• Luke
    524
    Information is meaningful.creativesoul

    Information can have meaning, but it does not follow that information is meaning (or the same as meaning). Likewise, a demonstration can be peaceful, but a demonstration is not peace.

    Furthermore, meaning needn't be informative. I can understand the meaning of a word or a sentence without it informing me of something; without it teaching me or providing any facts about something. This informing, or information moving, is the context of use in the OP, which is why information should not be conflated with meaning here.
  • Possibility
    283
    Of course it sounds off - if you’re going to chop up the sentence like that. Try this:

    There is a tendency to reduce [our understanding/explanation of] the process [by which we make meaning] to the individual neural connections in the brain [or, more generally, the physical correlation of information].

    But the way I see it, meaning is not only correlation - it’s much more than that. If we equate meaning with correlation, then we may find ourselves arguing about whether or not DNA has sufficient agency to attribute meaning, for instance.

    Correlation is only part of the process by which we attribute meaning. In my view, systems can still correlate and integrate information without being fully aware of meaning, let alone having the capacity to attribute it - even if the system acts as though the information is meaningful. This why I use the term ‘correlation’.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.8k
    Complex thought/belief is required for agency.creativesoul

    This is false, there is agency in inanimate activity. It appears like you are attempting to create an unwarranted boundary between the "agency" of complex thought/belief, and the "agency" other living things. No such boundary exists. It would be completely arbitrary to draw a boundary between living beings with complex thought/belief (and therefore agency according to your arbitrary requirements for "agency"), and living beings without complex thought/belief.

    I want to see true premises, and valid logic, to support your claim that agency in DNA replication is unwarranted, not arbitrary definitions to support a faulty assumption.

    There is a distinction between purposeful and non-purposeful agency, which is supported by the principles of final cause. But I think it would be extremely difficult, and futile to argue that DNA replication is not purposeful activity, because clearly the actions involved are carried out for the purpose of replicating the DNA. How could anyone believe that this activity is not purposeful? And so biologists use the linguistic terms of "information", "transcription", and "translation", in describing this activity. Furthermore, there is an extremely high degree of accuracy in this activity which far surpasses any human linguistic capacity for accuracy (except perhaps in mathematics).

    This conflates existential dependency and meaning. Existential dependency is causal. Meaning is attributed. So, the conflation between causality and meaning rears it's ugly head, yet againcreativesoul

    It's all attributed. We say, by way of logical conclusion, that B is causally dependent on A. So "existential dependency" is attributed. And again, you are attempting to create an arbitrary and unwarranted boundary.

    But the way I see it, meaning is not only correlation - it’s much more than that. If we equate meaning with correlation, then we may find ourselves arguing about whether or not DNA has sufficient agency to attribute meaning, for instance.Possibility

    Is there no use for this argument? If it can dispel a false, and very misleading assumption, I think the argument is quite useful.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.1k
    Language is not the same as communication. It's is a medium of communication.T Clark

    SO what has been shown here is that language is far more than a medium for communication. It is philosophical myopia that leads one to think of language use as a conduit.Banno

    It is scientific myopia that leads one to think that their senses aren't part of the equation of explaining what language is and does. When using your senses, you acquire information - nothing else.

    The world is the medium for communication and language is simply part of the world, as language exists as sounds in the air, ink on paper, or light on your computer screen, which you use your senses to access.

    We can communicate without language use. Our behaviors and shapes of our bodies communicate our state of awareness and health. So language is just one way to communicate, not the other way around where communication is only one of the things language does. Your senses provide nothing but information. In a sense the world is communicating with you via your senses.

    The rules of language use is just more information. Once we have the rules (knowledge of language use), we know how to interpret those scribbles and sounds as about ideas in other minds, not about the ink and the paper, or the sound, or the light on the screen.

    In a sense, language use is how we communicate our own interpretaions of our sensory data which can be a certain shape with a certain color, taste and smell as "apple", or "word" and "sentence". How we interpret it shapes our response to it. We eat it or read it.
  • creativesoul
    5.6k
    Information can have meaning, but it does not follow that information is meaning (or the same as meaning). Likewise, a demonstration can be peaceful, but a demonstration is not peace.

    Furthermore, meaning needn't be informative. I can understand the meaning of a word or a sentence without it informing me of something; without it teaching me or providing any facts about something. This informing, or information moving, is the context of use in the OP, which is why information should not be conflated with meaning here.
    Luke

    You're preaching to the choir Luke. I'm not conflating information and meaning. Information is not meaning. I'm arguing that divorcing information from meaning is the mistake here. Information is always already meaningful.

    The comparison to peaceful demonstration fails to capture the relationship. Demonstrations are not existentially dependent upon peace. Information, however, is existentially dependent upon meaning. Not only can information 'have' meaning, it always does. Again, as before, if information is something that can be decoded, and/or translated, then it is already meaningful. The successfulness of the decoding/translating is itself existentially dependent upon that.
  • creativesoul
    5.6k
    There is a tendency to reduce [our understanding/explanation of] the process [by which we make meaning] to the individual neural connections in the brain [or, more generally, the physical correlation of information].Possibility

    Ok.


    But the way I see it, meaning is not only correlation - it’s much more than that...Possibility

    Agreed.


    Correlation is only part of the process by which we attribute meaning. In my view, systems can still correlate and integrate information without being fully aware of meaning, let alone having the capacity to attribute it - even if the system acts as though the information is meaningful. This why I use the term ‘correlation’.Possibility

    We differ here.

    Correlation is the only process by which we attribute meaning. I suspect there's an equivocation of the term "correlation" at work on your view. One sense for the process we use to attribute meaning, and one sense to characterize the results of certain command functions in computer language(and other 'systems', perhaps?).
  • creativesoul
    5.6k
    ...there is agency in inanimate activity.Metaphysician Undercover

    Case closed.
  • Banno
    5.6k
    @Harry Hindu; @creativesoul; @frank; @Terrapin Station @unenlightened


    One ought take care not to portray the senses as a diode, passing information in one direction only. There is feedback here, and hence complexity. Complexity occurs when small variations in the initial conditions are fed back into the system to be magnified and become great influences on the later conditions.

    One sees, reaches out, touches, holds, puts down. One is not situated passively, doomed only to absorb information.

    Better to think of oneself as embedded in the world.

    One does not sit inside one's body, looking at mere phenomena and reacting to them. One is not separate from one's sensations and acts - far from it. One's sensations and acts are constitutive of what one is.

    One does not build meaning inside one's head and then transmit it. Building meaning is part of the complex interaction one has with the world. Hence language is not mere communication. It is an integral part of the self-referential complexity that creates oneself, the other, and the various things in our world.

    This looping is not simple; it is strange. It traverses from level to level, between syntax, semantics, and pragmatics unexcused. It provides the illusion of free will. It is not limited to the self, nor the mind, nor the body, nor the various items that together make up the physical world.
  • Terrapin Station
    10.4k
    Better to think of oneself as embedded in the world.Banno

    These sorts of comments annoy me to no end, because it suggests a ridiculous misreading of anything I've ever said or would say. I can only imagine that the people responding with comments like this are applying their own misconceived ideological templates to things that I say, as if I'm somehow responsible for the wonky templates the person is employing in their understanding.
  • Banno
    5.6k
    Doubtless you are right that I have the wrong impression of your thinking, but nevertheless that is the impression you have left on me.

    Perhaps our difference is one of emphasis rather than one of kind?
  • Terrapin Station
    10.4k


    Possibly.

    For one, say that someone is talking about stoves/ovens and what they do. You wouldn't assume that they're for some reason saying that stoves aren't embedded in the world, would you?

    And a lot of what I'm doing amounts to pointing out that we use ovens to bake cakes, contra people suggesting that the actual baking part is a matter of people mixing the batter, cutting wheat to begin the process of making flour, or even suggesting that there's no such thing as ovens, or whatever other confused or intentionally ambiguous thing they might be suggesting.
  • Banno
    5.6k
    You wouldn't assume that they're for some reason saying that ovens aren't embedded in the world, would you?Terrapin Station

    Sure. And the oven is also embedded in the language being used. That is, being able to use an oven involves dividing things up in such a way that there is a role for "oven" in what we do. The world is understood in such a way as that there are ovens in it.

    Now I do not think that we disagree about this, so much as that it needs to be taken into account.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.8k
    Case closed.creativesoul

    I'm still waiting for the argument to demonstrate that this claim, "agency requires complex thought/belief", is a conclusion rather than a gratuitous assertion. Continuing with gratuitous assertions is really proceeding in the opposite direction.

    OED: agent, 2. a) person or thing that exerts power or produces an effect. b) the cause of a natural force or effect on matter.

    As I said, one can distinguish agents which act for a purpose, from agents which do not act for a purpose, through the principles of final cause. But your assertion that agency requires complex thought/belief is nothing other than ridiculous. As is your claim that this is a conclusion rather than an assumption. Don't you agree that we need to root out such faulty assumptions, and get rid of them? Why keep asserting it when it's so obvious that the assumption is so wrong?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.8k
    This looping is not simple; it is strange. It traverses from level to level, between syntax, semantics, and pragmatics unexcused. It provides the illusion of free will. It is not limited to the self, nor the mind, nor the body, nor the various items that together make up the physical world.Banno

    How does "looping" provide the illusion of free will? For that matter, how is free will any more of an illusion than any supposed relationship that an individual has with any other individual, or any other thing? How is free will less real than "the complex interaction one has with the world"? Isn't free will necessary for that interaction?

    It seems to me that the relationships we have with others are far more illusory than free will is. I can move my hands, arms, or get up and move at will, and this is extremely clear to me, but the relationship between myself and others is something which is vague and illusory.

    One sees, reaches out, touches, holds, puts down. One is not situated passively, doomed only to absorb information.Banno

    Isn't this an attestation to the reality of free will, right here?
  • Banno
    5.6k
    How does "looping" provide the illusion of free will?Metaphysician Undercover

    The juxtaposition of free will and determinism is a nonsense. Neither is coherent. What we do have is a complex looping of act and consequence.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.8k
    The juxtaposition of free will and determinism is a nonsense. Neither is coherent. What we do have is a complex looping of act and consequenceBanno

    That's a vicious circle. If one truly has a desire to understand acts, and the causes of acts, which is integral to philosophy, then one would very quickly see that we cannot understand the causes of acts as a looping of the consequences of acts. That's rather nonsensical, like say that the effect is the cause of the cause.
  • Banno
    5.6k
    ...we cannot understand...Metaphysician Undercover

    Strange loops are inherently unpredictable. So yes, you are right that we cannot understand acts in terms of their consequences. Their consequences will be innumerable and unforeseeable. But we knew that , and it does not make this description wrong.
  • frank
    2.8k
    Better to think of oneself as embedded in the world.Banno

    What's relationship between you and the world?
  • Banno
    5.6k
    What's (the?) relationship between you and the world?frank

    Who, me?

    As if there were only one such relationship. Or many. Positing a relationship between me and other stuff already posits a separation between me and other stuff. So you don't get one without the other (hence solipsism is a nonsense).

    What is my relationship to the world? I can't say. But if you watch, you will see.
  • Luke
    524
    You're preaching to the choir Luke. I'm not conflating information and meaning. Information is not meaning.creativesoul

    Okay, we don't disagree, so what do you want from me?

    Your original complaint was:

    What I have not seen is a coherent explanation of exactly how information - which is already meaningful, lest there could be no translation/decoding - can be moved.creativesoul

    I explained prior to this what I took "moving information from one head to another" to mean and I've explained it since. What I take it to mean is simply informing someone of something.

    If I tell you "the building is on fire" and you were not already aware of it, then I have passed this information on to you. You might say that this information has passed from my head to yours (although I dislike this way of putting it).

    What has not been passed on to you ("moved from my head to yours") is the meaning of the sentence, which is something you would need to know ("have in your head") already in order to understand the sentence.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.1k
    One ought take care not to portray the senses as a diode, passing information in one direction only. There is feedback here, and hence complexity. Complexity occurs when small variations in the initial conditions are fed back into the system to be magnified and become great influences on the later conditions.Banno
    Senses do pass information one way, unless youre Superman and can shoot heat rays from your eyes.

    One sees, reaches out, touches, holds, puts down. One is not situated passively, doomed only to absorb information.Banno
    Already said this. Go back and read my previous post. We react to the information that our senses provide based an our learned experiences. We eat apples, not the word, "apples". We read the word, "apple", not eat it.

    We continue to use our senses to provide feedback of our reactions to prior stimuli. Our own actions provide information that we use to fine-tune our actions for future use. So, yes an information feedback loop occurs as a result of our using real-time information to shape our behavioral responses to accomplish some goal with more efficient means. We become better at with our most commonly used actions because that is what we have more information about. Practice makes perfect.

    Better to think of oneself as embedded in the world.Banno
    Already said this too. Have you been paying attention? We are part of the world and therefore part of the information of the world. Our minds are as much of a causal force as anything else and is why we can access other minds thanks to the effects that they produce in the world. Words are about the ideas in a mind. Inventions are about ideas in a mind. Musical compositions are about ideas in a mind. We get at ideas in a mind every time we listen to the music some mind composed, or read the words they wrote. There are many levels of causes that lead to some effect that can go all the way back to the Big Bang. It's just a matter of what causal relationship, or what information, that is useful at any given moment per some goal. Information exists everywhere, but only minds have goals, so minds are what find any particular causal relationship useful, or attended to, or not depending on the present goal in mind.

    One does not sit inside one's body, looking at mere phenomena and reacting to them. One is not separate from one's sensations and acts - far from it. One's sensations and acts are constitutive of what one is.Banno
    This is similar to my questioning what constitutes "you" - your mind, your body, or what? To say that one sits inside one's body is to say that one is potentially separate from one's body, ie. the soul. I have never implied, much less proposed, such a thing. You are your actions, but thinking and speaking are part of one's actions, or behaviors, and communicative of many things - not just what one is saying, but what language they are using, where they are from, etc.

    One does not build meaning inside one's head and then transmit it. Building meaning is part of the complex interaction one has with the world. Hence language is not mere communication. It is an integral part of the self-referential complexity that creates oneself, the other, and the various things in our world.Banno
    Like I've been saying, meaning exists everywhere causes leave effects. Your interaction with the world is meaningful because you are part of that causal relationship. You are part of the world, which is to say that your existence is meaningful. Whether or not your existence is useful is a different story. Usefulness is related to goals and your existence could be useful or not dependent upon some goal, like your own survival, or some task a friend needs help with.

    What creates oneself is simply one's interaction, of which language is just a part, with the world. One's actions are what defines one's self, of which language use is just one kind of action. You seem to think that language use is this god that creates the self, as if we couldn't be self-aware without language. That is strange.
  • creativesoul
    5.6k


    We're in agreement.
  • Banno
    5.6k
    Senses do pass information one way,Harry Hindu

    What I said about the senses is accepted science. What you see, hear, feel and so on is mitigated by the nervous system. That the senses are far form passive is not something that ought be the subject of contention. So either you misunderstood, or you are wrong.

    Perhaps we are doomed to forever talk past each other.

    Tell me, is there any one who agrees with you that meaning is causal? Does it have a history?
  • Galuchat
    601
    Hence language is not mere communication.Banno

    Incorrect.
    Language is not communication, full stop.
    It is a mental modelling system used by advanced psychosemiotic organisms (i.e., human beings).
  • Possibility
    283
    Correlation is the only process by which we attribute meaning. I suspect there's an equivocation of the term "correlation" at work on your view. One sense for the process we use to attribute meaning, and one sense to characterize the results of certain command functions in computer language(and other 'systems', perhaps?).creativesoul

    I see what you’re saying, and I recognise that I haven’t been very clear.

    Correlation can refer to the process of establishing a relationship between events OR to the relationship itself - neither of which is, in my view, equated with meaning or the process of attributing meaning. The relationship IS a process, so I guess that’s where the confusion occurs.

    As a process, correlation is not dependent on thought/belief, language or self-awareness. It only requires the capacity to integrate information, and so it can occur at every level of awareness, to varying degrees. This, I think, is where we differ. That being said, it is a key component in the more complex and multi-dimensional process by which humans attribute and construct meaning.

    Correlation is the building block of the universe - without it, all we have is potential.

    Meaning, on the other hand, is a dimension of awareness in which we interact with the universe across and beyond four-dimensional spacetime. Language enables us to both integrate information and interact with events by establishing relationships (correlation) across all six dimensions (including a fifth dimension of value). Like sensing and evaluating, language is a set of correlations itself that help us to navigate meaning in relation to the lower dimensions, and to increase our understanding of this entire conceptual space in which we can now interact with the universe. The more we develop this capacity, the more information we can integrate, the more we can interact with the universe across these dimensions, and the more we can achieve.

    One does not build meaning inside one's head and then transmit it. Building meaning is part of the complex interaction one has with the world. Hence language is not mere communication. It is an integral part of the self-referential complexity that creates oneself, the other, and the various things in our world.

    This looping is not simple; it is strange. It traverses from level to level, between syntax, semantics, and pragmatics unexcused. It provides the illusion of free will. It is not limited to the self, nor the mind, nor the body, nor the various items that together make up the physical world.
    Banno

    I agree with you here. In my view, language is not moving information from one head to another; It is not mere communication. It is how we navigate the dimension of meaning: a means to integrate information, but more importantly to interact with the universe across spacetime and beyond it, to achieve, build structures of meaning, transcend or challenge value structures including the self, and even seek awareness beyond meaning.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.8k
    Strange loops are inherently unpredictable. So yes, you are right that we cannot understand acts in terms of their consequences. Their consequences will be innumerable and unforeseeable. But we knew that , and it does not make this description wrong.Banno

    You're right, it doesn't make the description wrong. But a description which doesn't help us to understand the thing being described is generally not very useful, and therefore not very good.

    I agree with you that "moving information from one head to another" is not a very good description of language. But I think "strange loops" to describe the relationship between actions and consequences, is a step in the wrong direction. In this sense, your description is wrong. If a move toward clarity in a description, is the right direction, you've moved in the wrong direction.

    The relation between actions and consequences is a temporal relation. We move forward in time, lineally. "Moving information from one head to another" is consistent with how we understand the passage of time, in terms of entropy. "Loops" is not consistent. You have provided no descriptive mechanism to get us out of the entrapment of this paradigm of temporal understanding "entropy", to a new paradigm where "loops" and feedback into a system, actually makes sense. Such an image requires that there are systems, with boundaries. The description cannot be successful until the boundaries are determined. "One head to another" already assumes the necessary boundaries. If you deny these boundaries you no longer have separate systems, and therefore nothing to support the image of loops. If you allow the boundaries, then you need to account for the learning capacity within the system, such that feedback can be a learning experience. But this requires a comparison of temporally distinct events, memory, and the act of comparing. So it's not a loop we're talking about, it's memory, comparison of temporally distinct events, and judgement.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.1k
    What I said about the senses is accepted science. What you see, hear, feel and so on is mitigated by the nervous system. That the senses are far form passive is not something that ought be the subject of contention. So either you misunderstood, or you are wrong.Banno
    Really? Care to show some scientific study that says just that?

    What is the "you" that sees hears feels and so on that is mitigated by the nervous system? Isn't the nervous system part of what it is to be "you"?

    Perhaps we are doomed to forever talk past each other.Banno
    I'm not sure if we're talking past each other, or saying the same thing with different words.

    Tell me, is there any one who agrees with you that meaning is causal? Does it have a history?Banno
    :brow: Why would I mention logic as the source of my insights and then make the logical fallacy of appealing to popularity like you did here?

    Others agreeing with me doesn't make my ideas true or not. My ideas are based on logic and the way we use words like, "meaning", "information", "knowledge" and "understanding". When we ask what something means, we are asking about causal relationships. For example, "What is the meaning of life?" is a question about the origins and/or purpose of life.
  • Banno
    5.6k
    Thanks. That'll do.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.1k
    Really? Care to show some scientific study that says just that?Harry Hindu

    Thanks. That'll do.Banno

    Yeah, I didn't think so. :wink:
  • Terrapin Station
    10.4k
    And the oven is also embedded in the language being used. That is, being able to use an oven involves dividing things up in such a way that there is a role for "oven" in what we do. The world is understood in such a way as that there are ovens in it.

    Now I do not think that we disagree about this, so much as that it needs to be taken into account.
    Banno

    Why, though? Why would you start talking about language when it comes up? You could just as well talk about the factory where the oven is made, the trucks that deliver it, the laws that have to do with how the business that makes the oven exists as a business and pays taxes and so on, the geological processes that enable us to mine and produce the materials used in the oven's manufacture, the planetary evolution processes that are necessary for the geological processes to obtain,and on and on--there are a bunch of things like that we could bring up. Why focus on language?

    Is it just because that's a pet topic for you? It's what you'd prefer to talk about?
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