Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Meaning: Differs from the reference object (reference). The object does not have to exist for an expression to have a meaning. Words are not related to objects in a one-to-one correspondence. There is an important distinction between word meaning and sentence meaning. See also use theory, sentence meaning, reference, truth, meaning theory.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Concept Summary/Quotes Sources

Marvin Minsky on Meaning - Dictionary of Arguments

Minsky I 64
Meaning/Minsky: We'll take the view that nothing can have meaning by itself, but only in relation to whatever other meanings we already know. (…) there's nothing basically wrong with the idea of a society in which each part lends meaning to the other parts.
Communication/Minsky: If every mind builds somewhat different things inside itself, how can any mind communicate with a different mind? In the end, surely, communication is a matter of degree but it is not always lamentable when different minds don't understand each other perfectly. For then, provided some communication remains, we can share the richness of each other's thoughts.
Understanding/Minsky: The secret of what anything means to us depends on how we've connected it to all the other things we know. That's why it's almost always wrong to seek the real meaning of anything. A thing with just one meaning has scarcely any meaning at all.
Creativity/Minsky: Rich meaning-networks, however, give you many different ways to go: if you can't solve a problem one way, you can try another. True, too many indiscriminate connections will turn a mind to mush. But well-connected meaning-structures let you turn ideas around in your mind, to consider alternatives and envision things from many perspectives until you find one that works. And that's what we mean by thinking!
Minsky I 67
The words and symbols we use to summarize our higher-level goals and plans are not the same as the signals used to control lower-level ones. So when our higher-level agencies attempt to probe into the fine details of the lower-level submachines that they exploit, they cannot understand what's happening.
Meaning itself is relative to size and scale: it makes sense to talk about a meaning only in a system large enough to have many meanings. Cf. >Translation/Minsky.
((s) For the philosophical discussion of problems in relation to the concept of meaning: >Meaning/Philosophical theories, especially: >Humpty-Dumpty Theory.)

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Minsky I
Marvin Minsky
The Society of Mind New York 1985

Minsky II
Marvin Minsky
Semantic Information Processing Cambridge, MA 2003

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2023-06-01
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