Here is a sentence from no less academic a source than a front- pagearticle in the Times Literary Supplement: "The Frenchman, Alfred Epinas,pointed out that certain species (e.g., ants and wasps) can only face thehorrors of life and death in association." I do not know what theFrenchman actually did say; what the Englishman says he said is patentlymeaningless. We cannot know whether life holds any horror for the ant,nor in what sense the isolated wasp which you kill upon the window-panecan be said to "face" or not to "face" the horrorsof death. The subject of the article is mass behavior in man; and the humanmotives have been unobtrusively transferred from the main proposition tothe supporting instance. Thus the argument, in effect, assumes what itset out to prove--a fact which would become immediately apparent if itwere presented in a formal syllogism. This is only a small and haphazardexample of a vice which pervades whole books--particularly books writtenby men of science on metaphysical subjects.
Three examples, all train-related (I suppose I spend a lot of time on trains): the new 7000 series DC Metro cars, the new MARC IV series coach cars, and the announcements at DC’s Union Station. None of these need to be synthesized. They’re all essentially announcing destinations – they have very limited vocabularies and don’t make use of the theoretical ability to say anything. Union Station’s robot occasionally announces delays and the like, but often announcements beyond the norm revert to a human. Metro and MARC trains only announce stops and have demonstrated no capacity for supplemental speech. Where old and new cars are paired, conductors/operators still need to make their own station stop announcements.
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