"not" Skinner

[From cc> Chris Cherpas (960926.1710 PT)]
[re: MT> Martin Taylor 960926 14:15]

The point is that there is a whole universe (with a small hole
in it) of things that are "not X", but only a determinate part of the
universe that is "X"...
Now what could be the mechanism of a perception of "not seeing" X? How is
that different from a reference level of zero for a perception of X?...

It does seem rather incredible that one would have references
for the entire universe of "not Xs." I'm _not_ trying to advocate
radical behaviorism here, but Skinner's treatment of "not" in
the book _Verbal Behavior_ may be suggestive. Skins viewed a
"not X" construction as a combination of 1) metonomy, wherein
the speaker currently is about to say "X" in conditions typically
associated with X, but since X itself is not present, is accompanied
by 2) the autoclitic "not" which would not occur by itself
(hence, "autoclitic" in the sense of being conditional on the
speaker's own sense of being "about to say X in the absence of X").

Regards,
cc

[From Bill Powers (960827.0630 MDT)]

Chris Cherpas (960926.1710 PT)]

Skins viewed a
"not X" construction as a combination of 1) metonomy, wherein
the speaker currently is about to say "X" in conditions typically
associated with X, but since X itself is not present, is accompanied
by 2) the autoclitic "not" which would not occur by itself
(hence, "autoclitic" in the sense of being conditional on the
speaker's own sense of being "about to say X in the absence of X").

Funny how introspective "Skins" got when he spoke about language. Not that
I'm against instrospection, but I thought Skinner was.

Bill P.