[ExI] Meaningless Symbols.

Eric Messick eric at m056832107.syzygy.com
Fri Jan 15 19:38:45 UTC 2010

Damien writes:
>I just poured 3 cups of water into a 2 cup jar. Does the fact that it 
>stopped accepting water after I'd put in 2 cups and overflowed the rest 
>mean it *understands* 3>2? Then I put a 1 foot rule next to a book and 
>the 9 matched up with the top of the book. Did the rule *understand* how 
>tall the book is?

No, I wouldn't attribute understanding to those objects.

You're not describing the manipulation of symbols here, but of
physical objects.  Understanding of symbols is a symbolic operation.

> Computer programs understand nothing more than that. 

I'll agree that understanding of zeroness and oneness is a very basic
thing.  The adder that encodes that understanding is a very simple
circuit, so it's level of understanding must be very simple.

Your brain is much more complicated, so it can understand much more
complicated things.

>This all reminds me of the behaviorist idiocy of the 1950s.

Sounds like you've got a problem with behaviorist descriptions.  Can
you explain?


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