on not understanding

Here’s a quote I just read from the handout for Chris Pott’s Logic for Linguists class here at the Institute. Someone should have told me these things last year. Linguistics is hard.

Chris Barker has the following quotation at his website:

“In mathematics you don’t understand things, you just get used to them.”
—John von Neumann

This is a deep insight into the way in which humans come to understand semantic theory as well. It’s here as a kind of warning: if this is your first time through material like this, then you can’t expect to fully understand all the hows and whys. It takes repeated exposure, and it takes time for these things to sink in. Thus:

• Don’t give up if you feel like you don’t quite see what’s happening.

• Expect to feel confused at times, as we settle into this web of interdependent concepts.

• Raise your hand often — it’s the only way to get your needs met.

• Expect this to take a lifetime.

Leave a Reply