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Old 01-05-2009, 09:40 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Web Rider View Post
Before there was "hard science" there was society, and we learned by trial and error much the same way. Mud is really dirty water. So dirty, that there is often more dirt than water. We apply these modifiers to words for social reasons, which can be just as much important to the truth as anything.
On this context, I'd be inclined to agree.

Originally Posted by Web Rider
So social definitions are important to truth. Imagine another race has massive oceans of Mercury, a liquid similar to dirty water. For them, it is drinkable, for us, it is not, yet their word for their semi-transparent, reflective and refractive drinkable liquid, translates to our "water". Yet, we do not describe the same scientific things, but we do describe the same social things.
Hm, very good point.

Originally Posted by Web Rider
Then you agree that in my hypothetical, humans won't die from drinking alien water which is actually mercury? I'd think that is a pretty good sign that social facts are important, and that "water" is only a random word assigned to a localized phenomenon.

But, within the context of the thread, would you say its absolutely true that a substance containing two parts hydrogen and one party oxygen exists on planet earth?

While the words we give this substance can radically effect the way we interact with it, it does not change its chemical composition. I cannot simply look at my computer, call it a Ferrari, then drive away.

For sake of argument, I'll stick to human American English for now. While the aliens may treat their sea of mercury like water, it does not change the fact that its chemical composition is that of mercury, mixed with things like various dirts and such. While our word of "water" will overlap with their word of water, drinking it, as you stated, would kill us.

Thus, as has been stated, the subjective factor within his does play a large roll in social truths. However, is it still not absolute truth to say that humans need "oxygen" to live, even though oxygen is interchangeable with water, to a fish, in language?
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