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Re: Signation

From: Jon Awbrey <jawbrey@oakland.edu>
Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2001 02:15:11 -0500
Message-ID: <3A73C6FF.660808AF@oakland.edu>
To: Seth Russell <seth@robustai.net>, Stand Up Ontology <standard-upper-ontology@ieee.org>, RDF Logic <www-rdf-logic@w3.org>
CC: Matthew West <Matthew.R.West@is.shell.com>, SemioCom <semiocom@listbot.com>, Arisbe <arisbe@stderr.org>
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Seth,

Because this point is really important,
and I have already failed to convey it,
as far as I can tell, in several other
ways that I have tried up to this point,
I am going to try and say it another way,
and this time focus on a single aspect
of the underlying problem, as I see it.

Jon Awbrey wrote:
> 
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> 
> Seth Russell wrote:
> >
> > Jon Awbrey wrote:
> >
> > > |  "Matthew"  is a sign that denotes Matthew   (in the real world).
> > > |  "x"        is a sign that denotes x         (in the real world).
> > > |  "<x, y>"   is a sign that denotes <x, y>    (in the real world).
> > > |  "R"        is a sign that denotes {<x, y> : <x, y> in R} (ITRW).
> > > | '"Matthew"' is a sign that denotes "Matthew" (in the real world).
> > > | '"x"'       is a sign that denotes "x"       (in the real world).
> > > | '"<x, y>"'  is a sign that denotes "<x, y>"  (in the real world).
> > > | '"R"'       is a sign that denotes "R"       (in the real world).
> >
> > So can you provide a dereferencible URI to ITRW,
> > and will you assert (in the real world) that it
> > is the official URI?

This is an interesting word:  "dereferencible".

If you interpret the word "reference" as I do,
then it refers to the relation between a sign
and one of its objects, where the only thing
to ask is which direction you are going, from
sign to object or from object to sign.  I also
call this relation "denotation", in the sense
that the sign "denotes" each one of its objects.
And you may notice that I permit the relationship
to be many-to-many, graph-theoretically a "bigraph".
As such, the dyadic relation of "denoting", that is,
of "referring to", is just what you get when you take
a triadic sign relation and ignore the "interpretant",
in technical terminology, taking the "dyadic projection"
on the cartesian product of the Object and Sign domains.

I hope that we are still on the same page here --
so please let me know if we are not.

So when somebody speaks of "dereferencing", well,
I automatically start to think of proceeding from
a sign to one of its objects, but I know that the
sense of what they intend is actually going off in
another direction, almost as if, at least at first,
at cross-purposes to the sign-object axis, namely,
following a pointer to that which it points, and
this is not an object, at least not of the sort
that we ultimately intend, or nothing so grand
as "The Real World", but yet another sign or
text or picture or other assemblage of bits.

Now, do not get me wrong, it can actually happen
that a sign denotes a sign as one of its objects,
for instance, as when '"x"' denotes "x", in which
case I would say that '"x"' is a certain kind of
"higher order" (HO) sign, so it may still be that
some cases of following pointers are really true
cases of reference, but I do not think that all
instances of clicking on a link fall under this
sign-theoretic category.  I could be wrong here.

What do you think?

Let me introduce the term "semiosis" for any sort of
a transitional process that passes from sign to sign,
and so on, and so forth, perhaps generating a series
of signs.

Now, independently of the question that we wondered
about earlier, as to whether all of the conceivable
varieties of "dereferencing" are actually genuine
cases of denoting or referring, it is still just
a bit clear to me that the totality of ways in
which a process of semiosis can be carried on
in regard to an object, and thus have some
bearing on that object, is not exhausted
by the types of semiosis that end in
the object of any of their signs.

In short, I do not demand of signs
that they be like Dalton's atoms,
with little hooks that latch on
to objects in the real world.

Okay, that looks like a good place to quit
and see if we are understanding each other.

Yours Truly,

Jon Awbrey

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Received on Sunday, 28 January 2001 02:14:46 GMT

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