Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 15
'Tis a privilege to be having this disucssion and I truly appreciate the time and attention you are giving it--and giving to my book.
I am a fan of Steven Pinker's writings am also aware that the thesis that the association between signs and things is arbitrary has deep roots. Just looked again at the dictionary definition of 'arbitray' and came up with:
1. subject to individual will or judgment without restriction; contingent solely upon one's discretion: an arbitrary decision.
2. decided by a judge or arbiter rather than by a law or statute.
3. having unlimited power; uncontrolled or unrestricted by law; despotic; tyrannical: an arbitrary government.
4. capricious; unreasonable; unsupported: an arbitrary demand for payment.
5. Mathematics. undetermined; not assigned a specific value: an arbitrary constant.
Really don't think that any of these accurately apply. Also, the notion that the universe happens by virtue of randomness is certainly one way of looking at the world; but if that were really true, then we would need to question the phenomenon of meaning altogether. Another way of saying this is, by the extension of Pinker and Wang's thesis, that I married the one woman out of all the women in the world that I did is arbitray; I don't find that particularly appealing and certainly would not want to tell her that!!
Will comment on the "word sound" discussion seperately as this requires a little more time.