- Nov 24, 2017
- Northern Ireland
- Basic Beliefs
That's not what was going on! Nobody was implying rs didn't believe mental illness objectively exists! We were trying to prove to rs that the definition rs was using is wrong.
A definition -- term T means M -- is a scientific theory to the effect that when people say T, the best explanation for the observation that they say T is the hypothesis that the sense they are trying to express is M. Looking for counterexamples is the way you test such a theory. If you find a counterexample, you've falsified the theory. When somebody says T means M, but there exists an X such that he says T(X) even though M(X) is false, that's empirical evidence against his theory of the meaning of T. Pointing out that contradiction is not an accusation that he believes M(X).
If "objective" really meant "not dependent on the mind for existence" then mental illness would not objectively exist. But when we point this out, far from assuming that using "mind independent" to describe objectivity indicates that the speaker believes mental illness doesn't objectively exist, we are assuming the exact opposite. We are assuming the speaker believes mental illness does objectively exist; more than that, we are counting on it. We are drawing his attention to the contradiction between simultaneously believing mental illness objectively exists, believing mental illness depends on the mind for existence, and believing "objective" really means "not dependent on the mind for existence", in the hope that the speaker will take note of the contradiction and discard the most dubious of those conflicting propositions: his theory about what the word means.
Understanding a word is like riding a bike. There are probably a hundred people who can ride a bike for every one who can explain why he doesn't fall off. If you ask the average person how he keeps his balance and he tells you how he thinks he does it, then you can take what he says, apply the laws of physics, and show that he'll fall off the bike. But if you do that, it doesn't mean you're accusing him of not being able to ride a bike. You're just disproving his theory about how he pulls off the remarkable feat.
When I said 'mind independent' I meant 'independent of thoughts and feelings about it'. It's that simple, and it's not an unusual usage.