Thursday, 31 May 2018

John Bateman On Existence

With respect to the existence of this and that (or non-existence), etc., I often have the feeling that these discussions are just ways of detracting away from the main business of work (that is, when they occur in linguistics dis[c]ussions rather than in philosophy). There are certain places where a certain consensus can be found (philosophically), although there are of course always discussions and debate (that is the usual business of philosophy after all). It seems of limited use to put those debates at the centre of discussion when we discuss linguistic method, even though the texts that are thereby produced might sound deep.

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, ideationally, 'existence' and 'non-existence' are construals of experience as processes of 'being', reconstrued metaphorically as things.  Interpersonally, propositions that predicate what does or doesn't exist are assessed as valid or invalid according to the criteria that are held to be valid in a given cultural context.  For example, much of what is deemed valid in science (systematic knowledge) is not deemed valid in fundamentalist religion (literal readings of mythic metaphors).

Because the field of philosophy is realised in language, the SFL model of language can be used to reconstrue the meanings of philosophy in terms of the metalanguage.  See, for example, any of the reconstruals of philosophy (or science or mythology) through SFL theory at Informing Thoughts.

[2] To be clear, it is Bateman himself who is most responsible for raising questions of existence in Sysfling discussions, and so it is Bateman himself who is most responsible for the distractions away from what he defines for us as 'the main business of work', and so, for producing the texts that "might sound deep"; see

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

David Rose Claiming That Martin's Stratified Model Of Context Is "Justifiable"

It may be possible that SFL itself is a metaphysical theory that facilitates empirical research. That might explain why it accommodates competing incommensurate models of stratification, if each is justifiable but not falsifiable??
I think sorting out the nature of our theory must be part of it, particularly our competing models of stratification. I’m interested in how a purportedly empirical theory can produce and sustain such incommensurate models. My suggestion was influenced by Popper’s that "Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research program—a possible framework for testable scientific theories.”

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is misleading because it presents a view that Popper recanted as if it were Popper's final view on the matter.  To be clear, Popper (1978: 344-6) admitted his error in characterising Darwin's theory of Natural Selection as metaphysical:
The fact that the theory of natural selection is difficult to test has led some people, anti-Darwinists and even some great Darwinists, to claim that it is a tautology. . . . I mention this problem because I too belong among the culprits. Influenced by what these authorities say, I have in the past described the theory as "almost tautological," and I have tried to explain how the theory of natural selection could be untestable (as is a tautology) and yet of great scientific interest. My solution was that the doctrine of natural selection is a most successful metaphysical research programme. …
I have changed my mind about the testability and logical status of the theory of natural selection; and I am glad to have an opportunity to make a recantation. …
The theory of natural selection may be so formulated that it is far from tautological. In this case it is not only testable, but it turns out to be not strictly universally true. There seem to be exceptions, as with so many biological theories; and considering the random character of the variations on which natural selection operates, the occurrence of exceptions is not surprising.

Popper, K. R. 1978. "Natural Selection and the Emergence of Mind." Dialectica, 32:339-355.

[2] To be clear, the "two incommensurate models of stratification" in Rose's competition are the two different models of context: Halliday's versus Martin's.  However, "sorting out the nature of our theory" won't explain why these two models are both "accommodated" — simply because it is not the theory that accommodates both of them, but the SFL community.

[3] This is misleading because it is demonstrably untrue.  Both models are falsifiable, at least in terms of self-consistency, and moreover, at least one of them, Martin's, is falsified by this criterion, and so: not justifiable.

Put most simply, Martin models varieties of language, genres and registers, not as language, but as more abstract than language.  This is analogous to claiming that varieties of bird, such as penguins and emus, are not birds at all, but something more abstract than birds.

More technically, Martin's model misinterprets the instantiation relation between language and register/genre as a realisation relation (symbolic abstraction) in which genre (text type) is more abstract than register, and both more abstract than language.

The number of inconsistencies escalates when Martin's stratification hierarchy is cross-classified with the cline of instantiation — the most obvious consequence being that instances of genres and registers are, by definition, instances of context, not language.

For more detailed arguments that identify some the theoretical misunderstandings on which Martin's model is based, and explain why the model is invalidated by its own internal inconsistencies, see here (stratification), here (context), here (register), and here (genre).

See also:

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

John Bateman On Instantiations Of Theory And Peircean Semiotics

I think predictions/hypotheses have to have a different status to observations, and I think the suggestion of a cline between full (prediction) and partial (observation) loses important aspects, although that is part of what is going on. Presumably it is the status that these representations within some discourse of doing science that makes a big difference. Certainly very meta. 
So all together, perhaps indeed Peirce might help a bit. When we are making observations (and describing them) we are making use of instantiations of the theory (using those instantiations as a resource to impose sense). And that does not mean that observations are then 'just' instant[i]ations of theory as if that defined what observations are. 
So at first glance I like your object : representamen : interpretant ~ data : description : observation proposal...

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear — given the strategically omitted word here 'instantiation' — Bateman previously claimed (here) that both predictions and observations are partial instantiations of theory, while simultaneously asserting that the relationship between observation and theory is not one of instantiation.

[2] To be clear, since an instance of theory is an actual theory, rather than an observation or prediction, this is not "part of what is going on".

[3] It is worth pointing out here that this statement is consistent with the notion of instantiation, since instantiations of theory — that is, actual linguistic theories — are used in observations about, and descriptions of, language.

[4] As previously explained here, these proportionalities are invalid, since they misconstrue an observation as the meaning or ramification of a description.

Monday, 28 May 2018

David Rose On "Co-Instantiation" And Peircean Semiotics

At any rate, I’m certain that any semiotic instance is a co-instantiation of many systems at multiple strata 
And that any observation co-instantiates multiple theories, more or less consciously …
Could Peirce help us here, if data were his object, observation the interpretant, and description the representamen?

Blogger Comments:

[1] With the term "co-instantiation", Rose follows Martin in confusing the distinct dimensions of instantiation and stratification.  In SFL theory, instantiation is a token-to-type (attributive) relation between an instance and the system of which it is an instance.  This necessarily locates both the instance and the system on the same stratum.  The relation between (instances of systems across) strata is realisation, a token–value (identifying) relation. 

[2] Since an observation is not an instance of theory (potential) — see the earlier post — it does not "co-instantiate" multiple theories.

[3] This mapping of categories is invalid, if only because it misconstrues an observation as the meaning or ramification of a description.  In Peircean semiotics:
An interpretant (or interpretant sign) is the sign's more or less clarified meaning or ramification, a kind of form or idea of the difference which the sign's being true or undeceptive would make.
sign (or representamen) represents, in the broadest possible sense of "represents". It is something interpretable as saying something about something. It is not necessarily symbolic, linguistic, or artificial.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

John Bateman On Facts

And back to Ed's mention of 'facts'. The only facts I can think of would be theorems that are mathematically proved to hold; and since we are not doing math on this list we don't have many of those to deal with. It's like the phrase that you have to keep correcting in student texts when they suggest that they have 'proved the hypothesis', which is logically impossible. 'Facts' in a more everyday sense can only be descriptions of the world for which we assume indexicality to hold. And as a discourse assumption that must always be defeasible.
Has this all be done in systemic terms somewhere? 

Should be in any case...

Blogger Comments:

[1] In SFL theory, a fact is a pre-projected clause, typically functioning as a participant in a relational clause; see Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 547, 549).  The interpersonal function of wording a projection as a fact — instead of a locution or idea — is to render the validity of its proposition unarguable.  For example, if the fact serves as the Subject of a clause, only the validity of what is predicated of the fact is arguable, not the fact itself.

In the field of philosophy of science, facts constitute the data (e.g. biological evolution) on which theories (e.g. natural selection) are constructed.  That is, facts are the linguistic meanings that are reconstrued as theory.

[2] To be clear, here Bateman's orientation towards meaning is inconsistent with that embodied in SFL theory.  The notion of indexicality, in this context, assumes the transcendent view: that meaning also exists outside semiotic systems, for example as physical objects or concepts; this is the orientation of the logico-philosophical tradition.  SFL, on the other hand, takes the immanent view: that meaning is a property of semiotic systems only, construed of experience and enacted intersubjectively; this is consistent with the orientation of the rhetorical-ethnographic tradition.  See Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 416).

Saturday, 26 May 2018

John Bateman On What Is And Isn't An Instantiation Of Theory

Now, observations are not instantiations of theory; they cannot be, otherwise we could only observe what our theory says. And thus we could not observe anything which did not conform to theory: this may be the case with certain kinds of discourses that call themselves theory, but I have problems with those. [another topic!] 
I would suggest (discussion sought) that instantiations of theory are *hypotheses*, that is, they are descriptions of how the world would be given the theory
Observations are then distinct from that, since they aim to listen to how the world actually is rather than how the theory says it is
Observations are, however, never divorced from theory, since theory gives us the basis for making observations: the relation just cannot be (simply) one of instantiation
So, observations must be partial instantiations of theory in the sense that they are what you get when you take some phenomena and construe those phenomena drawing on some partial instantiation of theory. The result is a description that relies on the theory without being a full instantiation (like a partially frozen idiom). Only then is it possible to find places where there is a lack of fit between what the theory predicts (its instantiations) and what was observed (construals/descriptions of data where the descriptions are partial instantiations of theory). One might be willing to drop certain parts of the theory more readily than others. This is then the practice of exploring and developing theory. …
This also provides further methodological and theoretical support for pursuing triangulation: since one can use descriptions of phenomena partially instantiating different theories to play off against one another. Single theories might not have sufficient resources for doing that. 
And back to David's:
His ‘weather and climate’ analogy for instantiation is an apt metaphor for the observation/theory relation in SF research.
I'd be hesitant about that, exactly because the relationship between observation and theory is not instantiation. So you can't get quite the same time-depth phenomena... 

Blogger Comments:

[1] On the question as to whether the relation between observation and theory is one of instantiation, Bateman writes:
  • observations are not instantiations of theory
  • the relation just cannot be (simply) one of instantiation
  • observations must be partial instantiations of theory
  • the relationship between observation and theory is not instantiation.

To be clear, a "partial instantiation" is instantiation, and so this is self-contradiction.  On the SFL model, an observation is an instance of observation potential, and an instance of theory potential is a theory.

[2] On the question as to what constitutes an instance of theory, Bateman writes:
  • instantiations of theory are *hypotheses
  • descriptions of how the world would be given the theory 
  • observations must be partial instantiations of theory 
  • what you get when you take some phenomena and construe those phenomena drawing on some partial instantiation of theory 
  • a description that relies on the theory without being a full instantiation 
  • what the theory predicts 
  • what was observed (construals/descriptions of data where the descriptions are partial instantiations of theory) 
  • descriptions of phenomena partially instantiating different theories.

To be clear, Bateman identifies instances of theory as theoretical predictions and descriptions of phenomena/data, the latter equated with both hypotheses and observations.  Even ignoring the differences between predictions, descriptions, hypotheses and observations, this contradicts his own claims that
  • observations are not instantiations of theory, and
  • observations are distinct from hypotheses/descriptions.

[3] To be clear, on the SFL model, "how the world actually is" is itself a construal of experience as meaning, either through language (first-order meaning), or through the re-construals of linguistic meaning as theory (second-order meaning).

Friday, 25 May 2018

David Rose On Different "Takes" On The Theory

David Rose replied to himself on sysfling list on 13 May 2018 at 13:51:
PS Re our take on the theory 
Robert’s story also highlighted how our different takes are shaped by who trained us and when. Himself by MAKH when it was still a bunch of notes. Myself by Xian and Jim with 1st IFG as textbook while theirs were still photocopies. Others were trained by Robin Fawcett or his students, whom MAKH trained in the 60s, in early stages of the theory. Others by Ruqaiya and colleagues and many more. 
If only these discussions would involve more diverse experiences of its evolution, as well as the same old wrinklies correcting each other ;-)

Blogger Comments:

The implication here, that any take on the theory is as good as another, is an example of the anti-intellectualism identified by Asimov:

Thursday, 24 May 2018

David Rose On Observations As Instances Of Theory

[Halliday's] ‘weather and climate’ analogy for instantiation is an apt metaphor for the observation/theory relation in SF research. Unquestionably the theory shapes observations, and observations change the theory, but over 60 years the shape of change has been continual refinement and expansion of its description of semiosis.
Absolutely, observations instantiate the theory (or at least our take on it). The line I have trouble with is between theory and description, since SFL purports to mimic its object of description.

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, in SFL theory, an instance of a theory is an instance of a higher-level socio-semiotic system that is realised in language.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 605):
Socio-semiotic systems that are realised through language. This category corresponds to Hjelmslev's (1943) concept of a "connotative semiotic": a higher-level system that has language as its plane of expression. These include theories: every theoretical construction, scientific, philosophical, aesthetic, and so on, is a higher-level semiotic realised in language.
On the SFL model, an instance of theory potential is, by definition, an actual theory, whereas an actual observation is, by definition, an instance of observation potential — both at the level of context.

[2] Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 55) provide a useful distinction between theory and description:
While a description is an account of the system of a particular language, a theory is an account of language in general. So we have descriptions of various languages such as English, Akan and Nahuatl; but we have a theory of human language in general (see e.g. Halliday, 1992e, 1996; Matthiessen & Nesbitt, 1996).
[3] Here Rose confuses the relation between theory and description with the relation between theory and data ("its object of description").  Linguistic theory "mimics" language in the sense that linguistic theory is language about language, metalanguage, or, in the words of Firth (1957: 190): 'language turned back on itself'.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

David Rose On Popper, Socrates, Einstein, Halliday, Marx, Hegel, Empiricism And "Materialist Dialectics"

Popper didn’t invent falsifiability, just described it. The idea goes back at least to Socrates. Einstein is supposed to have said, "No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” It is the essence of dialectics’ thesis-antithesis method. It is what you are offering here, Ed. 
It was also central to the practice of that great dialectical thinker, Michael Halliday, as Robert Spence recounted for us, "Michael, having once lost an argument on this and therefore being rather cautious about it”. Halliday gave us the method for empirically describing semiotic systems that became SFL. 
He belonged to a very long and diverse tradition of applying empiricism to semiosis, but he devised a particularly powerful method that deployed materialist dialectics, to explain language systems in terms of social functions. He turned idealist lx argumentation on its head, as Marx did for Hegel.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Here Rose confuses the falsifiability of Popper's Falsificationism with the Socratic method.
The concept of falsifiability was introduced by the philosopher of science Karl Popper, in his exposition of scientific epistemology. He saw falsifiability as the criterion for demarcating the limits of scientific inquiry. He proposed that statements and theories that are not falsifiable are unscientific. Declaring an unfalsifiable theory to be scientific would then be pseudoscience.
[2] Here Rose confuses his confusion of the falsifiability of Popper's Falsificationism and the Socratic method with Kant's thesis/antithesis dyad, itself mistaken for Fichte's triad of thesis/antithesis/synthesis in Hegelian dialectics

[3] Here Rose provides what he understands as an example of (Kant's) "thesis-antithesis method": losing an argument and becoming more cautious on the matter.

[4] The word "empirically" here is redundant. Halliday designed a theory that could be used to describe language and other semiotic systems.  To be clear:
Empiricism in the philosophy of science emphasises evidence, especially as discovered in experiments. It is a fundamental part of the scientific method that all hypotheses and theories must be tested against observations of the natural world rather than resting solely on a priori reasoning, intuition, or revelation.
[5] Here Rose confuses a purported type of dialectic (materialist) with a type of materialism (dialectical), and falsely attributes the dialectic method to Halliday in his approach to theorising.  To be clear:
Dialectical materialism adapts the Hegelian dialectic for traditional materialism, which examines the subjects of the world in relation to each other within a dynamic, evolutionary environment, in contrast to metaphysical materialism, which examines parts of the world within a static, isolated environment.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Tom Bartlett On Interstratal Tension

Exactly - if I understand you right you are saying that like elements at the semantic stratum can be combined and this can result in dissimilar elements being coordinated at the LG stratum if these dissimilar elements realise the 'same' semantic function. So, grammatically we have different ranks being coordinated but for good semantic reasons - just another example of interstratal tension. That would be exactly my opening gambit.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Bartlett's proposal is that SFL theory would be improved if paratactic extension is held to obtain between units of different ranks. Apart from the misunderstandings involved — identified here and here — such a proposal creates theoretical inconsistencies with regard to both constituency and complexing.

[2] 'Interstratal tension' is Martin's characterisation of grammatical metaphor.  None of the examples provided by Bartlett involves grammatical metaphor.

Monday, 21 May 2018

David Rose On Register And Discourse Semantics

David Rose replied to Tom Bartlett on sysfling on 11 May 2018 at 16:15:
Iterated activity is a register level meaning, that may be realised in discourse semantics as an event sequence, or as one event x quality, that may be realised in grammar as a clause complex and clause simplex respectively.

Blogger Comments:

The series of propositions declared by Rose can be represented as follows:

iterated activity
↘ discourse semantics
↘ event sequence
↘ event x quality
↘ lexicogrammar
↘ clause complex
↘ clause

[1] 'Iterated activity' is a rebranding of 'activity sequence', a term which Martin (1992: 537) adapted from Barthes' (1966/1977) notion of 'sequence' in narrative, and misunderstood as an ideational unit of context, field, itself misunderstood as a dimension of register.  For some of the theoretical inconsistencies in Martin's notion of activity sequence, see any of the 48 clarifying critiques here.

[2] Within and without SFL theory, a 'register' is a functional variety of language.  In SFL theory, register is modelled as a point of variation on the cline of instantiation.  Here Rose follows Martin (1992) in misconstruing register as a level of context rather than as a sub-potential of language (that realises a cultural situation type).  For reasons why register, as something less general than language, is not coherently modelled as something more abstract than language, see some of the 82 clarifying critiques here.

[3] Here Rose is following Martin's (1992) misunderstanding of the SFL stratification hierarchy as 'all strata make meaning' (which is a characterisation of semogenesis, not stratification).  For Martin, strata are 'interacting modules of meaning', whereas, in SFL, the theoretical function of the dimension of stratification is to parcel out semiotic complexity into distinct levels of symbolic abstraction, in language: meaning (semantics), wording (lexicogrammar) and sounding/writing (phonology/graphology).

In SFL theory, meaning at the level of context is not linguistic meaning.  The stratum 'context' constitutes meaning in the sense of the culture as content, with language as its expression plane.  The meaning of register, on the other hand, is linguistic meaning; it constitutes the sub-potential of the semantic stratum that realises a sub-potential of the culture (a situation type).

[4] Here Rose is following Martin (1992) in misconstruing the relation between register and semantics as one of symbolic abstraction ('realisation'); see [2] above.

[5] The term 'event sequence' does not figure in the discourse semantic model of Martin (1992), and in Martin & Rose (2007: 267), it is located in field (context), misconstrued as register.  Here, however, Rose locates 'event sequence' in discourse semantics.  In SFL theory, 'sequence' is the highest order of phenomena in ideational semantics; see Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 104-27).

[6] In Martin (1992: 317), 'Event x Quality' is presented as the discourse semantics of the experiential grammar of the verbal group.  Here Rose misrepresents the structural relation as the discourse semantic counterpart of the clause.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

David Rose On Coordination And Proposition

David Rose replied to Tom Bartlett on sysfling on 11 May 2018 at 16:15:
Coordination is a grammatical term, for relations between grammatical units. Proposition is a discourse semantic term, for messages exchanging information.

Blogger Comments:
[1] To be clear, in SFL theory, the traditional category of 'coordination' is interpreted as the logico-semantic relation of paratactic extension.  Logico-semantic relations obtain at the level of semantics (meaning) and are realised at the level of lexicogrammar (wording).

[2] To be clear, in SFL theory, 'proposition' is 'the semantic function of a clause in the exchange of information' (Halliday & Matthiessen 2014: 139).  The intrusion of the word 'discourse' reflects the fact that Martin (1992) rebranded Halliday's interpersonal semantic system as a 'discourse semantic' system.  ('Message' is a semantic unit of the textual metafunction.)

Saturday, 19 May 2018

David Rose Misconstruing What Constitutes A "Stratified Account"

David Rose replied to Tom Bartlett on sysfling on 11 May 2018 at 16:15:
We could say their meanings are similar (iterated activity), but at what stratum? A stratified account allows for the proportions you have observed, without having to undo rank as the entry point for grammatical systems. 

Blogger Comments:

[1] In SFL theory, linguistic meaning is modelled at the level of semantics.  Here Rose follows Martin (1992: 21, 40, 55, 56, 96, 137) in confusing semogenesis ("all strata make meaning") with stratification (meaning–wording–sounding).  See, for example, the clarifying critiques here, here, here, here or here.

[2] In SFL theory, strata represent different levels along the dimension of symbolic abstraction.  Here Rose's notion of what constitutes a "stratified account" follows Martin (1992: 129, 390, 391, 392, 488, 490-1) in misconstruing strata as "interacting modules" of meaning, to which theoretical categories can be allocated, without regard for the level of symbolic abstraction.  See, for example, the clarifying critiques hereherehere or here.  Halliday & Webster (2009: 231):
In SFL language is described, or “modelled”, in terms of several dimensions, or parameters, which taken together define the “architecture” of language. These are 
  • (i) the hierarchy of strata (context, semantics, lexicogrammar, phonology, phonetics; related by realisation); 
  • (ii) the hierarchy of rank (e.g. clause, phrase/group, word, morpheme; related by composition); 
  • (iii) the cline of instantiation (system to instance); 
  • (iv) the cline of delicacy (least delicate to most delicate, or grossest to finest); 
  • (v) the opposition of axis (paradigmatic and syntagmatic); 
  • (vi) the organisation by metafunction (ideational (experiential, logical), interpersonal, textual).

Friday, 18 May 2018

Tom Bartlett Confusing Ranks And Taking A Formal Perspective

Introducing another problem, … what can we do with "or" coordination?
He went to the shops on Thursdays or Fridays
I want a red or blue dress
These events can by definition not be conjuncts, so would we have to say that whenever we have OR we have conjunction of whole elliptical clauses?

Blogger Comments:

[1] In SFL theory, 'X or Y' is the logico-semantic relation of extension: alternation (Halliday & Matthiessen 2014: 471).

[2] The logico-semantic relations in these instances do not obtain at clause rank, and for this reason, do not imply clause ellipsis.  In the first clause, Thursdays or Fridays is a word complex realising the Thing of a nominal group:

to the shops
on Thursdays or Fridays
Process: material
Location: spatial: motion
Location: temporal: rest

prepostional phrase
Thursdays or Fridays
nominal group
Thursdays or Fridays

In the second clause, red or blue is a word complex realising the Epithet of a nominal group:

a red or blue dress
Process: mental

nominal group
red or blue

[3] This again demonstrates that Bartlett is taking a formal rather than functional perspective on the grammar — as previously noted here — since he is concerned with assigning functions to forms, rather than assigning forms to functions.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

John Bateman Denying The Existence Of Accessible Data

since 'data' does not (accessibly) exist, but is only filtered through observations operationalized according to frames of interpretations (including measurements), will/can/should one always know
(a) that the data fails to fit the theory and
(b) that the particular construction of the data is not what needs changing rather than the 'theory'?

Blogger Comments:

does not

[1] To be clear, here Bateman locates 'data' outside language; that is: as the experience that is construed as meaning by language.  On the SFL model, the data to be modelled as linguistic theory are the construals of experience as language.

[2] To be clear, testing the fit between data and theory is testing the fit between 
  • construals of experience as language and 
  • construals of language as linguistic theory.

[3] To be clear, a "particular construction of the data" is a construal of language in terms of a linguistic theory.  If the theory is inaccurately applied to the data, then it is the "particular construction of the data" that needs changing.  If an accurate application of the theory to the data reveals a shortcoming in the theory, then it is the theory that needs changing.

For an analysis of a previous example of Bateman's epistemology, see John Bateman Denying The Existence Of Text.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

David Rose Endorsing Tom Bartlett's Misunderstandings

So your description derived from observed proportionalities. It resonates with the topological description of logico-semantic relations across ranks and strata in IFG.

As a typological description it conflicts with long-standing descriptions of complexing co-selected with systems at each rank. That is, rank is the entry condition for all grammatical systems, and units at each rank may be complexed.

That description involves a very large set of empirically tested proportionalities. They are all inherently falsifiable, but would take a lot of labour to do so. So Ockham’s Razor suggests your proportionalities may be of another kind
very fruitful example, thanks Tom

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is misleading.  As demonstrated in the previous post, Bartlett's analysis did not derive from "observed" proportionalities, but from theoretical confusion, and from taking a formal, rather than functional, perspective on the grammar.

[2] Trivially, this is doubly misleading, since, on the one hand, there are no topological descriptions of logico-semantic relations (expansion and projection) in any of the four editions of IFG, and on the other hand, logico-semantic relations are only applied there to the one stratum, lexicogrammar.

[3] Here Rose misunderstands and misapplies the meaning of Occam's Razor:
Occam's razor (also Ockham's razor or Ocham's razor; Latin: lex parsimoniae "law of parsimony") is the problem-solving principle that, when presented with competing hypothetical answers to a problem, one should select the answer that makes the fewest assumptions.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Tom Bartlett Advocating Theoretical Inconsistencies

When I produced data showing Circumstances could be coordinated with hypotactic clauses and nominal groups with projections the response was to falsify the data and to add missing features a la TG so that the theoretical tenet that only like elements can be subordinated was upheld at all costs.
I told the list the problem and that there was a need to solve it on various occasions and when it took my fancy.
To give examples of both : )

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, a circumstance is a class of element of function structure at clause rank, whereas a hypotactic clause is a class of form.  In SFL theory, co-ordination is the relation of paratactic extension that obtains between units of form at the same rank.

On the one hand, Bartlett confuses function with form; that is, he confuses two distinct levels of symbolic abstraction.

On the other hand, if the co-ordination is held to obtain between a clause and the formal realisation of circumstances, as a prepositional phrase or adverbial or nominal group, then Bartlett confuses clause rank with group/phrase rank; that is, he confuses two distinct levels of composition.

[2] To be clear, a nominal group and a projected clause are distinct levels on the rank scale.  The confusion is again one of level of composition.

[3] In SFL, such phenomena are accounted for by the cohesive system of ellipsis (Bartlett's "missing features").  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 635):
Ellipsis marks the textual status of continuous information within a certain grammatical structure. At the same time, the non-ellipsed elements of that structure are given the status of being contrastive in the environment of continuous information. Ellipsis thus assigns differential prominence to the elements of a structure: if they are non-prominent (continuous), they are ellipsed; if they are prominent (contrastive), they are present. The absence of elements through ellipsis is an iconic realisation of lack of prominence.
[4] To be clear, proposed theoretical changes that arise from theoretical misunderstandings and result in theoretical inconsistencies do not improve the explanatory power of a theory.  The larger problem here is that Bartlett is taking a syntactic perspective, which is the opposite of that from which SFL was theorised, as Halliday (1994: xiv) explains:

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Jim Martin Strategically Confusing 'Polemic' With 'Critique'

“Perhaps, someday, a long history will have to be written of polemics, polemics as a parasitic figure on discussion and an obstacle to the search for truth. Very schematically, it seems to me that we can recognize the presence in polemics of three models: the religious model, the judiciary model, and the political model. As in heresiology, polemics sets itself the task of determining the intangible point of dogma, the fundamental and necessary principle that the adversary has neglected, ignored, or transgressed; and it denounces this negligence as a moral failing; at the root of the error, it finds passions, desire, interest, a whole series of weaknesses and inadmissable [sic] attachments that establish it as culpable. As in judiciary practice, polemics allows for no possibility of an equal discussion: it examines a case; it isn't dealing with an interlocutor, it is processing a suspect; it collects the proofs of his guilt, designates the infraction he has committed, and pronounces the verdict and sentences him. In any case, what we have here is not on the order of a shared investigation; the polemicist tells the truth in the form of his judgement and by virtue of the authority he has conferred on himself. But it is the political model that is the most powerful today. Polemics defines alliances, recruits partisans, unites interests or opinions, represents a party; it establishes the other as an enemy, an upholder of opposed interests, against which one must fight until the moment this enemy is defeated or either surrenders or disappears.
Of course, the reactivation, in polemics, of these political, judiciary, or religious practices is nothing more than theatre. One gesticulates: anathemas, excommunications, condemnations, battles, victories, and defeats are no more than ways of speaking, after all. And yet, in the order of discourse, they are also ways of acting, which are not without consequence. There are the sterilizing effects: Has anyone ever seen a new idea come out of a polemic? And how could it be otherwise, given that here the interlocutors are incited, not to advance, not to take more and more risks in what they say, but to fall back continually on the rights they claim, on their legitimacy, which they must defend, and on the affirmation of their innocence? There is something even more serious here: in this comedy, one mimics wars, battles, annihilations, or unconditional surrenders, putting forward as much of one's killer instinct as possible. But it is really dangerous to make anyone believe that he can gain access to truth by such paths, and thus to validate, even if in merely symbolic form, the real political practices that could be warranted by it. Let is imagine, for a moment, that a magic wand is waved and one of the two adversaries in a polemic is given the ability to exercise all the power he likes over the other. One doesn't even have to imagine it: one has only to look at what happened during the debates in the USSR over linguistics and genetics not long ago. Were these merely aberrant deviations from what was supposed to be the correct discussion? Not at all: they were the real consequences of a polemic attitude whose effects ordinarily remain suspended.” [Foucault in Rabinow [Ed.] 1984: 382-383]
Rabinow, P 1984 The Foucault Reader. Penguin.
We could perhaps rephrase Foucault’s question about the productivity of critique
‘What productive developments in SFL theory, description and/or practice have arisen from the critiques noted in the list discussion?’
And further, how might we weigh the value of these against the costs?

Blogger Comments:

[1] As previously noted here, this quote from Foucault is a polemic against polemics, made without a trace of self-irony.  (Martin previously posted the quote to the Sysfling list on 8 January 2016.)

[2] Here Martin misleads by strategically confusing polemic with critique.

[3] To be clear, the productivity of critiques of SFL theory depends on two general factors:
  • the validity of the critiques themselves, and
  • the willingness of academics to read, recognise and act on valid critiques.

[4] To be clear, the discussion of critiques of SFL occurred on the international list, Sysfling.  Here Martin has chosen instead to raise the issue on his local list, Sys-func.

[5] To be clear, valid critiques are essential for the development of any theory and the descriptions and practices it affords.  The more crucial question is: what is the cost of the absence of valid critiques to a theory and the descriptions and practices it affords.  What suffers?  Who benefits?

To kill an error is as good a service as, 
and sometimes even better than, 
the establishing of a new truth or fact.
— Charles Darwin

To free a person from error is to give, 
and not to take away.
— Arthur Schopenhauer

It is error only, 
and not truth, 
that shrinks from inquiry.
— Thomas Paine