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Re: [ontac-forum] Theories, Models, Reasoning, Language, and Truth

To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2005 20:52:40 -0500
Message-id: <43A36F68.1080100@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Azmat,    (01)

I spoke precisely:    (02)

JS> ... everything I see is a sign, everything I feel is
 > a sign, everything I think is a sign, and everything I
 > say is a sign.  It's all signs all the way down.    (03)

AA> Actually, not every thing is a sign, rather 'every
 > sign is also a thing'.    (04)

A thing is not a sign until it is perceived by some sentient
being -- which could be as lowly as a bacterium.  But every
thing that is perceived is perceived by means of a sign,
which may be just a sign of itself.  But more likely it is
a sign of just some aspect of the thing, such as an image,
a feeling, a change in temperature, pressure, sweetness,
salinity, etc.    (05)

AA> I. There are things that are merely things,    (06)

That may be true, but they cannot be *known* unless they are
(a) perceived by their signs, (b) interpreted by means of
other signs (e.g., percepts, concepts, words, sentences, etc.),
and (c) tested by means of actions to determine their nature.
See Section 7 of the theories.htm paper:    (07)

    Theories, Models, Language, Reasoning, and Truth    (08)

AA> all acting as the ultimate references and meanings in Real
 > (Ontological) Semantics;    (09)

That raises many, many very serious questions.  See the above
paper, especially the issues of how language is related to theories,
how theories are related to models, how models are related to the
world, and how scientific methods are use to test hypotheses.  But
those 13 pages are just a brief intro.  I would recommend Peirce's
works for more detail.    (010)

AA> There are things that are also signs of other things...    (011)

Everything perceived is a sign at least of itself, but interpreting
what that "self" may be requires more than just one sign.    (012)

AA> There are things that are always signs, as words and other
 > symbols signifying things via mental signs...    (013)

That also requires interpretation.  When the Mayan ruins were first
explored, the symbols that represented words could not be distinguished
from mere decorations, which are signs of a different sort.  And even
when writing is recognized as writing, it can also be interpreted in
many different ways, including as decoration (calligraphy).  Even when
the writing is known to be writing, its meaning may be ignored for
many purposes, such as transmission across a network.    (014)

There are many, many different kinds of signs of signs of signs.
For an overview, I recommend the following:    (015)

    Ontology, Metadata, and Semiotics    (016)

In my note to Chris, I was making the point that the debates pro and
con various forms of "representation" are fundamentally misguided
because there is no sharp distinction.  For example, some people say
that logic is representational, but neural networks are not.  That,
however, makes a sharp dichotomy that obscures rather than clarifies
the underlying issues.    (017)

What we are fundamentally dealing with are signs.  There is no question
that there does exist something independent of our minds, but what it is
can only be experienced through signs, analyzed by means of signs, and
classified by means of signs.    (018)

John    (019)

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