On 12/14/2012 11:09 AM, Craig Weinberg wrote:



On Friday, December 14, 2012 2:00:47 PM UTC-5, Brent wrote:

    On 12/14/2012 6:16 AM, Craig Weinberg wrote:
    It is in the nature of outer messages that they are not conveyed in any 
explicit
    language. To find an explicit language in which to convey outer messages 
would not
be a breakthrough� it would be a contradiction in terms!

    But from the outside we can determine when a message is passed by observing
    actions.� This is how we've come to understand some of the language of 
animals.�
    The 'outer messages' are not explicit language because they are implicit in
    actions.� We tend to forget this because humans do so much internal 
thinking in
    language relative to their actions - but ultimately meaning is grounded in 
relations
    to the world.� Because other humans are such a big part of our world and we 
mainly
    interact with them by language, we start to think of meaning and language as
    existing in a separate world.


I agree mostly, but I would point out that although we can determine when a message is passed, we can't be sure that a message is not being passed. We infer messages from observing behaviors which are familiar to us, but there be much more going on than we would know to imagine. How much could an alien with a telescope learn by looking at your behavior - or maybe he is only looking at your car and assumes that you are some kind of symbotic assistant?

Right. Stanislaw Lem has written stories on the theme of the near impossibility of understanding aliens.


All of that in the quote is Hofstader's writing, btw. Only the comment at the 
end is mine.

Yes, I understood that.

Brent

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