This lecture of Andrey Velikanov’s course is devoted to the paradoxes of language.
Must all words have a meaning? And if they do have one, where does it come from? Did we just agree to associate certain words with specific meanings or is the meaning inherently present in every word? Lewis Carroll was a master of philosophical, mathematical, and logical paradoxes. His Humpty Dumpty claims that words have the meaning he attaches to them, yet it’s unclear what he actually is—an egg or a castle from a game of chess. In philosophy, the argument about words and their meaning led Karl Popper to formulate the concept of methodological essentialism and then criticize it, which, however, did not put an end to essentialism itself.
'Don't stand chattering to yourself like that,' Humpty Dumpty said, looking at her for the first time, 'but tell me your name and your business.'
'My name is Alice, but—'
'It's a stupid name enough!' Humpty Dumpty interrupted impatiently. 'What does it mean?'
'Must a name mean something?' Alice asked doubtfully.
'Of course it must,' Humpty Dumpty said with a short laugh: 'my name means the shape I am—and a good handsome shape it is, too. With a name like yours, you might be any shape, almost.'
Lewis Carroll. Through the Looking Glass