There is an interpretation of "meaning" that I find useful in the paper
by William Woods "Meaning and Links" in the Winter 2007 issue of AI Magazine
(vol. 28 no. 4) which he calls "Procedural Semantics". Simplified, his
interpretation requires that there must be some executable procedure that
can verify the truth of a statement or the membership of some entity in the
set of instances of a type, in order for a machine to actually be able to
grasp "meaning". (01)
"In this theory the meaning of a noun is
a procedure for recognizing or generating
instances, the meaning of a proposition is a
procedure for determining if it is true or false,
and the meaning of an action is the ability to
do the action or to tell if it has been done." (02)
This assumes that the machine is equipped with some sensorimotor
capabilities that would allow it to test conditions in the real world.
There are existing capabilities in typical computers, such as being able to
go out onto the Web and find text and pictures, that could substitute for
being able to walk around and inspect things at a close distance. (03)
This notion of meaning avoids the infinite loop of trying to interpret
symbols in a computer in terms of other symbols in a computer. He actually
introduced this notion back in the 70's. (04)
> -----Original Message-----
> From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-
> bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of rick@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Sent: Sunday, May 11, 2008 11:44 AM
> To: [ontolog-forum]
> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] A different approach to ontology
> John, Pat, Chris & All:
> Over the past few months I've been a bit of a bookworm trying to better
> understand interpretation and meaning. I have a few questions about a)
> RDF and CL interpretations and b) what Jospeh Goguen called "a
> relational theory of meaning" here ...
> Many thanks in advance for your time in answering my questions.
> John F. Sowa wrote:
> > I received the following offline question:
> >> I don't have it clear in my mind why a formal ontology
> >> (a particular method of documenting relationships)
> >> would be "a prerequisite for a formal language that
> >> says anything meaningful about any subject domain."
> > The words or other symbols must have some connection to
> > the world in order to make any statement about any aspect
> > of the world (i.e., some subject domain).
> The RDF semantics states a) that it restricts meaning to what "can be
> captured in mechanical inference rules" and b) that equates a
> world with an interpretation.
> The papers I've seen on possible worlds seem to cover a wide variety of
> other topics like, necessity, possibility, etc ...
> Would you happen to have a reference to an academic paper the defines
> interpretation as a world ?
> I've read Tarski's Semantic Conception of Truth which defines truth as
> material adequacy, but this definition seems to require structures
> derived from sentences to "fully interpret" the sentences they
> CL model theory doesn't make the same claim: that an interpretation is
> world. Why ?
> > If the symbols don't have any such connection, you have
> > a meaningless formal language such as the list of
> > strings Chris Menzel mentioned: ab, aabb, aaabbb, ...
> > Some such strings might be interesting to analyze,
> > but they don't say anything. They're formal, but
> > they're as irrelevant to anything in the world as
> > a game of chess or a Sudoku puzzle.
> Is it fair to say that vocabularies that satisfy interpretations under
> RDF and CL allow us to extend meaning with to what Goguen called
> representational and relational theories or meaning. For example, in a
> semiotic vocabulary in which various signs without interpretants could
> satisfy a representational theory of meaning, Then interpretants could
> satisfy for relational theory of meaning?
> Again, many thanks in advance !
> > John Sowa
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> Thanks Rick,
> blog http://spout.rickmurphy.org
> web http://www.rickmurphy.org
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