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My Future Will never Be Behind Me

Updated on March 29, 2014

Lifespan language game

Meaning in a language game

The question is: "When is your future behind you?"


To give an answer, let's be clear as to our approach.

First let us get into definitions. Let's use a graph, like so:
-3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3
Let's say -3 -2 -1 indicate "behind.",
0 indicates "present."
+1 +2 +3 indicate "future."
Let's say further that the distance between -3 and 0 is fixed and that the distance between 0 and +3 is fixed such that if 0 moves to the left -3 also moves to the left and the gap between -3 and 0 never closes up. Likewise, if 0 moves to the right +3 also moves to the right and the gap between 0 and +3 never closes up.

These definitions are fixed. That is, there is no play of words such that definitions change from one time to another or from one situation to another.

Let's say that 0 is me or me is I; that is, 0, me and I are identical and the same..
It is easy to see that if I move back (towards -3) -3 also moves back so that I can never reach -3. :Likewise, as I move forward (towards +3) +3 also moves forward so that I can never reach +3.

We say further that each number -3 to +3 represents an interval along Einstein's generalized theory of relativity. Not 'time" along Newton's theory as "time" does not indicate a real thing, only a convention. That is, each number represents a physical thing.

What we have done is the use of the language of mathematics and physics. Mathematics, in that number is used in counting; physics, in that a number represents an interval..
We said that there is no play of words. This is also shown in the graph: -3 is not convertible to 0 or to +3. Likewise, +3 is not convertible to 0 or to -3.

Now it is easy to see that the future is not behind; behind is not future.

Language game

We are involved in a language game, as Ludwig Wittgenstein, an Austrian philosopher, puts it.

We may use the above language game to analyze the comment:

"My future is behind me when I am dead."

We have already defined "behind" and "future." Let's define "dead" as a physical thing that is not moving. So even if it is not moving, the distance -3 to 0 and the distance 0 to +3 are still maintained. That is why the "future" does not go over to "behind."

Cleopatra had a "behind" as having married Mark Anthony. When she was killed by a snake and deposited inside a pyramid, she was designated as 0. Her dead body had a future: decay caused by bacteria. Therefore, physically, her decayed body cannot be reconstituted back to a live Cleopatra like when she lived with Mark Anthony.

I do not mean to be derogatory or disparaging. However, "My future is behind me when I am dead" has no meaning in the sense of a language game of mathematics and of physics.


Now we are introducing other words like "meaning." To the communications expert "meaning" is in the head of a person.

In the epistemology of Wittgenstein, "meaning" is what a word refers to. It starts with a fact, that is, anything in the universe that is undefined.

Wittgenstein said that to know meaning. you have to know the language game (Encyclopedia Britannica 2009).

For example, in chess:

1. P-K4; P-K4; 2. P-KR3; P-QR3.

These notations indicate moves in the game of chess. If you have not played a game of chess or if you have not familiarized yourself with the language of chess you most probably do not understand these notations. (Incidentally, i play chess.)

There is a language of basketball, a language of tennis, a language of football.

In tennis language, love means zero, that is, a tennis player has not scored. Did I get it right? Is "love" not "luv?"

In the language of chemistry or physics, "oxygen" is vague unless specified as singlet oxygen, or atomic oxygen, or molecular oxygen, or ozone

Albert Gore described himself as: "ex-future president" in the film "The Inconvenient Truth." i have a copy.

[Al Gore was a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 together with a thousand scientists around the world who were members of the International Panel on Climate Change. Three Filipinos were among co-winners. The above mentioned film also won a Nobel Prize.]

Al Gore was once vice president (to Bill Clinton) of USA who ran for the presidency opposite George Bush. He lost the election to Bush owing to alleged anomalies in the list of voters in Florida. The contention was that if the voter's list were corrected, Gore would have won as president. Early on Gore contested the election results but later on gave up his protest.

In this description, there is a mixture of "future" and "behind" indicated by "ex." One can understand the meaning of this description if s/he is familiar with the language of politics.


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