Philosophy Lexicon of Arguments

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Gavagai: fantasy word from a thought experiment of W.V.O. Quine. An expression (or fragment) of a completely foreign language is not unambiguously translatable into a known language, because it is not determined, whereupon the expression of the foreign language relates. Even pointing to an object does not create unambiguity. E.g. only a part or a property of the object can be referred to. See also translation, indeterminacy, translation manual, analytical hypothesis, uncertainty, reference, meaning.
 
Author Item Excerpt Meta data
Quine, Willard Van Orman
 
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Gavagai I 59ff
Gavagai: the totality of the sentences can be permuted so that verbal behavior remains, but correlation disappears - translation manuals can be internally consistent and mutually incompatible.
I stimulus 67: Gavagai: stimulus, not rabbits - (> forgery) - review by society.
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IV 425
GavagaiVs description myth.
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V 119
Reference/Gavagai/Quine: problem: we do not know whether the child who agrees to "red" also referred to red - Red: can be general term for set of red surfaces - or general term for any visible color spot - but not for parts of color spots - this does not allow abstraction - no problem: to realize that the reference is made to the mere presence of red - different translation manuals lead to different translations.
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VI 73
Gavagai/Quine: the translation vagueness in particular should not be shown with that, because the translation with "Look, a rabbit" is well secured - what it was about was that the reference is not determined by the translation. - Because "Gavagai" is a whole sentence, there was no compensation possibility - Reference/explanation: reference is explained by quote eradication "rabbit" refers to rabbit.
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XII 18
Gavagai/Quine: must neglect differences such as "There is a rabbit" and "Look, a rabbit" - no single term can be attributed, but only an entire sentence in which "rabbit" appears - do not assume objectification - even if the presence of rabbits is an expression condition, they might still be temporal stages or rabbit parts - not sufficient: to ask whether "an X is present" - solution: "the same x" - expression conditions not sufficient to know whether the stranger refers to an object - Solution: A-u-B at least acknowledgment for whole sentences.
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XII 47
Gavagai/Quine: Problem: a whole rabbit is given iff a non-severed part or a temporal stage is given.
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XII 48
Gavagai/color/color word/generic term/mass term/Quine: the big difference between "Rabbit" and "Sepia" is that "Sepia" is a mass term like "water" - "Rabbit" on the other hand, is a term of crushed reference. Therefore it cannot be dominated without individuation principle. One must know where one rabbit ends and another one begins - that does not work by pointing (ostension) - where does a Gavagai end and where does another one begin? - inextricably - ((s) Because Gavagai is not a mass term, that is important.) - Important argument: if you take the part of the universe, which consists of rabbits, it is identical to the part, which consists of un-severed rabbit parts and with the one that consists of temporal stages of rabbits - only difference: how to split it - ostension cannot teach that - pointing to a whole is always also pointing to its parts and vice versa.
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XII 50
Translation Manual: no solution: Problem: stage/part/rabbit: perhaps we always ask in a foreign language "Do they belong together?" instead of "Is it the same?" without knowing it.
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XII 51
Gavagai/Quine: behaviorist criterion: a stable, relatively homogeneous object against a background will probably be denoted by a relatively short term - but merely imposed on the foreign language - (yet reasonable hypothesis).
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XII 52
Gavagai/native tongue/part/whole/time stage/Quine: within our own language, we can distinguish between whole rabbits, rabbit parts and rabbit stages, because the apparatus of individuation (plural, pronoun, identity, quantification, etc.) is determined - when translating from another language, this itself is subject to indeterminacy.
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XII 53ff
Gavagai/Japanese/classifier/Quine: 1) numeral "5" 2) animal classifier 3) "Ox" - Explanation A: declined numeral of the genus "animal" (ox: individuative term, here for all cattle) - B: 3rd word here mass term "lifestock" (e.g. here only cattle) - Japanese: in both cases "five cattle" - German: both equally good translations - both fit into language behavior - reference (extension): different.

Q I
W.V.O. Quine
Wort und Gegenstand Stuttgart 1980

Q II
W.V.O. Quine
Theorien und Dinge Frankfurt 1985

Q III
W.V.O. Quine
Grundzüge der Logik Frankfurt 1978

Q IX
W.V.O. Quine
Mengenlehre und ihre Logik Wiesbaden 1967

Q V
W.V.O. Quine
Die Wurzeln der Referenz Frankfurt 1989

Q VI
W.V.O. Quine
Unterwegs zur Wahrheit Paderborn 1995

Q VII
W.V.O. Quine
From a logical point of view Cambridge, Mass. 1953

Q VIII
W.V.O. Quine
Bezeichnung und Referenz
In
Zur Philosophie der idealen Sprache, J. Sinnreich (Hg), München 1982

Q X
W.V.O. Quine
Philosophie der Logik Bamberg 2005

Q XII
W.V.O. Quine
Ontologische Relativität Frankfurt 2003


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2017-04-29