# Re: Guessing?

From: JOG <jog_at_cs.nott.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 22 Jul 2008 03:24:54 -0700 (PDT)

On Jul 20, 6:10 pm, "Brian Selzer" <br..._at_selzer-software.com> wrote:
> "JOG" <j..._at_cs.nott.ac.uk> wrote in message
>
>
>
>
> > 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
> > 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.

Yes, we know that. But you're value = object definition leads to the contradictions:
* databases then have no values in them. * to tell someone to enter a value into a spreadsheet cell becomes a nonsense.
* a mathematical formalism contains no values at all, given it need not refer to anything in the real world. * etc.

>
>

>
> >> 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 Tue Jul 22 2008 - 12:24:54 CEST

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