The Four-Foot-Long Cat

Begins: 10:40pm

The case of the four foot long cat although puzzling was/is still based on a perceived subject.  Puzzling properties of subjects are common.  However, there are cases where the subject itself causes problems.  Eco presents the infamous case of the sentence /The present King of France is bald/ that caused a semantic whirlwind around the subject that is still not settled.  He believes that it may help resolve the ‘problem of mentioning’ in semiotics. (p170)

The problems are threefold:

  1. /is bald/ can only have meaning if it is a description of a single object.
  2. /King of France/ is a cultural unit, not a person, and therefore it “can or cannot correspond to somebody who actually existed and who could continue to exist.”
  3. /present/ is a pointer and a pointer is a shifter.  /Present/ could be meaningful and true if used to mention a specific individual who is the King of France.  It suggests a ‘precise spatial environment’.

[OS Thesis Interrupted 11:10pm-11:50pm]

[SS So you could watch S2:E1 of House of Cards. Tut. Tut.]

The word /present/ in the notorious sentence in the example above forces the question: “What does it mean?” (p170)  It is ambiguous because of two semantic devices – 1/There is a King. 2/The king of France is bald.  Although /the present King of France is bald/ is “an example of a misuse of sign production”, it is a meaningful sentence if ‘considered as a mention.’   Without /present/ the sentence /the king of France is bald/ is simply useless, according to Eco: “The proof is that, when hearing it, people will ask: “which one?”, thus demanding an indexical circumstantial marker.” (p171)

[SS Pipped at the post.  Missed the marker.  Ran out of time.  More haste less speed.]

[OS What?]

[SS You should have had this post published yesterday.  It’s now two/2 minutes into today.  The present is now further away….]

Ends 12:02am

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