Jesse, I always appreciated your posts as considerate, logical and most
professional. Now I a not so sure...
Brent mixed up a bit the concepts, even stirring in interpretation into
meaning, you speak about "our real world" - a joke. All because both of you
are infected with a physicalistic-computerminded thinking, product of our
XX.c. aberration by too much epistemic enrichment without the necessary base
to use it properly. The old Greeks had it easy: with that minuscule
'knowledge-base' they had it was just dandy to use their pure logic - what
is tarnished in today's thinking when a preschooler knows more about the
universe than a Greek sage did. Not that I would vouch for the trueness of
our knowledge, it is "interpreted" perceived reality, with lots of
explanatory artifacts (figments) to match the 'equations'.

Let me ├ępater le bourgois: there is no such thing as *meaning* we put it out
by our ways of thinking. Vocabularies are not God-given(!). Loaded words are
real. Diverse meanings are context-dependent. Information is also not an
'existing thing', it is something we absorb from relations that reach our
cognizance. Context dependent again. Now what is thei mysterious context? it
is our setup in our perceived reality what we apply in a certain case. Again
our doing.
Not two minds(?) work identically in ALL respects (this caution is for
Bruno, who may (I don't know) posit that anybody (with a mathematically
inclined mind would work similarly with numbers, I amnot sure). So if you
identify a dog as a cat, it is your meaning - not mine.

I agreed with Brent that meaning is based on action - I was in the mindset
of considering everything as 'action' until the question arose: what
triggers such action, what provides the necessities to it (I don't know what
to call energy) and the ways it proceeds? so what we see is what we
supposed/assumed. Is that your "real world"?
I THINK we are part of an existence all interconnected in ways about which
we have no idea, but explain it to the ever actual level of our epistemic
cognitive inventory. There are relations that may be viewed in diverse
aspects and the change of our views is interpreted in our physics impeded
thinking as movement, action, change, function, etc.
It is hard to separate our figments from our own thinking: we think in them.
KNOW we don't. Our perception is limited and we cannot include the totality
*(I think thinking in numbers is also only an aspect to try so).*
It is comfortable to stay within our capbilites - we are not ready to accept
that all we know is a fraction that fits our assumptions.

Sorry, I am far from expressing myself clearly, and that is not only a
language problem. Human language - maybe.

John M

PS. My version of consciousness (universal): the course of responding to
information (that is: in the above described sense). ANY. JM
On Mon, Apr 20, 2009 at 10:01 AM, Jesse Mazer <>wrote:

>  Brent Meeker wrote:
> > I think "meaning" ultimately must be grounded in action. That's why
> > it's hard to see where the meaning lies in a computation, something that
> > is just the manipulation of strings. People tend to say the meaning is
> > in the interpretation, noting that the same string of 1s and 0s can have
> > different interpretations. But what constitutes interpretation? I
> > think it is interaction with the world. If you say, "What's a cat?"
> > and I point and say, "That." then I've interpreted "cat" (perhaps
> > wrongly if I point to a dog).
> >
> Well, suppose you have an A.I. computer program that's running a robot
> body--if you say "what's a cat" and the robot looks at a cat and points at
> it, and more generally interacts with the world and uses language in a way
> that suggests humanlike intelligence, do you grant that it probably has
> consciousness and that its statements have meaning? If so, suppose take the
> same program and let it run a simulated body in a simulated world, and when
> some other simulated fellow asks it "what's a cat", it now points at a
> simulated cat in this world. Has your opinion about the
> consciousness/meaning-creation of this program changed because it's only
> taking actions in a simulated world rather than our "real" world?
> >

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