you to be, but are actually trying to make real sense, I have two pieces of advice for you:

1. Read more. Anything written in competent English will do. Your posts read like the products of a 7th grader, or perhaps a non-native speaker. If you want to be taken seriously, you should learn how to communicate. If English is not your first language, you should acknowledge that. Otherwise your linguistic ineptitude will be taken as a sign that you lack intelligence. If you are a native English speaker and simply haven't learned how to write very well, one way to improve is to read good writers. It will rub off at least a little.

2. Read John Searle's The Rediscovery of the Mind. Searle doesn't take religion or anything of that sort seriously, he thinks it's insane to be skeptical about whether or not the natural sciences tell us anything deeply relevant to metaphysics, and he also thinks that eliminative materialism (and all forms of what he considers materialism) is false. In other words, he's a convinced (even dogmatic) 'scientific naturalist' who rejects materialism in the philosophy of mind. It's well written, accessible, and nicely intermediate between an introductory work and a dense, technical work. If you haven't read his book or something equivalent, you have no business participating in arguments about the tenability of various forms of materialism in the philosophy of mind. You obviously don't understand what you're talking about; if you read Searle, you stand a chance of becoming minimally competent to participate in the discussion. Since you can be assured that his views aren't driven by some sort of irrational theological agenda, it ought to be a good choice for someone of your ideological persuasion.

Catchling said...

My EM perspective on human language is that it is simply an extreme on the continuum of a natural phenomenon, rooted in biology, called language. Is a non-EM view (such as dualism) required for a dog's bark to have meaning? What about a bee's dance, driven purely by instinct?

Perhaps (although I have no settled opinion on this) the words we type don't have some ephemeral quality called "meaning" — why should that prevent us from interpreting them as though they did? I don't think there is anything more to a pizza than the physical combination of its ingredients, yet somehow, once I take a bite, I experience something called "flavor". Is dualism required for this to happen?

I just typed all that, looked up EM, and discovered I'm not one. (I belief in lots of metaphysical things, even souls, just nothing supernatural). Nonetheless, I didn't want all that to go to waste, and I don't care if it embarrasses me. So there. :)

Ilíon said...

"If eliminative materialism were true, then none of our utterances would have any meaning. There would be no difference between even learned philosophical discourse and mere gibberish."

Further, if the meaning of our utterances adhered to the utterances themselves (as must be the case were 'materialism' true), then there could be only *one* language in all the world.

Ilíon said...

Anonymous: "From the EM perspective, as crazy and self-refuting as it is, wouldn't people talking about "beliefs" and "purpose" and "desires" and other mental/teleological concepts be... supernaturalists?"

If naturalism were the truth about the nature of the physical world, and thus "the natural" must be understood/defined in terms of naturalism, then, eo ipso, all minds are "supernatural;' for naturalism cannot, even in principle, account for minds. To paraphrase CS Lewis, minds cannot be fitted into the box of naturalism.

Ilíon said...

When I was a small kid, sometimes my mind would "slip" momentarily and the words I'd hear (especially if they were coming from a TV in a different room) would sound like the pseudo-English in that video.