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Re: Terms and statements

From: Thomas B. Passin <tpassin@comcast.net>
Date: Thu, 16 Oct 2003 19:28:04 -0400
Message-ID: <3F8F2984.1040908@comcast.net>
To: public-sw-meaning@w3.org



Graham Klyne wrote:

> At 08:47 16/10/03 -0400, Thomas B. Passin wrote:
> 
>> Graham Klyne wrote:
>>
>>> This idea of meaning being based in consensus also appears in the 
>>> work by Quine that I mentioned the other week [1].
>>> A possible difference in position would be that you talk about the 
>>> meaning of a URI, where Quine's analysis suggest that it's not the 
>>> individual terms but complete statements that have meaning.  (I think 
>>> that's a point that Pat has been trying to press, too.)
>>
>>
>> I think that individual terms _do_ have meaning for people.  For 
>> example, the word "gravity" certainly has meaning for me.  It may well 
>> be that my sense of its meaning comes mainly from a large collection 
>> of statments that I have heard or uttered in the past - along with 
>> personal experience - but nevertheless the term itself carries meaning 
>> for me.
> 
> 
> So it may.  But we can never be sure that the meaning it has for you is 
> the same as the meaning it has for, say, me.  

Agreed.

> What we can agree on, 
> however, is some collection of statements using the term "gravity" that 
> we both agree to be true.  To this extent, it seems that when we seek 
> shared meaning, it's easier to find it in statements than in individual 
> terms.
> 

There is one thing, though.  People find it easy to substitute a word 
for a phrase, sentence, relationship, or thought.  After doing so for 
some time, I suspect that they tend to forget that the word is being 
used as a shorthand, and actually think that it is the word in itself 
that carries the meaning.  The word, I suppose, has become another kind 
of sign.  When this occurs, it may be easier, and possibly even more 
precise, to think in terms of the word itself.

Something similar probably happens to phrases and sentence fragments.

Does this have any relevance for machine-understandable "meaning"?  I 
have no idea.

Cheers,

Tom P
Received on Thursday, 16 October 2003 19:25:52 GMT

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