[Buddha-l] Re: Can an Air Force cadet have Buddha nature?

Richard Nance richard.nance at gmail.com
Thu May 19 09:01:26 MDT 2005

On 5/18/05, Richard P. Hayes <rhayes at unm.edu> wrote:

> On Thu, 2005-05-19 at 06:37 +0700, Randall Jones wrote:
> > Might we take a moment to consider the vast difference between an author's
> > intention and the meaning of his or her words
> I can't imagine that any saying has any meaning at all aside from what
> its author intended. Please fill us in on what you mean by your words.

I'm not sure what Randall meant, but there's surely a difference to be
drawn between what a speaker intends in saying p and what p means.
(This difference is obscured in English by the fact that "mean" can be
used in both cases.)  This is brought out most forcefully in the case
of ambiguous expressions. On hearing "Bill was dry and went to the
bank," I may not know what its speaker intended to say.  Did she mean
that Bill was financially tapped out and therefore went to make a
withdrawal from a financial institution? Did she mean that Bill had
finished towelling off, and then just happened to go make a withdrawal
from a financial institution? Did she mean that Bill was thirsty, and
went down to the riverbank to have a drink? Etc. In such a case, I may
not know what the *speaker* meant by her words. But this isn't to say
that I don't know what the *words* the speaker uses *mean* (as a
competent speaker of English, I can be expected to possess that
knowledge).  That is, I won't be completely at a loss as to what the
words might have been used, on a particular occasion of speaking or
writing, to express.

(By the way, very little has been written on the way that the above
ideas might impact the notion that we infer vivak.saas from utterances
-- but the impact is considerable. If you want me to send you a
lengthy (and as yet unpublished) treatment I've written on the
subject, let me know; I'd love to have your comments on the piece (an
earlier version of which constituted the first chapter of my doctoral

Best wishes,

R. Nance

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