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Re: [ontolog-forum] Semantics of Natural Languages

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Thomas Johnston <tmj44p@xxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 23 May 2015 23:07:38 +0000 (UTC)
Message-id: <1861642105.332083.1432422458421.JavaMail.yahoo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

I suggest that the internalist/externalist argument among cognitive scientists (the "brain in a vat" discussions) are orthogonal to the connectionist/representationalist argument.

I think that PG does a good job of establishing conceptual spaces as a level at which we can begin to understand how we could solve such representationalist issues as the riddle of induction.

But I think that the geometry of conceptual spaces, and especially the great importance for PG of the distinction between convex and non-convex spaces, remains a metaphor whose neurophysiological correlations remain unexplained.

I called the concept of conceptual spaces a metaphor. I think that the work PG has done to connect conceptual spaces to research results in physiological psychology, let alone his work (in Chapter 7 of Conceptual Spaces) makes it something more than a metaphor. But until its connection (pardon the pun) to the ANN paradigm is better articulated, it remains a mediational layer between representationalism and connectionism whose "connection" to connnectionism remains unestablished.


On Saturday, May 23, 2015 4:14 PM, John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:


I have not had the time to respond to the long thread about fruit flies,
etc.  I'll get back to that later.  Although I have a high regard for
most of the work by Peter Gärdenfors, his three-way distinction in
that paper misses a few hundred other ways that should be considered:

> Most adherents of the symbolic paradigm are semantic realists in the
> sense that the “meaning” of a predicate or a sentence is determined
> by mapping it to the external world (or, to make it even more remote
> from a cognitive system, to a plethora of possible worlds). The world
> (and the mapping) is assumed to exist independently of any relation
> to a cognitive subject.

First of all, every language, natural or artificial, consists of
symbols.  Therefore, every theory of language must, at some level,
be symbolic.

Second, the following sentence by PG is a statement of strong AI,
which even most AI people don't believe: "The symbolic approach starts
from the assumption that cognitive systems should be modeled by Turing

Third concepts are symbolic, even when they aren't expressed in
language.  The conceptual version that PG discusses represents
concepts by vectors, which are inadequate for representing nearly
all complex language usage -- both formal and informal.

Fourth, the term 'subconceptual' includes much more than the
computational methods called 'connectionist'.

Finally, PG does make some statements that I would agree with,
but his terminology (based on the trichotomy in that article)
tends to confuse the issues.

In short, I would not recommend that paper as a step toward
clarifying the issues raised in the fruit-fly thread.


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