"the ties between language and thought, on the one hand,
and external affairs, on the other, are so pervasive that no
aspect of thought as usually conceived is untouched. "
Donald Davidson, "Knowing One's own mind"
(Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective,
Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2001)
M. – Can it be that talking about different things we are using the same words?
W. – What do you mean?
M. – I mean exactly that: the same word, referring to different things.
W. – Can we listen to the same music, sitting for example side by side, or not, and feel different things?
M. – I guess that it’s exactly what I was trying to say.
W. – Can we look at the same person, watch the same sun and the same mountains and the same ocean and have different opinions about it all?
M. – We sure do. We do it all the time. But why are you just repeating what I say? Are you submitting me to a test?
W. – What is a test? What do you have in mind now? If I say yes it doesn’t prove that we are talking abut the same thing. The same word may have a meaning for me and another meaning for you. Depending on my intentions or on your intentions. Isn’t it what you are suggesting? I am learning with you.
M. – – Oh, darling, shut up, please. I am having enough problems already with my first question; don’t make it more difficult with your concerns. I am not thinking about any test in particular. I don’t need to test you, do I? You don't need to test me, do you?
W. – I was trying to help. I am sorry. Did I hurt your feelings? I apologize.
M. – Don’t even talk about feelings. Or, if you prefer, we can restart our discussion with just that word. What do you mean by feelings?
W. – What are you referring to when you talk about feelings?
M. – Hmm… Do you think we can explain what we mean, you and me, by feelings? I will not even try. Sure, we know that we are not talking about oranges and strawberries, about baseball or basketball. But what else do we know? Not much more.
W. – You ask the question knowing in advance that you cannot answer it?
M. – That’s how it is, mon amour. That’s how it works. Frequently the question is also the answer.