Thanks for this and the brief discussion of Tarski's conception of semantics
and the reference to his paper. I'm reading it now. This present list should
help prevent me from wasting more time regretting that those other branches
of the study of semantics are not included in model theoretical semantics.
Also should help prevent me from trying to re-invent extensions to MT which
others have spent careers investigating. (02)
I'm wondering if you would agree that one of the advantages of Tarski's
model theory, despite its limitations, is that it permits relative ease of
computational implementations for a large subset of interesting and
important problems. (03)
On a more specific note, I was wondering if you had ever heard of
'Interactivism' promoted by Mark H. Bickhard. If you have, where you place
his work in the 3 branches you list here? If you haven't, here is an HTML
copy of the abstract and reference to a PDF paper he wrote in 1993 titled,
"An Approach to the Problem of Representation".
I find his approach to representation intuitively very satisfying. He
rejects what he refers to as the errors of 'encodingism' as the embodiment
of mental representations. Instead he presents a view of representation as a
continuous process of interaction with the world. (04)
John Black (05)
on Tue. Dec. 25, 2007 at 3:41 PM, John Sowa wrote: (06)
> Pat, Christopher, and Azamat,
> As I said in my note about Tarski's model theory, I believe it is
> only one part, but an important part of the semantic puzzle.
> To relate it to the other parts, I'd like to mention the 'meaning
> triangle', which is the term that Ogden and Richards (1923) used
> for their diagram that relates a symbol, a concept, and an object.
> However, the triangle (without the diagram) is as old as Aristotle,
> whose terms for the three nodes were symbolon (symbol), pathema
> tes psyches (affection of the psyche), and pragma (object).
> The medieval Scholastics used the terms signum (sign),
> significatio (signification), and suppositio (supposition).
> Frege's terms were Zeichen (sign), Sinn (sense), and Bedeutung
> Peirce's terms were sign, interpretant, and object.
> Instead of recognizing the full triangle, Tarski's model theory
> relates the sign directly to the object, while ignoring the
> concept, pathema, significatio, Sinn, or interpretant.
> Most linguists are unhappy with model-theoretic semantics
> (AKA formal semantics) as the primary or even only version
> of semantics, and they have developed two other, sometimes
> competing branches: lexical semantics and cognitive semantics.
> 1. Lexical semantics, according to Cruse (1986), is a “contextual
> approach,” which derives “information about a word’s meaning from its
> relations with actual and potential linguistic contexts.” That
> definition corresponds to the left side of the meaning triangle, which
> omits the connection between words and the objects they refer to. It is
> compatible with Saussure’s definition of language (langue) as “the whole
> set of linguistic habits, which allow an individual to understand and be
> understood” (1916). Lexicographers analyze a corpus of contextual
> citations and catalog the linguistic habits in lexicons, thesauri, and
> 2. Formal semantics studies the logical properties of words and
> sentences and relates them to objects and configurations of objects. The
> first logic-based systems were designed as computer implementations
> (Bohnert & Backer 1967; Woods 1968; Winograd 1972), but Montague’s
> theories were more influential among philosophers and logicians. Other
> formalisms include discourse representation theory (Kamp & Reyle 1993)
> and situation semantics (Barwise & Perry 1983). Yet despite 40 years of
> sustained research, none of the implementations can translate one page
> from an ordinary textbook to any version of logic. Lexical semantics
> covers a broader range of language than the formal versions, and it
> addresses more aspects of syntax and vocabulary that affect meaning. But
> unlike the logic-based theories, lexical semantics does not define a
> mapping from language to objects or a method of reasoning about them.
> 3. Cognitive semantics studies the concepts and patterns of concepts
> that relate language to perception and action. Locke’s associations
> influenced many 19th-century psychologists, but Kant’s schemata led to
> more structured theories by Selz (1913) and Bartlett (1932). Other
> versions included Gestalt theory (Wertheimer 1925), activity theory
> (Vygotsky 1928), and cognitive maps (Tolman 1948). The earliest computer
> implementations, called semantic networks, were designed for machine
> translation; among the first were the correlational nets by Ceccato
> (1961). Other highly influential computational versions include
> conceptual dependencies by Schank (1975), chunks by Newell and Simon
> (1972), who cited Selz as an inspiration, and frames by Minsky (1975),
> who cited Bartlett. Robotics applications use concepts and cognitive
> maps to relate a robot’s language interface to its sensory and motor
> mechanisms. Among linguists, Lakoff (1987), Langacker (1999), Talmy
> (2000), and Wierzbicka (1996) devoted their careers to analyzing
> cross-linguistic cognitive patterns and their relationship to
> extralinguistic objects and activities. The term conceptual structure is
> commonly used for those patterns, both in linguistics (Jackendoff 1983)
> and in artificial intelligence (Sowa 1976, 1984).
> A full treatment of semantics must recognize all three sides of the
> meaning triangle as essential to the meaning of 'meaning'. But even
> that does not get into all the issues of pragmatics. That, however,
> is an even more complex issue.
> For references in the above note, see my combined bibliography:
> John Sowa
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