Is/ought, descriptive/prescriptive, truth/value

Yesterday, I happened to have a conversation about Hume’s is/ought problem with someone. It was the first time I had touched on this subject with anyone even though I had read about it.

What happened was that I had the construct of the problem backwards in my head — what ought to be could be derived from what is. Or did I?

I had suggested that what someone pays for a painting such as a Da Vinci is over-inflated because it’s worth is that of the cost of its material and labour. The discussion was derived from a discussion on what is truth and value.

Noticing my mistake, I thought more about it. I realized this problem is similar to the descriptive/prescriptive conundrum in linguistics.

Where as linguistics of the earlier generations were about prescription (telling what the rules of language are to be adhered to) later generations up to now is about description (telling you how language actually is used). That is, to describe is to say what it is and to prescribe is to say what it ought to be.

It also seems that this does indeed relate to truth and value. Truth is what something is thought to be. And value is what something is thought to be worth. But does it?

Is/ought is about experience and judgement of reality. Descriptive/prescriptive is about data and its interpretation. But truth and value do not seem to be a “natural” binary in the same way as the other two. Truth is usually discussed with false or falsity of facts or reality. And value is usually discussed with subjectivity and objectivity. Their domains are different. This is an uneasy relationship and perhaps should not be discussed together.

Siri is surreal

I ask Siri to add to the calendar “pick up son” only for her to tell me the surreal – “pick up sun”. The dead poets would be proud.

Onkyo HF Player

Every time I play Beck’s Morning Phase album I notice it always sounds crisper and more defined in through the Onkyo HF Player instead of Apple Music. It is the app and not the file quality because I bought the original download from Apple Music and not elsewhere. So the only variable is that of the app. In other words it is the algorithm of the app that makes the sound quality better.

While I enjoy the convenience of Apple Music it is ultimately the sound quality that is important. In general, the audio sounds flatter and with less definition in Apple Music. This is not noticeable except through contrastive comparison. But still I would probably enjoy it less subliminally as I do notice the difference. Apple Music sounds lacklustre.


The reality and its objects are without inherent processes, qualities and relations. With perception we project onto the reality and its objects.


Death is not to be feared. It gives value to the life that precedes it. And it is not separate from one or the other. Life and death make up a single aspect of reality. Reality is a system of mutually defining entities. Nothing is should be treated as separate from the system but everything should be considered when thinking about and engaging with reality.