Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2008 08:21:30 -0700 (PDT)
On Jul 11, 3:30 pm, "Brian Selzer" <br..._at_selzer-software.com> wrote:
> >> >> Consider the following statements:
> >> >> 1. Susan is an electrical engineer.
> >> >> 2. Susan is a mechanical engineer.
> >> >> 3. Susan is an electrical engineer or Susan is a mechanical engineer.
> >> >> Now, suppose you have a base relation P whose members map to
> >> >> individuals
> >> >> that exemplify the property of being an electrical engineer, a base
> >> >> relation
> >> >> Q whose members map to individuals that exemplify the property of
> >> >> being a
> >> >> mechanical engineer, and a virtual relation (a view) R (P UNION Q)
> >> >> whose
> >> >> members map to individuals that exemplify either the property of being
> >> >> an
> >> >> electrical engineer or the property of being a mechanical engineer or
> >> >> both.
> >> >> The presence of a tuple in the virtual relation with a value that maps
> >> >> to
> >> >> Susan tells us only that Susan exists and that she is either an
> >> >> electrical
> >> >> engineer or a mechanical engineer or both. It does not tell us which.
> >> >> It
> >> >> is only the fact that the value that maps to Susan appears also in
> >> >> both
> >> >> of
> >> >> the base relations that tells us that in fact Susan is both an
> >> >> electrical
> >> >> engineer and a mechanical engineer. So here we have three relations,
> >> >> two
> >> >> base, one derived, that draw their values from the same domain, but it
> >> >> is
> >> >> where a particular value appears that imparts different aspects of
> >> >> meaning
> >> >> to that value.
> >> > Values don't have meaning. That would indicate they somehow
> >> > "contained" that meaning. Meaning is conferred upon values by
> >> > isolation of the context in which they have been described (here the
> >> > relation they are contained in and its associated predicate), followed
> >> > by interpretation of that description by a human (with their
> >> > subjective understanding of the world).
> >> I'm not sure I agree. Symbols don't have meaning apart from
> >> interpretation.
> >> Nor do combinations of symbols. Consider the combination MIX:
> >> Does it represent the act of combining things?
> >> Is it a representation of the number 1009?
> >> Is it the name of Donald Knuth's mythical computer?
> >> Only under an interpretation is an instance of that particular
> >> combination
> >> of symbols assigned meaning.
> > So without an interpretation the word has not been assigned a meaning?
> > Hence the word /alone/ is meaningless. That's exactly what I said. You
> > appear to have just checkmating yourself.
> A word without an interpretation is just sqiggles or noise. Only under an
> interpretation does it convey meaning. Also, a word is not a value. See
> >> And when a symbol or combination of symbols
> >> has been assigned meaning, the object in the universe that it maps to is
> >> the
> >> value it is associated with. A value, therefore, is in a very strict
> >> sense
> >> what a symbol means. So you're right in saying that it doesn't /have/
> >> meaning or /contain/ meaning: it is what is meant.
> >> > I recommend reading Wittgenstein's "Philosophical Investigations",
> >> > Dreyfus' "What Computers still can't do" and Clancey's "Situated
> >> > Cognition" for related analyses. Better to stand on the shoulders of
> >> > giants than the toes of midgets I say.
> >> Here's a quote from Wittgenstein's /Philosophical Investigations/. Page
> >> 2
> >> in fact:.
> >> These words [a quote from Augustine, /Confessions/], it seems to me, give
> >> us
> >> a particular picture of the essence of human language. It is this: the
> >> individual words in language name objects--sentences are combinations of
> >> such names.--in this picture of language we find the roots of the
> >> following
> >> idea: Every word has a meaning. This meaning is correlated with the
> >> word.
> >> It is the object for which the word stands.
> >> <<<
> >> Funny how the first recommended reading supports my position in just the
> >> first few pages.
> > That doesn't seem the case.
> >> To be sure, Wittgenstein argues that words have meaning, and they do,
> > No, he clarifies his everyday use of the term "have" by specifying
> > that he is positing that meaning is "correlated" to a word - that
> > meaning is conferred /upon/ words.
> That's not how I read it, but it's not worth fighting about.
> >> but not until it has been assigned under an interpretation.
> > Yes exactly as I said. Take the word, isolate the context in which it
> > has appeared, and then interpret it. Meaning is the end result. It is
> > not there at the start, and every stage of the process must occur for
> > it to come into being.
> Not exactly what you said: you were speaking of /values/ not words. There
> is a difference. A value is what a symbol or collection of symbols stands
> for. It is the object in the universe that under an interpretation the
> symbol maps to. It is what is meant.
> >> Nevertheless, the object that a symbol maps to is the value correlated
> >> with
> >> that symbol, and is per Wittgenstein, what is meant.
> > Your argument is tying itself in knots. If you are equating values =
> > real-world objects (which is a new one I have to say), then you are
> > forced to conclude that a database, not containing real-world objects,
> > therefore contains no values. This is of course madness.
> Not necessarily real-world objects, but those in the universe of
> discourse--whatever that happens to be.
> Isn't it true that the following all represent the same value: four, IV, 4?
> So here we have different symbols and combinations of symbols that map to
> the same object in the universe--the same value; so here we have different
> symbols and combinations of symbols that under an interpretation mean the
> same thing.
> It is not madness: A value is not a symbol. It is an output of the function
> that maps symbols and combinations of symbols to objects in the universe.
> A database contains symbols and combinations of symbols that only under an
> interpretation have values, but since there should always be an intended
> interpretation, a database should always contain symbols and combinations of
> symbols that have values. So it is imprecise, though understandable, to say
> that a database contains values.
Well what can I say. I am genuinely suprised that you would follow your line of thought and end up denying the fact that "Databases contain values" (and hence propositions do too I guess), without wondering whether this contradiction with common-sense might throw one of your assumptions into doubt.
I'd have thought that this is the opposite of what scientific method should be all about - start with a model, extend, find an empirical contradiction that falsifies it, go back and reassess.
> It is important to keep separate symbol from value--representation from
> meaning--because what is represented in a database can mean different things
> at different times. A database is just a proposition, and under an
> interpretation that proposition is assigned a truth value, and as part of
> that assignment, every symbol and combination of symbols in that proposition
> is instantaneously correlated with an object in the universe and thus is
> assigned a value.
Received on Fri Jul 11 2008 - 17:21:30 CEST