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

To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Smith, Barry" <phismith@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 18 Dec 2005 08:17:34 -0500
Message-id: <>
At 11:04 PM 12/17/2005, you wrote:
>Yes, I was trying to summarize too many complex issues
>in much too short a statement:
>JS> In short, all our perceptions are signs, and the objects
>>themselves are hypotheses that might turn out to be
>BS> something wrong with both grammar and logic, here, I think;
>>but in short: the fact that every single one of the hypotheses
>>we have about objects might be false, does not mean that they
>>ALL might be false; also 'hypothesis', 'object', 'illusion'
>>are terms referring to entities in different categories
>I agree.
>To separate the entangled points in a more extended summary,
>let me start with a description of the processes of perception
>along the lines that cognitive psychologists have been discussing
>for the past 40 years or so:
>  1. Incoming signals that impinge on our nerve endings are signs.    (01)

what are they just before they impinge?    (02)

>  2. Perception involves the interpretation of those signs by
>     a process of retrieving one or more chunks of previously
>     experienced signs (traditionally called _percepts_) that
>     are assembled into a pattern that matches the new signs.
>  3. The process of perception is rarely an exact match of
>     old percepts to new signs.  Instead, the assembly of
>     percepts has the nature of a hypothetical construction,
>     which may involve a considerable amount of deformation
>     and adjustment.  The process is definitely fallible and
>     possibly ambiguous, in the sense that several different
>     selections of percepts could be adapted to match the
>     any given incoming pattern of signs.
>  4. Peirce called the process of perception a kind of abduction,
>     and that term has been applied by computational linguists,
>     such as Jerry Hobbs, to the process of parsing natural language
>     sentences (which are usually processed by methods similar to
>     the steps outlined in #2 and #3 above).
>  5. Not all percepts are associated with words in a natural
>     language, but many of them are.  A natural language description
>     of the perceived experience could be generated by assembling
>     the words that correspond to the percepts in an NL sentence
>     according to the syntax of the language and with the help of
>     auxiliary morphemes, such as function words and inflections.
>Assuming a process of perception of this sort (which is a common
>hypothesis in cognitive psychology), I would expand my earlier
>sentence thus:  the process of perception involves the matching
>of incoming signs to a hypothetical construction from stored
>percepts.  The pattern matching process is fallible, and any
>particular construction is a hypothesis that could be, and
>often is, falsified or at least corrected by future experience.
>What we call "objects" are the external projections of our
>internal constructions that have proved to be useful over long
>periods of time.    (03)

Were the unicellular organisms existing billions of years ago already 
then objects?    (04)

>   Peirce said that a great many of our beliefs
>that have survived extensive testing are probably true within
>the limits of our ability to perceive and verify.  We can
>probably be sure that our cherished beliefs will survive tests
>that are similar to our past experiences, but we can never
>be certain how far they can be trusted.
>Note the ubiquitous signs:  the original signals from the nerve
>endings, the store of percepts in the brain, the assemblies of
>percepts used to interpret the new signs, the stable constructions,
>which we call "objects", and the words and sentences we use to
>describe them.  They're all signs.    (05)

ere the unicellular organisms existing billions of years ago already 
then signs?
Were the molecules of water in which they swam already then signs?    (06)

>Different psychologists may have different theories and different
>terminology for the processes of perception, but what they're
>discussing is still signs and signs of signs.    (07)

Did we evolve from signs and signs of signs?
BS     (08)

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