The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

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64                    THE HUMANITY OF WORDS
totality of the actual world, past, present, and future," as the logician Rudolf Carnap points out in his Meaning and Necessity, (page 29)
For practical purposes, we draw an arbitrary "line" around a single fact. Just so, we shall make a conventional distinction between a fact and an opinion. We shall say that a statement that can be verified by impersonal means is a statement of factor a true statementat that date.10 Ogden's and Richards' reference is, then, a statement of factand truewhen it can, indeed, be verified by impersonal means. The semantic procedure is, in such a case, to provide evidence of impersonal verification. And the matter is settled. Such verification is the difference between the public and private conception of truth.
What is an opinion?
The philosopher Mortimer J. Adler answers this question very well in Works of the Mind. "An opinion," he says, "is an act of the mind in which the will or the passions participate because the evidence is inadequate." (page 233)
There are some areas of experience in which we can have nothing but opinions, because, by the very nature of the subject matter, all of the evidence can never be in. Every time we make a statement about human beings, singly or in groups, we express an opinion. Every time we set up a program by which to accomplish a purpose, we express an opinion. For here we say // we do thus and so, these consequences are likely to ensue. But someone else may say No, it would be better to try this in order to attain those consequences. And yet another may say Try this. Not that. This is opinion because no one can knowwith cer-
10 Some recent writers use quotation marks around the words "fact" and "true** when it is necessary to remind the reader that they refer to a limited context and are relative to the state of knowledge at that date.