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Re: [ontolog-forum] Triangles and Meanings

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Jon Awbrey <jawbrey@xxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 06 Sep 2010 19:56:25 -0400
Message-id: <4C857FA9.30003@xxxxxxx>
Rick,    (01)

I'm not sure it's possible to sort out all the confusions and
skew-a-logues that have arisen in on this "triangular" tangent
to the "triadic sign-relational semiotics" line of approach to
Sean's "looking for a razor" thread, so I'll just indicate one
of the bigger issues that I think deserves some careful thought.    (02)

I think we need to be mindful of the distinction between normative
sciences and descriptive sciences, the object examples for the current
discussion being the normative science of logic and the descriptive of
psychology.    (03)

Aristotle and Peirce -- I'm less sure of Locke -- are very clear
about the difference between logic and psychology, and they both
treat the theory of signs as being primarily the business of logic,
if not indeed the whole of it, though of course there is plenty of
room for a descriptive semiotics that might overlap with psychology.    (04)

Anyway, I think a lot of confusion can be avoided if
we keep this distinction and associated facts in mind.    (05)

Jon Awbrey    (06)

Rick Murphy wrote:
> On 8/24/2010 7:10 PM, Pat Hayes wrote:
>> The basic question is, where do the meanings come from?
> Meanings come from the the association of subject and predicate in one's 
> consciousness to unify experience. By experience I mean more than 
> processing external stimuli. The sense of the term consciousness I use 
> includes non-waking states like dreams and the subconscious.
> Though this may seem a stretch I'll also include "collective 
> unconscious," or better "collective conscious." I'm a musician and I can 
> speak directly to my experience with the collective conscious while 
> improvising. Sports teams experience this too.
>> What force or
>> principle or social construct (or whatever the hell it is) is it that
>> gives signs their meanings?
> Experience. All the experiences we've had as individuals and as humans.
>> 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.)
> In Dennet's Evolution, Error and Intentionality [1] he argues against 
> the relevance of distinguishing natural and functional meaning. While 
> recognizing the remaining contradictions, as you suggest, he points to 
> Darwin and Dawkins. But this raises an even more significant challenge 
> in ethics.
> "The same challenge could be put to Dawkins: how can it be wise to 
> encourage people to think of natural selection as a watchmaker, while 
> adding that this watchmaker is not only blind, but not even trying to 
> make watches?"
> 1. http://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/papers/evolerr.htm
>> 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.
> I think that's OK. Well maybe not OK, but it's all we have. If we accept 
> Dennet's arguments in [1] the triangle still offers a practical way to 
> differentiate what I call extents. By extents I mean what's in the 
> world, what's in the mind and what's in the machine. If you have a 
> better name for this I'd appreciate you're suggestion.
> As an example, I used the triangle here [2] to explain the meaning of 
> the following phrase.
> RC > "The first cold weather is a sign of the coming Fall and Winter in 
> the Northern Hemisphere."
> 2. http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/2010-08/msg00241.html
> I think using the triangle to explain extents is important to establish 
> a denotational semantics for the web. We talk a lot here about 
> semantics, but both here and in W3C we typically don't differentiate 
> denotational, operational and axiomatic semantics. I hope you'll agree 
> those are important distinctions to make.
> And you may find it funny that I keep the following statement at the top 
> of my home page:
> "The URI your browser de-referenced to render this page is not me."
>> 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.
> Bad idea, JMHO. The map is not the territory.
>> Not a Von Neumann machine, to be sure, but still an
>> information processor which operates upon internal representations in
>> some way.
> I think I'm a couple of years younger than you, but I caught enough of 
> what was happening back in the day that I remember the philosophy of 
> Alan Watts.
> http://pricklygoo.com/category/alan-watts/
> There was a longer lecture to IBM engineers, but I can't get a good 
> reference right now. I think his advice to those engineers still stands 
> today: mechanism and organism are not the same. When we take the map for 
> the territory, we take the first step towards simulacra. Anyway, Watts 
> is more enjoyable than Baudrilliard who I hope found some peace before 
> he died !
> But before I assume too much about my own conclusions. It looks like you 
> and Rod Burstall are old friends. Rod seems very positive on 
> contemplative science and I wonder whether he'd share some of what he 
> thinks about this topic. Joseph Goguen was pretty influential in the 
> Journal of Consciousness Studies.
>> 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.
> I'm letting this one go, myself. In addition to the practical outcome of 
> extents above, I show two separate paths in my version of the triangle. 
> Its not possible to "jump the shark" between the outer metaphysical and 
> inner existential path. It's only the outer path that takes the IT to 
> the IS.
>> 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.
> I share your overall conclusion. Maybe I'm wrong, but my intent with the 
> triangle is different.
> In terms of moving on, in addition to differentiating denotational, 
> operational and axiomatic semantics, for my work with Haskell I have 
> taken an interest in the notation [[]] John Reynolds introduces here [3] 
> as well as his work here [4] on types where he differentiates intrinsic 
> and extrinsic semantics.
> 3. http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~jcr/tpl.html
> 4. http://www.brics.dk/RS/00/32/BRICS-RS-00-32.pdf
>> Comments? (Peter, if this is off-topic, please say so publicly and I
>> will take comments off-list.)
>> Pat Hayes
> --
> Rick    (07)

--     (08)

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