I'm a fan of semiotics as well. Not to be the nit-picking guy but, since we
are talking about symbols and clear communication, it's not technically
true to say that Peirce developed semiotics or that Saussure's work is
called semiosis. I think of semoisis as referring to the actual process by
which meaning is encoded and decoded in symbolic forms, while semiotics
refers to the study of that process and its larger issues of interpreters,
referents, and descriptions.
According to the wiki, Peirce actually introduced the word semiosis
himself, and Locke came brought the word semiotics into use before Peirce.
I agree that semiotics provides a good framework - a better framework than
math or physics in my opinion with which to approach consciousness. The
problem is that it also fails to 'go all the way' and account for the
fundamental capacities which signs supervene on - namely consciousness
Peirce said "Nothing is a sign unless it is interpreted as a sign".
Properly understood, this sentence reveals why no symbol, including those
generated by processes in the brain or logical functions in a program can
possibly be seen as a root source of consciousness. The capacity to
interpret signs must prefigure semiotics, as it must prefigure Turing
machines, arithmetic operators and numbers, physical forces and fields,
quantum states and dynamics, etc.
you said "Comp could in fact provide such sensory signals if the
numbers of comp are converted to analog form signals
and interfaced to the brain. Presumably this is how
digital implants work."
If this were true, then there would have to be miniature plum orchards and
baseball stadiums inside of the brain. At some point there would have to be
a final decoding which could only be into the form of qualia that we
actually experience. Otherwise there is metaphysical never-never land where
Since we don't see any constructed qualia in the tissue of the brain - and
again it's more than digital patterns being converted to analog signals,
because odors and flavors don't work that way. There is no algebraic
transformation or topology which inherently has an odor or a feeling. We
know this because we can't put an odor on a computer screen, no matter how
precisely the information associated with that aromatic experience is
modeled. There is an insurmountable gulf between all mathematical models
and all direct experiences. As Peirce says, signs must be interpreted as
such, which means intentionality and awareness - whether it is on the human
individual level or the level of a cell, molecule, machine, etc. No matter
what it is, it has to have the capacity to participate in the world.
Digital implants work like a cane works for a blind person. They are
prosthetic extensions through which the nervous system can adapt and
utilize the foreign device as an antenna. There is a limit though, just as
eyeglasses won't help someone who is completely blind, the structures of
the brain through which support the experience of the individual person as
a whole can't be replaced without killing off the person. I'm open to other
arguments, but none that I have heard so far impress me as being plausible.
On Saturday, December 1, 2012 10:07:06 AM UTC-5, rclough wrote:
> Outline for a Semiotic Computationalism
> Semiotics is the science of symbols developed by CS Peirce.
> Everything in the mind used to think is a symbol.
> Computationalism or comp is the philosophical view that
> the mind can be emulated by calculations, such as by a
> computer, often using the natural numbers.
> To the semiotician, the world consists of extended things and
> their inextended representations called signs. The physical and
> the nonphysical. So not dissimilar to the world of Leibniz.
> There are two related branches of the study of signs. One,
> called semiotics, is more properly the study of the logic of signs,
> is what I shall be addressing, and was developed by CS Peirce.
> The other branch, called semiosis, was developed by Saussure.
> It is the study of the application of signs (frequently words
> or language) socially, in the world outside. A basic branch
> of this study involves linguistics and the study of structures
> in language.
> So Peirce's semiotics is based on logical mental phenomena,
> while Saussure's semioses deals with the use and
> meanings of words and phrases socially in the world at large.
> Semiotics, being logical, appears to me to be the proper branch to
> study together with comp.
> How could computationalism emulate the brain ?
> Peirce is known to have borrowed some ideas from Locke,
> the most likely one being Locke's philosophy of mind,
> namely that the mind is a blank slate and that all knowledge
> is obtained through the senses.
> Comp could in fact provide such sensory signals if the
> numbers of comp are converted to analog form signals
> and interfaced to the brain. Presumably this is how
> digital implants work.
> So in principle comp could work.
> A possibly workable scheme would begin with
> comp forming signs or representations in the brain
> with electrical signals. Then what ?
> Then the life in the brain-- its intelligence-- takes over.
> The resultant thinking would be semiotic:
> the interpretation of such signs and manipulation of them
> by this intelligence according to Peirce's logic system.
> (the Venn overlap of) S1 + S2 = S3
> Thus a semiotic computationalism appears at least feasible.
> "Forever is a long time, especially near the end." -Woody Allen
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