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Vladimir_Nesov comments on Sensual Experience - Less Wrong

13 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 21 December 2008 12:56AM

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Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 20 January 2013 06:12:14PM *  4 points [-]

Can you elaborate what you mean by 'object level'?

Someone asserts a confused statement whose meaning is unclear. An example of an "object level" response it to make up an interpretation for that statement with a particular meaning, and immediately engage that interpretation (for example, by giving an argument for modifying some of its details).

This has two immediate problems. First, the interpretation that you've made up isn't necessarily the intended one, and in fact no clear intended interpretation may exist, in the sense that the original statement wasn't constructed to communicate a clear idea, but was to a significant extent a confabulation. This may result in talking past each other, thinking of different things, and in simple cases may lead to an argument about definitions. Second, the fact that the original statement was confusing is itself significant and worthy of attention. It may mean that you lack knowledge of context or training necessary to interpret it, or that the person making the statement needs to improve their communication effort or skills, or that they need to think more carefully to make sure that there is an actual idea that is being described. These problems have little to do with the topic of discussion, hence "not object level".

(Even worse, an "object level response" may itself fail to reflect on any particular idea.)

Comment author: MugaSofer 21 January 2013 02:25:20PM *  -2 points [-]

On the other hand, asking for clarification or accusing the other party of talking confused nonsense bring their own problems.

I generally reply on the object level, but note that I'm unsure if I parsed their statement correctly, so they can clarify in their next comment if I misinterpreted.