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Haig’s ‘strange inversion of reasoning’ (Dennett) and Making sense: information interpreted as meaning (Haig)

Haig, David and Dennett, Daniel (2017) Haig’s ‘strange inversion of reasoning’ (Dennett) and Making sense: information interpreted as meaning (Haig). [Preprint]

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David Haig (this issue) propounds and illustrates the unity of a radically revised set
of definitions of the family of terms at the heart of philosophy of cognitive science
and mind: information, meaning, interpretation, text, choice, possibility, cause. This
biological re-grounding of much-debated concepts yields a bounty of insights into
the nature of meaning and life.

An interpreter is a mechanism that uses information in choice. The capabilities of the interpreter couple an entropy of inputs (uncertainty) to an entropy of outputs (indecision). The first entropy is dispelled by observation (input of information). The second entropy is dispelled by choice of action (output of decision). I propose that an interpreter’s response to inputs (information) be considered the meaning of the information for the interpreter. In this conceptual framework, the designed or evolved mechanisms of interpreters provide the much-debated link between Shannon information and semantics.

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Item Type: Preprint
Haig, David0000-0001-7377-1605
Dennett, DanielC.
Additional Information: David Haig’s paper, “Making Sense: information interpreted as meaning” was rejected in an earlier draft (with a different title) by Biology & Philosophy, and since the referees did not seem to me to appreciate the radical nature of his essay, I wrote a companion piece, “Haig’s Strange Inversion of Reasoning” and both papers were then submitted to Mind & Language, which rejected them. Haig and I have decided not to expend further time and energy trying to meet referees’ and editors’ demands, and are publishing them together now, in the hope of stimulating a constructive discussion of these topics. I have left the references to Mind & Language in my draft, to help explain the context in which we submitted them: what we see as a pocket of inattentional blindness to serious alternatives to some standard operating assumptions among philosophers about meaning and information.
Keywords: Shannon information, meaning, intentionality, attractors, butterfly effect, bathtubs
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Depositing User: Ms. Teresa Salvato
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2017 20:01
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2017 20:01
Item ID: 13287
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Date: 26 July 2017

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