when the sun is also the moon

February 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’m not talking here about the old proper names carry on in philosophy …. you’ll have to go to another blog to read about this:

Frege puts the distinction to work in solving a puzzle concerning identity claims. If we consider the two claims:

(1) the morning star = the morning star

(2) the morning star = the evening star

The first appears to be a trivial case of the law of self-identity, knowable a priori, while the second seems to be something that was discovered a posteriori by astronomers. However, if “the morning star” means the same thing as “the evening star”, then the two statements themselves would also seem to have the same meaning, both involving a thing’s relation of identity to itself. However, it then becomes to difficult to explain why (2) seems informative while (1) does not. Frege’s response to this puzzle, given the distinction between sense and reference, should be apparent. Because the reference of “the evening star” and “the morning star” is the same, both statements are true in virtue of the same object’s relation of identity to itself. However, because the senses of these expressions are different–in (1) the object is presented the same way twice, and in (2) it is presented in two different ways–it is informative to learn of (2). While the truth of an identity statement involves only the references of the component expressions, the informativity of such statements involves additionally the way in which those references are determined, i.e. the senses of the component expressions.


yada yada yada

I’m actually talking more about fish.
This fish

This is an ocean sunfish … in the English speaking world. In Maaori its called raataahuihui. Under the Linneaen system of naming organism, it’s mola mola, of the molidae family. Mola is latin for millstone and the name is suggestive of the round shape of the body of the fish. You might think that the reference to the sun in the English common name is also due to its shape. The German speakers among us, however, do not see the sun when they look at mola mola, the see the moon: Mondfisch, and speakers of other European languages seem to concur that the fish is moon-ish. Sources give such forms as riba luna for Russian, poisson lune, French. Its pale roundness might be the source of this nomenclature, but the fact that it is round and looks like it is a head with tail, gives us its Polish name, ‘head alone’, and this seems to translate to an alternative German name, Schwimmenden Kopf, ‘swimming head.  I’m not sure I believe the reference to the Chinese name, ‘toppled car fish’  our Chinese staff suggested flipped over car, is a better translation mentioned in multiple internet sources (Surely fishingfolk encountered the fish before the invention of cars!).  But the pale roundness of the fish might give us a clue as to the English name. Labelled by some as a lazy swimmer, sunfish like to lay about just under the surface of the water, taking in the rays of the sun, so it seems, hence moonfish sun themselves.


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