Re: Guessing?

From: Brian Selzer <brian_at_selzer-software.com>
Date: Sun, 20 Jul 2008 13:10:17 -0400
Message-ID: <ZjKgk.15806$mh5.12180@nlpi067.nbdc.sbc.com>

"JOG" <jog_at_cs.nott.ac.uk> wrote in message news:fa69af15-9911-48d8-8d68-1c919e700fe3_at_d77g2000hsb.googlegroups.com...

> On Jul 11, 3:30 pm, "Brian Selzer" <br..._at_selzer-software.com> wrote:

>> [Snip]
>>
>>
>>
>> >> >> 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
>> below.
>>
>>
>>
>> >> 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.
>
>

I contend that there is a difference between a symbol that represents something in the universe and a value. If that runs counter to your particular brand of common-sense, then I sympathize but suggest you adopt another.

>>
>> 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.
>>
>> [snip]

> Received on Sun Jul 20 2008 - 12:10:17 CDT

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