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Re: [ontolog-forum] Looking for a Razor and Triangles and Meanings

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Jon Awbrey <jawbrey@xxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 29 Aug 2010 20:45:16 -0400
Message-id: <4C7AFF1C.4090800@xxxxxxx>
Re: Looking for a Razor and Triangles and Meanings
By: Sean Barker    (01)

SB: Previously in this forum, I have made comments about meaning of
     a sign being grounded in the behaviour of the agent interpreting
     the sign -- and here I mean semantics, not pragmatics.  That is,
     I am interested in the phenomenon of meaning, rather than the
     mechanism.  A consequence of this is that I do not have to try
     and imagine how a computer imagines the world.    (02)

I interpreted the charge "looking for a razor" as a search for the
simplest model and/or theory -- two things I try to keep connected --
that accounts for or explains interesting features of a phenomenon,
without of course being so simplistic that only a reductionist of
the most dogmatic stripe would attempt to pretend it does the job.    (03)

Words like behavior, grounding, imagination, interpretation, meaning,
pragmatics, semantics, and many others tend to have diverse meanings,
so I like to give some indication of the class of models that I have
in mind when I use them.  From the perspective that I find agreeable,
one of the most important measures of complexity is the dimension of
the relations that one employs as models.    (04)

For instance, the concept of "behavior" is highly ambiguous until we
distinguish the category of 2-adic models of behavior, such as those
favored by the majority of self-described "behaviorists" even after
the so-called "cognitive revolution" induced them to write up their
research to the tune of a different style sheet, and the category
of 3-adic models of behavior, such as those that other theorists
judged necessary to analyze the classes of phenomena for which
folk theories commonly invoke terms like aim, goal, intention,
meaning, objective, or purpose to describe.    (05)

Well, that's enough for today ...    (06)

Jon Awbrey    (07)

 > The earlier thread on Peirce, and the fact that in the triad <sign, object,
 > interpretant> are signs, suggested an approach to the infinite regress of
 > signs. Every interpretant must have an interpreter (a pseudo-mind), and in
 > practice we do not need to follow an infinite regression of interpreters.
 > Rather, we can stop when we find an interpreter that acts directly on the
 > sign. For example, if we have a system of signs in logic, the appropriate
 > pseudo mind is a reasoner, which will answer whether a particular
 > proposition is true or false (or not determinable, or not yet
 > determined...). I do not need to understand the regression of signs through
 > the mechanisms that the reasoner uses, whether it be a computer or human, as
 > long as it produces an answer. Obviously there are people who will wish to
 > follow this regression as a means of improving the performance of the
 > reasoner or validating that it works correctly, but my business is at the
 > level of business, not the detailed mechanisms that it uses to do business.
 >  This leads to two sorts of questions. Firstly, the question of semantics
 > and what does the agent need to know to behave in the correct manner. The
 > main developments in this area are currently being made in the long term
 > archiving/retention/data sustainment communities. One study in the libraries
 > community reported that to understand a single digital artefact, over a
 > thousand supporting artefacts were needed.
 >  The second question is that of semiotics, and what the agent needs to know
 > to identify a sign as conveying particular semantics. That is not just how
 > does the agent disambiguate signs, but also how does it know that when it
 > recognises a sign that it has indeed correctly recognised it. I suspect the
 > answer in this case is related to context - that is, we assume a context and
 > attempt to disambiguate/situate something within that assumed context.
 > However, context is itself an infinite sequence of every expanding contexts.
 > More generally, there is no such thing as context, it is merely a language
 > game to introduce additional data into the situation. Therefore "a context"
 > is a strategic decision to limit the problem space on the basis of the
 > resources that can be committed to the problem at hand.
 >  The practical engineering of ontologies is therefore about choosing a
 > system of signs that supports the range of behaviours needed in the system
 > of agents to be deployed, and ensuring that the agents have firstly the
 > right knowledge to respond correctly to the individual terms in the
 > ontology, and secondly the right knowledge to differentiate the signs and
 > uses them correctly. The complications occur when computational system is
 > trying to compensate for gaps in the knowledge of human agents or in the
 > specification of the system of signs.
 > Feel free to disagree violently
 > Sean Barker, Bristol, UK    (08)

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