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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology and methodology

To: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 09:34:58 -0500
Message-id: <p06230901c226f05097c8@[]>
Hi John.    (01)

Rather than continue this debate in this forum, I'll just register my 
view that this idea of anything being a 'sign' is absurd, as is the 
idea that all life is intentional. If a tree in a field is a sign 
that there is a tree in the field, then a sodium atom is a sign that 
there is a sodium atom; indeed, for all x, x is a sign that x exists. 
At this point the terminology is not worth discussing.    (02)

BTW, one observation. You say    (03)

"What makes something a sign is the interpreter -- human, animal,
or even bacterium."    (04)

This view makes sense in a 19th-century perspective on the centrality 
of agency in interpretation (except you seem to focus on life rather 
than agency, which is more like an 18th-century view). It does not, 
however, make sense when we take a late-20th century perspective on 
how such agents actually work, since cognitive science seeks to 
explain intentionality as a byproduct of the internal manipulation of 
'signs' in the agent's brain. If 'signness' (aka Searle's 'original 
intentionality', etc.) is to be explained by intentional agency, and 
intentional agency is to be explained by manipulation of signs, we 
are in a vicious circularity. I would rather toss aside Peirce (and 
Ogden & Richards) than give up on the insights of computational 
psychology.    (05)

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