Re: [unrev-II] Digest Number 59: Where does meaning come from, anyway

From: Henry van Eyken (
Date: Sun Mar 12 2000 - 14:30:05 PST

  • Next message: Eric Armstrong: "[unrev-II] Found out"

    From: Henry van Eyken <>

    No dispute here, John; neither about Doug's fine qualities nor about
    your sense of meaning.

    What I should have added in the "Gazzaniga e-mail" you referred to --
    and bootstrappers everywhere ought to love this -- that from the output
    of "Gazzaniga's" interpreter there is a looping back and thereby an
    interprocessing of the interpreter's output with its input..

    Because this e-mail is not a scientific paper, I might be allowed to
    write a little loosely about some personal experiences that, I imagine,
    is shared by people everywhere. When in the process of waking up from a
    sleep or a brief snooze, I frequently go through a short period of
    disorientation. For example, I am not always immediately clear whether I
    am waking up in te morning from a normal sleep or whether it is from an
    early afternoon nap. Also, it often occurs that I am not immediately
    recognizing what I see or that I actually mistake, say, a line that
    belongs to a door frame for an edge of a table. I might now
    speculatively reason that my interpreter (just as speculatively!) is
    making sense of a visual message intermingled with neuronic processes
    from a dream state, but that autonomous bootstrapping then straightens
    things out in short order.

    The reason for me having introduced the story of the interpreter was a
    concern with different people deriving probably not entirely identical
    views of the same sensory inputs (such as data from a DKR). What one
    perceives would depend on the existing state of mind. One might then go
    through a bootstrapping cycle of quick alignment of the external
    observation with the interior patterns of mind. One might be caught in a
    situation where the differences in what is observed and what one is
    ready to assimilate might be too big to readily bridge. (Just as a
    reminder, I am not talking here with scientific authority! I would want
    to go back over things about this!) In that case one either assimilates
    willy-nilly some square peg in a round hole, or one adjusts one's mind
    ("accomodates") to the information presented. I imagine that in the rush
    of life and the pressure of work such a needed accomodative process
    might be given short thrift. I can also perceive a situation in which a
    human who, though he repeatedly consultsa continually updated DKR for a
    specific piece of information, will still not update himself; for
    example, his faulty memory may be so overpowering for his interpreter
    not to make the update.

    Of passing interest is also that you, John, and I for an instant assign
    different meanings to the word meaning. I very much appreciate your
    perception of the meaning in the Mahatma's making of salt, which
    displays another facet of that simple word, meaning.

    I don't think I am telling anyone anything new that even cut-and-dried
    definable nouns can have meanings nowhere to be found in dictionaries.
    When mother exclaims, "Johnny, look at your hands!" she does not refer
    to what dangles from Johnny's arms; she means the filth that is stuck to
    his hands.

    This e-mail is merely a quick reply written in some haste. The topic is
    not exhausted at all, at all, and my immediate guess is that it will
    take on an exceedingly, uh, meaningful character when further applied to
    what I now sense the educational process should become. It is just that
    I need time, sound information efficiently supplied, the cleansing
    action of criticism -- all things hard to come by when you live out in
    the sticks and you are in your seventies.

    I'll just have to keep on trying, I guess.


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