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Re: [ontolog-forum] Triangles and meanings. (was: Re: Triadic Sign Relat

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Peter Yim <peter.yim@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 2010 17:24:45 -0700
Message-id: <AANLkTim-cZOWGAv49pfHsM4HuYwOVoKGrkOS7HM=728Z@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> [PatH]   Comments? (Peter, if this is off-topic, please say so publicly
> and I will take comments off-list.)    (01)

[ppy]  Thank you, Pat.    (02)

You, and other colleagues on this thread, are obviously bringing up a
very fundamental issue that calls for clarification, if it isn't
already. So, please continue the discussion on this forum. Hopefully,
the archived discussion could result in another important piece in the
body of knowledge that this community is building together.  I have a
few suggestions, though ...    (03)

ALL,    (04)

The pertinent section in the Ontolog charter calls for the discussion
of "practical issues and strategies associated with the development
and application of both formal and informal ontologies."    (05)

I am sure if we all consciously try to ask (before making a post)
whether or not what one tries to say would satisfy the above criteria,
I think we will be productive, and will, collectively, advance our
understanding on the issue at hand.    (06)

That said, deep philosophical arguments, have, many times, turn into
heated (and, at times, irrelevant) debates that led nowhere.
Therefore, to keep this discussion productive, may I suggest that
everyone (who plans to contribute to the discussion) tries to observe
a few ground rules:    (07)

1.  that everyone self-regulates the volume and frequency of his/her
posts -- let's try the one-message-a-day limit, which was among the
self-regulated limit John Sowa suggested, when we had a traffic volume
getting out-of-hand situation back in January this year.    (08)

2.  rather than repeating or paraphrasing the same arguments or
concepts (over and over again), would people please just provide links
to literature and previous discussions where the same issues has
already been addressed or discussed (especially when they have already
been covered at the [ontolog-forum] before.)    (09)

3.  that we all try to read through, and digest the thread, and the
arguments and references already put forth, before posting a response.
( ... hopefully, this could help reduce the possibility of folks
talking past one another.)    (010)

4.  that someone may step up, and suggest we spin off the discussion
to a separate list (with a more appropriate scope and/or focus) if and
when it start to feel that that would be a good idea (given that this
specific discussion may not be for everyone in the Ontolog community.)    (011)

I do look forward to learning from this thread!    (012)

Thanks & regards.  =ppy    (013)

Peter Yim
Co-convener, Ontolog
--    (014)

On Tue, Aug 24, 2010 at 4:10 PM, Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx> wrote:
> Um... I hesitate to open up this triadic can of worms yet again, but this
> might be a good place to air an issue that has bothered me for some time. It
> is a basic clash, or at least tension, between the various forms of what I
> will call 'traditional meaning triangle' and modern cognitive science.
> The basic question is, where do the meanings come from? What force or
> principle or social construct (or whatever the hell it is) is it that gives
> signs their meanings? Everyone from Aristotle through Ogden & Richards to
> John Searle seems to agree that a critical part of any explanation of this
> must involve a *mind*: an interpreter or observer or intentional agent,
> which either (details vary) provides the meaning for the sign or perhaps
> embodies the meaning of the sign in some way. I don't want to get into the
> details of the various interpret- words, or the exegesis of the various
> alternative theories, but only to observe that they all seem to have this in
> common, that the proper account of the meaningfulness of a sign must involve
> a mind as part of the explanation. That is, the theories of meaning appeal
> to the notion of a mind as part of the account of meaning. The pithiest
> phrase is Searle's "original intentionality", a basic property of human
> minds which accounts for meaningfulness but is not itself reducible (except
> possibly to biology in some future extension of biological and psychological
> science.) Original intentionality plays the same kind of role in semiotic
> theory, in this view, that mass or electromagnetism play in physics: a basic
> 'force' to which other phenomena can be reduced but which itself has to be
> simply accepted as one of the building blocks of the fundamental theory.
> But now turn to modern cognitive science (CS), which is the only part of
> science that can claim to have even modest success at accounting for the
> cognitive functions which exhibit intentionality. CS treats the human mind
> as essentially dynamic information processing in the brain, viewed (at a
> suitably high level of abstraction) as a kind of biological computer. Not a
> Von Neumann machine, to be sure, but still an information processor which
> operates upon internal representations in some way. Now, on such an account
> of intentionality, the mind itself is made up of signs. Where do these signs
> get their meaning from? If we turn to the triangular tradition, we need
> another mind to provide the meaningfulness of these internal signs, and we
> are immediately in a vicious regress involving nested homunculi. Aristotle
> through Searle appeal to a mind to explain meaningfulness of signs: CS uses
> meaningful signs to explain how the mind works. Their explanatory arrows go
> in reverse directions, and if we use them both, they form a loop. So if CS
> is even sketchily right - and I repeat, no other account of mentality comes
> anywhere close to being adequate - then something other than the traditional
> triangular accounts of meaning must be used to account for how the internal
> signs - the mental representations which constitute the mind's inner
> ontology, the machinery of thought - get their meaning, if indeed they have
> meaning. There is no other mind to appeal to.
> I don't know how to resolve this problem. For myself, it amounts for me to a
> refutation of the traditional views of meaning, or at any rate a reduction
> of them to triviality. So, sorry, but Aristotle and Pierce and Searle and a
> whole lot of other very distinguished minds were all wrong. Searle obviously
> thought that it was a refutation of modern cognitive science (I use the past
> tense as I havn't spoken with him on this topic for a long time.) Either
> way, it is a serious theoretical problem for folk in our profession who are
> busily using both the formal techniques and the ideas of CS while relying
> upon the traditional triangular view of meaning and intentionality.
> Comments? (Peter, if this is off-topic, please say so publicly and I will
> take comments off-list.)
> Pat Hayes
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> IHMC                                     (850)434 8903 or (650)494 3973
> 40 South Alcaniz St.           (850)202 4416   office
> Pensacola                            (850)202 4440   fax
> FL 32502                              (850)291 0667   mobile
> phayesAT-SIGNihmc.us       http://www.ihmc.us/users/phayes    (015)

> On Aug 20, 2010, at 9:29 PM, Rich Cooper wrote:
> Hi Rick,
> Thanks for the image:
> <image002.gif>
> Most of makes sense to me, but why must an object “materialize” a sign?  The
> object may not be MATERIAL at all – it could be much more abstract, like the
> first cold weather is a sign of the coming Fall and Winter in the northern
> hemisphere, yet there may be no visible reminder of the cold day or the
> coming weather – just a lower temperature than usual, which seems more
> abstract than concrete in my experience.
> It seems to me that a better choice of relations is “Object fulfills sign”,
> as in expectations of the sign being met by some object, whether abstract,
> concrete or a variable in the relation.
> I like the choice “Object validates sign” especially, since that ties in
> with the way humans perform the usual discovery process of observing,
> classifying, theorizing and experimenting.
> The edge “Interpretant unifies object” seems a little strange, since it
> morphologically reminds me of unification, a process of substituting one set
> of symbols for another, some of which can be constants and others variables.
>  So I am a little nonplussed by that one.
> The other three edges (evokes, represents, signifies) seem quite well
> chosen, though “signifies” is morphologically related to “sign”, it still
> parses well.
> Thanks for the suggestions,
> -Rich
> Sincerely,
> Rich Cooper
> EnglishLogicKernel.com
> Rich AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com
> 9 4 9 \ 5 2 5 - 5 7 1 2    (016)

> ________________________________
>From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On
> Behalf OfRick Murphy
> Sent: Friday, August 20, 2010 4:28 PM
> To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Triadic Sign Relations
> Rich & All:
> Folks here might be interested in revisiting this triangle in the context of
> the ongoing discussion.
> http://www.rickmurphy.org/images/interpretant-triangle.png
> Although much of what's in the triangle is well-known,  labeling the sides
> combined with the counter-clockwise inner and clockwise outer edges reveals
> something unique.
> In its next revision the triangle will display the term "IT" at the bottom
> and "IS" at the top.
> --
> Rick    (017)

> On 8/20/2010 6:38 PM, Rich Cooper wrote:
> Hi Azamat,
> My comments are below,
> -Rich
> Sincerely,
> Rich Cooper
> EnglishLogicKernel.com
> Rich AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com
> 9 4 9 \ 5 2 5 - 5 7 1 2    (018)

> ________________________________
>From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On
> Behalf OfAzamatAbdoullaev
> Sent: Tuesday, August 17, 2010 12:29 PM
> To: [ontolog-forum]
> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Triadic Sign Relations
> AA] … Broadly, there are two types of semantic models:
> Extensional models dealing with classes
> Intensional models dealing with properties.
> The first one … assigns to every … sign (concept or predicate) its extension
> or reference or denotation, like a binary relation is interpreted as the set
> of ordered pairs.
> RGC] Shouldn’t extensional models also deal with instances, as well as with
> classes?  Perhaps I have misinterpreted what you are trying to say here.  It
> seems to me that extensional models deal with specific cases, which would be
> the instances.  If we get enough instances together that are similar, we can
> call it a class, but the extensional model deals with ALL the instances in
> the class, so the use of the grouping we call “class” is simply a plurality
> of instances, IMHO.
> The second one is about relating the symbols with the context,
> comprehension, intension, or meaning per se.  The whole ontological issue is
> here whether classes could be reduced to properties, or if intensional and
> extensional models of meanings are equivalent (or at least interoperable as
> applications).
> Azamat Abdoullaev
> Being a non ontologist (though student of ontology), it seems to me that
> “relating the symbols with the context, comprehension, intension, or meaning
> per se” isn’t a well formed formula – a symbol can be RELATED to anything,
> but the MEANING of that relationship is not the same thing as the
> relationship itself.  Perhaps you can educate me about what I missed by
> reaching that conclusion, because it sure seems intuitively correct at first
> blush.
> HTH,
> -Rich    (019)

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Rich Cooper
> To: '[ontolog-forum] '
> Sent: Monday, August 16, 2010 10:56 PM
> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Triadic Sign Relations
> Azamat,
> Thanks for your continuing efforts to help me understand the subtleties of
> this Peircean representation.  Below, I have interspersed my comments among
> your answers to my last email to form a chain.
> Thanks!
> -Rich
> Sincerely,
> Rich Cooper
> EnglishLogicKernel.com
> Rich AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com
> 9 4 9 \ 5 2 5 - 5 7 1 2    (020)

> ________________________________
>From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On
> Behalf Of AzamatAbdoullaev
> Sent: Monday, August 16, 2010 11:36 AM
> To: [ontolog-forum]
> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Triadic Sign Relations
> RC wrote: "So a familiar sign S represents another sign S2 in one agent’s
> mind, yet can represent only S itself in another agent’s mind, while
> simultaneously representing S3 (money, a document …) to still another
> agent?"
> ASHA: A sign points out to something else, while a symbol takes place and
> stands for something else.The nature of meaning relationship (or
> signification) lies in the sorts of things acting as signs (or symbols) and
> the sorts of things to be referred (signified).
> RC] I like the simplicity of that concept, but CSP, JFS and JA all claim
> that a sign can stand for ITSELF, i.e., the “interpretant” of a sign CAN be
> ITSELF, or it CAN be another sign, or it can be nothing, nada, zip, null, or
> nil.  I GUESS that means the interpretant of a sign with nil interpretant
> must actually be MISINTERPRETED to be itself.  I think a sign with ITSELF as
> its own interpretant would necessarily be an infinitely recurring circle
> unless controlled in depth by the interpretER.
> ASHA: The power of words, used by human minds, is in the double capacity to
> point out and stand for another thing. Again, there are verbal symbols and
> nonverbal symbols, as vocal signs and nonvocal signs. Among the nonverbal
> symbols are money, ceremonies, seals, titles, etc.
> RC] Money can have a lot of different TYPEs of interpretants, I suppose?
> Seals, titles, and various other forms are less flexible than money, so let
> me first explore the way in which money can have interpretants.
> The many interpretants of money must be selected by each InterpretER based
> on the associated markets and the instantaneous value system of the
> InterpretER.  With an exchange as flexible as today’s various money based
> trading system, money indexes a lot of desireable things.  Does that mean
> money has many, many interpretants over the set of all interpretER’s dreams
> of acquisition?
> Or do you contend that the interpretANT of money is money ITSELF?  That
> position leaves any concept of “fungability” completely up to the
> InterpretER, but generally all InterpretERs agree that more money is better
> than less money, therefore leaving the interpretant of money unrepresented
> in any objective sense, but known to be ordered by value.
> RC] Likewise, documents can have interpretANTs to themselves, which I
> certainly DON’T UNDERSTAND as desireable, or to the things they describe,
> but that description is based on the mind of the interpretER who read the
> document.   It makes me think of a book which, when read, states “this book
> is a book” in a circularity that is doomed to eternal recursion by an
> obsessive-compulsive interpretER.  As a representation of true meaning, that
> is a lot hard to swallow.
> RC] objectivity has not been introduced yet in the sequence of definitions
> of this Peircean exploration.  Which is another point: do Peirceans even
> believe in objectivity?  All InterpretERs would have to file the same
> InterpretANT for any objective Sign to qualify, but what if they erred, and
> the Sign doesn’t mean what they think it means – consider the physicists who
> preached “ether” in the 19th century as what light travels through before AE
> proved that there was no need even for ether?
> RC: "Another interesting aspect of your answer is that you use the word
> “thing” as the most general of all thingish words like object, plurality,
> stuff, material …; is that your mental image of the word “thing”, as the
> most abstract of all objects?
> ASHA: Yes, Thing refers to the Universal Class ofall sorts of entities,
> implying the universal property of all entities, whereas Nothing refers to
> the Null Class .
> RC] That sounds very reasonable and well reasoned.
> RC: Can a “thing” include an action, method, plan, history of the
> foregoing?"
> ASHA: In the broad sense, it is a substance, state, change, process as far
> as " every sign is also a thing, for what is not a thing is nothing at all".
> RC] Then either we have to enumerate all possible things (which is feasible
> only in small universes for most applications) or we have to enumerate
> groups which together, enumerate all things in some form of closure.  In
> either case we ultimately have to enumerate all Things (and perhaps many or
> all groups in the lattice above those Things) if we want to represent them.
>  The enumeration of all Thing instances is therefore potentially a
> management issue of major considerations.  Yet I never hear of any
> enumeration, ordering, comparison, or identification methods from the
> Peirceans.  I wonder what methods they use to deal with large universes of
> Things, such as the seven billion humans on the planet.  I suppose a sparse
> representation is the easiest.
> In NL, words are the signs of ideas and images, thoughts and feelings, while
> the mental signs are the similitudes of things.
> RC] agreed.
> The beauty of machines consists in that they don't require the mental signs
> (ideas and images) as the medium whereby symbols (physical signals) could
> signify the real things.
> RC] Yes, and that is very well stated, thank you for the effort you must
> have put into that email!
> -Rich
> Azamat Abdoullaev    (021)

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Rich Cooper
> To: '[ontolog-forum] '
> Sent: Monday, August 16, 2010 12:20 AM
> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Triadic Sign Relations
> Hi Azamat,
> You wrote:
> "That confuses me no end if Peirceans can’t tie the theory to some commonly
> understood reality for me.  Is there a more fruitful description that
> explains the language used and chosen for that representation?"
> Rich,
> The nature of signs and symbols and significations, their definition,
> elements, and types, was mainly established by Aristotle, Augustine, and
> Aquinas.
> According to these classic sources, significance is a relationship between
> two sorts of things: signs and the kinds of things they signify (intend,
> express or mean), where one term necessarily causes something else to come
> to the mind. Distinguishing natural signs and conventional signs, the
> traditional theory of signs sets the following threefold partition of
> things:
> There are things that are just things, not any sign at all;
> There are things that are also signs of other things (as natural signs of
> the physical world and mental signs of the mind);
> There are things that are always signs, as languages (natural and
> artificial) and other cultural nonverbal symbols, as documents, money,
> ceremonies, and rites. see a brief but comprehensive
> account,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sign
> Azamat Abdoullaev
> Thanks for your view on this; it helps me compare and contrast my own
> theoretical understanding with yours.
> So a familiar sign S represents another sign S2 in one agent’s mind, yet can
> represent only S itself in another agent’s mind, while simultaneously
> representing S3 (money, a document …) to still another agent?
> Another interesting aspect of your answer is that you use the word “thing”
> as the most general of all thingish words like object, plurality, stuff,
> material …; is that your mental image of the word “thing”, as the most
> abstract of all objects?
> Can a “thing” include an action, method, plan, history of the foregoing?
> Thanks for the stimulating viewpoint,
> -Rich
> Sincerely,
> Rich Cooper
> EnglishLogicKernel.com
> Rich AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com
> 9 4 9 \ 5 2 5 - 5 7 1 2    (022)

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