Defining the core of language

What did you say? And what did you mean by it?

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lpdev
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Defining the core of language

Post by lpdev » Fri Oct 27, 2017 2:26 pm

If you read any definition worded in any dictionary you of course encounter new words. If you read up these words you end up with another set of words etc... But at some point, the definitions start to refer to each other and do not build on the definitions of other words anymore. If i talk about the core of language i mean these words and i'd love to find out which ones they are. Space, time, order, direction, equality, same, very same, action and movement are some that come to mind. Currently i concentrate on those words that circle around what an "idea" or "statement" is. If you want to help, i would be interested in your thoughts.

I use a sentence by sentence approach in order to get closer to elemental statements and use the vocabulary found in mathematics and informatics, i hope the meaning is clear for everyone.

My current definitions, still a work in progress, are the following:

==== Basics ====
*Object:
*State:
*Internal state:
*External state:
*World:
*System:
*Structure:
*Reality:
*Logical system: A logical system consists of a formal language and a deductive system.
*Proof:
*Evidence: Evidence is an object or state of an object that is used to prove a statement to be true.

==== Math ====
*Set:

==== Agents ====
*Action:
*Actuator: An actuator is an object that can engender change in a part of the world.
*Agent: An agent is an object that acts on the world using actuators and possibly sensors and has an internal state.
*Intelligent agent: An intelligent agent is an agent that chooses it's actions based on a set of rules stored in a centralized information system.
*Goal:
*Intention:
*Resource:
*Objective reality:

==== Logic ====
*Inference:

==== Sentences ====
*Sentence: A grammatically correct list of words that can be interpreted.
*Declarative sentence: A declarative sentence is a sentence that is interpreted as a statement.
*Interrogative sentence: An interrogative sentence is a sentence that is interpreted as a question.
*Exclamatory sentence: An exclamatory sentence is a sentence that is interpreted to be emphatic and important.
*Imperative sentence: An imperative sentence is a sentence that is interpreted as a command.

==== Attributes of statements ====
*Disproved statement: A disproved statement is a statement proven to be false.
*True statement: A true statement is a factual statement or a proven statement.
*Factual statement(1): A statement that reflects objective reality.
*Factual statement(2): A statement that is supported by evidence.
*Extremely reliable statement: An extremely reliable statement when there is ample evidence supporting it and hasn't been disproved after a significant period time.
*Proven statement: A proven statement is a statement proven in a system when it has been deduced from axioms and theorems using inferences defined in that system.
*Predictive statement:

==== Statements ====
*Conviction: A conviction is a statement held to be true by an intelligent agent.
*Belief: A belief is a statement that is neither proven nor reliable.
*Assumption: An assumption is a belief defined as true in an argumentation system.
*Axiom: A statement that is defined as true in order to build a logical system based on it and possibly other axioms. An axiom is the starting point of a logical (formal) deduction and therefore isn't deduced from other statements itself.
*Statement: A sentence that can be true or false.
*Assertion: An assertion is a premise that is neither proven nor reliable.
*Rule: A statement that is true more often than not.
*Observation: An observation is a statement that is supported by evidence.
*Fact: A fact is an observation that is extremely reliable.
*Premise: A premise is a statement on which an argumentation builds.

==== Attributes of sets of statements ====
*Well established: A set of statements is well established if each statement is extremely reliable or proven to be true.
*Consistent: A consistent set of statements is a non-contradictory set of statements.
*Logically connected sentences:

==== Sets of statements ====
*Theorem: A theorem is a set of statements that are proven.
*Theory: A well established and predictive set of statements.
*Hypothesis: A set of statements that lack supporting evidence.
*Context: A context is a set of statements without which a certain statement becomes ambiguous.
*Logical system: A set of statements consisting of a set of axioms and statements mathematically deduced from those axioms.
*Information: A set of assertions.
*Truth: Set of all true sentence.


*Culture: A culture is a set of convictions held by a group of people.
*Ideology: An ideology is a set of convictions about how people should act in order to achieve a certain goal.
*World view: A world view is a set of convictions held by an individual.

I'm keeping this list up to date here: www.logipedia.wiki/wiki/Help:Vocabulary

Viveka
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Viveka » Fri Oct 27, 2017 11:52 pm

I would define Internal State as:

Internal State:
That which an Intelligent Agent perceives in Qualia--separate from all other Intelligent Agents--in that they are not perceivable by any other Intelligent Agent.

Thus this could also define:

Mind: That which is the Internal State of an Intelligent Agent.

First-Person: That which by an Intelligent Agent perceives his/her/its Internal State

Londoner
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Londoner » Sat Oct 28, 2017 10:33 am

I do not see language that way.

A dictionary definition of a word records its role in language, the meaning of a word is the same as how it is used. So a dictionary definition records the way it is used (which may be vague and inconsistent). It does not try to map the word onto an object, or a concept, outside usage.

So I do not understand what the core of a language could be; you write of dictionaries: But at some point, the definitions start to refer to each other and do not build on the definitions of other words anymore. I would say this is the case with all words; they are not a set of individual building blocks but a single system.

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lpdev
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by lpdev » Sat Oct 28, 2017 11:24 am

Reading your answer it dawned on me that i have two things i would call internal state. There is the state of an object and the state of an agent. In physics they talk about the state of a system but i'm not clear if you would call the position and velocity of an object as part of it's state. I think it's the case and then the internal state would be the object's physical structure, it's properties etc without it's relative state in the world.

When it comes to the internal state of an intelligent agent, am i correct that you mean the subjective state of mind? An internal state of any object is usually not perceivable externally, that's why i wouldn't add that to the specific definition of an intelligent agent. I try to only add those attributes to the definition of an agent's internal state that differentiate it from the more general term of an object's state or internal state. I tend to define the internal state of an intelligent agent as the state of it's information system, therefore excluding actuators, sensors and other components that have nothing to do with information processing. But then i have to define "information system" in a way that it includes every kind of intelligent agent, human, animal or artificial. Hmmmm.

Thinking about it i'm not sure if i even need to differ between an agent and an intelligent agent.

About the word "mind", as we don't say that a robot has a mind i would say that the mind is the internal state of the information system in the case of humans and possibly animals only.

"First person", wouldn't that be closer to feelings, excluding the tactile sensation?

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lpdev
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by lpdev » Sat Oct 28, 2017 11:46 am

@Londoner

I would not see language as a single system but rather a central system that can be extended. Back when words like "plane" or "car" didn't exist, English already was a language. Therefore many nouns can be removed without changing the nature of a language, meaning it's grammar and probably some verbs and nouns. The question could also be phrases as how many words can you remove until you start dismantling it's grammar but i'm pretty sure that some verbs and nouns are also necessary.

I try to get to a more rigorous form of a language, one that does not changes itself with the changes on how it is used but rather bases itself on definitions, which may indeed be circular. I see it like this: a word is associated to a description. Each object that matches that description can be called by that word/name.

But not every word is part of a circular definition. The moment you invent a new word, say A, it has to have a definition but no other word can have a definition based on A. So if you always remove those words that are not part of any other word's definition you will get to a point where you can't do that anymore, that's what i assume at least.

Londoner
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Londoner » Sat Oct 28, 2017 12:41 pm

lpdev wrote:
Sat Oct 28, 2017 11:46 am
@Londoner

I would not see language as a single system but rather a central system that can be extended. Back when words like "plane" or "car" didn't exist, English already was a language. Therefore many nouns can be removed without changing the nature of a language, meaning it's grammar and probably some verbs and nouns. The question could also be phrases as how many words can you remove until you start dismantling it's grammar but i'm pretty sure that some verbs and nouns are also necessary.

I try to get to a more rigorous form of a language, one that does not changes itself with the changes on how it is used but rather bases itself on definitions, which may indeed be circular. I see it like this: a word is associated to a description. Each object that matches that description can be called by that word/name.

But not every word is part of a circular definition. The moment you invent a new word, say A, it has to have a definition but no other word can have a definition based on A. So if you always remove those words that are not part of any other word's definition you will get to a point where you can't do that anymore, that's what i assume at least.
Isn't a description of the grammar of a language also circular?

In English, we look at the way words are put together in use, then we draw up a description of that, then we formalize it and teach it in school as 'English grammar', saying a construction is correct if it accords with our rules.

But language need not conform to those rules. We can get along perfectly well using nouns as verbs and often do so. It is perfectly possible to communicate ungrammatically.

'Grammar' is a description of words used without any context, for example 'noun' stands for 'any name'. But when we use a real name, in a real context, not all names are alike. For example, 'dream' and 'gravity' are both nouns, but are conceptually quite different - different not only to each other, but different to when the same word is used in a different context.

Regarding defining words, if you define a word by means of other words, then that must also be circular. As you suggest, you need to define the word not by other words but against an object. You write: 'I see it like this: a word is associated to a description. Each object that matches that description can be called by that word/name.'

There are several problems with this. For one thing, if one word was attached to one specific object, then it could only apply to that object. For example 'brick' could only apply to 'this brick' (pointing). If it is to apply to all bricks, we have to bring in some concept like 'universals' or to break 'brick' down into simpler propositions, so we could say that 'brick' meant 'all things hard + somewhat rectangular + man made etc.' but now we are no longer relating the word to a basic object, but to a rather vague concept.

And the trouble is that even if we try to simplify further, so that our basic words describe very simple experiences like 'red' or 'hard', we find that even these turn out to be complex, they imply logical relationships that tie them to wider concepts, and we are back in the mess that is language as a whole.

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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Belinda » Sat Oct 28, 2017 6:35 pm

Saussure drew an analogy to chess to explain the concept of langue and parole. He compared langue to the rules of chess—the norms for playing the game—and compared the moves that an individual chooses to make—the individual's preferences in playing the game—to the parole.

Viveka
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Viveka » Sun Oct 29, 2017 6:41 pm

lpdev wrote:
Sat Oct 28, 2017 11:24 am
Reading your answer it dawned on me that i have two things i would call internal state. There is the state of an object and the state of an agent. In physics they talk about the state of a system but i'm not clear if you would call the position and velocity of an object as part of it's state. I think it's the case and then the internal state would be the object's physical structure, it's properties etc without it's relative state in the world.

When it comes to the internal state of an intelligent agent, am i correct that you mean the subjective state of mind? An internal state of any object is usually not perceivable externally, that's why i wouldn't add that to the specific definition of an intelligent agent. I try to only add those attributes to the definition of an agent's internal state that differentiate it from the more general term of an object's state or internal state. I tend to define the internal state of an intelligent agent as the state of it's information system, therefore excluding actuators, sensors and other components that have nothing to do with information processing. But then i have to define "information system" in a way that it includes every kind of intelligent agent, human, animal or artificial. Hmmmm.

Thinking about it i'm not sure if i even need to differ between an agent and an intelligent agent.

About the word "mind", as we don't say that a robot has a mind i would say that the mind is the internal state of the information system in the case of humans and possibly animals only.

"First person", wouldn't that be closer to feelings, excluding the tactile sensation?
I would say that the Internal State of an Intelligent Agent and the Internal State of an Object would be different, then. And, yes, I would mean subjective state of mind. And if we cannot restrict Internal States simply to Intelligent Agents, then what the heck do we mean by Internal State of an Object? Panpsychism? Like you said, the internal state of an object could be code in a computer in binary, but then what separates the Internal State of the Computer from anything else, and are computers conscious? If we are to consider Internal State as that of an information system, then we must take the route of materialism and say that only that which has a nervous system and ability to have an Internal State has an Internal State (circular logic?). Having RNA and/or DNA would be a good candidate for defining 'Life.' However, how do we define consciousness, and what would an Internal State of an Object entail? Personally, I lean to Panpsychism.

First-person is simply stating that the Internal State is self-aware. It describes how we cognize our feelings and thoughts and so on through our Internal State of being an Intelligent Agent, and describes how it is only the Intelligent Agent who holds these experiences solely.

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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by lpdev » Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:24 pm

@Londoner

If grammar is defined based on observations of how people use the language and it does not include the capability to transform a noun into a verb, or more generally a non conforming usage, then i would consider that an error on the part of the people who defined that grammar. Their grammar then would be incomplete.

The sentence "He was gunned down" came to mind. This transformation from noun to verb works because we often associate an action to an object, the gun in this example. But the name still stands for an action.

Now, my goal is to eliminate every usage of language that can be misinterpreted, ideally finding a method on how to create sentences that can only be interpreted in one way.

About the word circular, i think we use it differently. When i say that a word has a circular definition i mean the following: If word A is defined using a description that includes the words B, C and D and the word, say, C is defined using the words E, F, and A, then i would call A as "being part of a circular definition", "having a circular definition" or simply "being circular in their definition". That's how i try to differentiate between circular and non circular definitions.

Now when it comes to words being defined by words and not something other than words, i would call that syntactic, or maybe symbolic, circularity. Because in this case we are not referring to the meaning/semantics of the words like in the above example, but we talk about how those meanings are represented, namely words. This is also important as we can learn, i would not call it define, words by seeing examples in the real world. I think i can exclude such learned words from the core of language as they are part of the vocabulary of objects and have nothing to do with the "logic" of the language.

As for nouns associated to a specific object, those are proper nouns aren't they? In the field of informatics you could call that an instance of a class of objects that you address with a noun. A specific brick would then be an instance of the class of all bricks. Now assuming we have a description of what a brick is, we can call everything that looks and behaves like in the description a brick, including that specific brick. I wouldn't call that vague, it's just that it applies to many objects.

I still struggle to define exactly what i mean with the core of language, but another way i see it is that i try to list the most abstract concepts that exist. So i would look at the verbs riding and driving which both mean "a movement using a ground based mode of transportation". But if i add flying to the list, then i need the broader definition of "a movement using a mode of transportation". Now if i add walking, i can only group them under the most abstract definition of "movement". Now i don't know of any concept that is more abstract than movement so that movement would be a special case of that concept thus i would consider adding the word movement to be part of the core of language. However i can define movement as a change of position which means it's still not part of the core. But with the words change and position i see no way to go further. How do you define position without a word that is a synonym of position like place or location? Same for change.

I still have a lot of thinking to do :)

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lpdev
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by lpdev » Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:03 pm

@Viveka
I meant that there are (at least) two ways to use the words "internal state" each having a different meaning. I could talk about the internal state of a human as an information system which would mean the state of his mind only or the internal state of a human as a physical object which would include things like body temperature, blood pressure, heartbeat frequency and also current positions of limbs in relation to the torso. The second internal state includes the first one. But i was only mentioning this as a side note.

The question about what criteria exactly differentiates the internal state of a computer as an information system to it's state in general is a good question. That would definitely be necessary to be part of the definition of an intelligent agent, directly or indirectly.

About consciousness, that's a topic i'm delegating to others until i'm out of things to do, which might take some centuries :wink: But the very least i think a system would need to become conscious would be to be able to think about itself and it's own thoughts and relate itself to it's environment. I know of no computer program currently doing that. But i am certain we can make a computer conscious, the question is how. I read somewhere that neurologists have made a list of capabilities that are required to make a system self aware, but i'm sorry to say that i don't remember where that was.

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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Walker » Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:57 am

In language and architecture, form follows function.

Everything that exists is based in need, including language.
Need creates the existence of language.

Prehistoric folks had been getting along just fine with pointing to the sky, or the earth, or the direction of the mastodon.
There was no need for any language more complex than Lassie’s bark in those situations.

Language was born of the need to express more complex feelings that grunting just couldn’t touch.
For example, the base feeling of hate was easily expressed for the prehistoric with a guttural growl, however the more complex feelings of love didn’t even have a name, let alone words to describe the feelings.

The fundamental basis of language is non-conceptual sound that reacts with a human body to access non-conceptual states of consciousness such as physical hate and love. When the concepts that describe the sensation match the effects of sound resonance upon the body created by voicing the word, then the language accesses a state of consciousness in and of itself, independent of concept, and can be said to be a conscious language.

In other words, the language is conscious when the sound of the word creates a non-conceptual state of consciousness that precedes the concepts assigned to the sound of the word, leading to thoughts consistent with the meaning of the word.

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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Londoner » Tue Oct 31, 2017 11:04 am

lpdev wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:24 pm
@Londoner

If grammar is defined based on observations of how people use the language and it does not include the capability to transform a noun into a verb, or more generally a non conforming usage, then i would consider that an error on the part of the people who defined that grammar. Their grammar then would be incomplete
.

Certainly. My point being that grammar is descriptive, not normative.
Now, my goal is to eliminate every usage of language that can be misinterpreted, ideally finding a method on how to create sentences that can only be interpreted in one way.

...Now when it comes to words being defined by words and not something other than words, i would call that syntactic, or maybe symbolic, circularity. Because in this case we are not referring to the meaning/semantics of the words like in the above example, but we talk about how those meanings are represented, namely words. This is also important as we can learn, i would not call it define, words by seeing examples in the real world. I think i can exclude such learned words from the core of language as they are part of the vocabulary of objects and have nothing to do with the "logic" of the language.
I do not think we do learn words by 'seeing examples in the real world'. On the contrary, we can only use language when we grasp that the word is separate from the object it might name. For example, not a single word in the sentence I have just written refers to any 'real world' object.
As for nouns associated to a specific object, those are proper nouns aren't they? In the field of informatics you could call that an instance of a class of objects that you address with a noun. A specific brick would then be an instance of the class of all bricks. Now assuming we have a description of what a brick is, we can call everything that looks and behaves like in the description a brick, including that specific brick. I wouldn't call that vague, it's just that it applies to many objects.
I do not think you can give a description of the meaning of 'brick', not without involving concepts that are separate from the physical character of the brick.

For example. in the paragraph above you use the word 'brick' but if I imagined you were referring to a physical brick I would totally misunderstand what you were saying. There the word 'brick' is just an example of a certain type of noun. But even in normal conversations, there is no clear understanding of what counts as a brick; the object used to build a house, or a child's toy, a block of ice-cream, a solid sort of person...these all have some characteristics they will share with the central idea 'brick' but in other ways they are different, certainly from each other.

This stuff all came up in the early 20th century when philosophers were trying to reconcile logic with maths. There was the notion that if language could somehow be simplified then words would be...like bricks! So a logical proposition could be reduced to the words, which expressed facts, linked by logical connectives, like 'and' and 'not'. The facts would be simple 'atomic' experiences. So that names would refer to groups of such simple experiences, so crudely 'brick' equals 'hard' plus 'angular' plus 'heavy' and so on.

As I wrote, this proved to be impossible. No matter how much you simplify, words cannot be tied in a direct way to experiences, they only work as part of a shifting conceptual framework. This seems to be the nature of language.

(This stuff is taken from Wittgenstein, who got as far as we could go with the 'simplify language' project, before realising that it couldn't be made to work)

Belinda
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Belinda » Tue Oct 31, 2017 11:19 am

Londoner wrote:
As I wrote, this proved to be impossible. No matter how much you simplify, words cannot be tied in a direct way to experiences, they only work as part of a shifting conceptual framework. This seems to be the nature of language.

(This stuff is taken from Wittgenstein, who got as far as we could go with the 'simplify language' project, before realising that it couldn't be made to work)
I agree with Wittgenstein's social theory of language. So mathematics and formal logic are abstracted from language as it is spoken, to create those big tautologies. It is language as it's spoken in its social and infinite variety that creates novel ideas.

Viveka
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Viveka » Wed Nov 01, 2017 7:55 pm

lpdev wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:03 pm
@Viveka
I meant that there are (at least) two ways to use the words "internal state" each having a different meaning. I could talk about the internal state of a human as an information system which would mean the state of his mind only or the internal state of a human as a physical object which would include things like body temperature, blood pressure, heartbeat frequency and also current positions of limbs in relation to the torso. The second internal state includes the first one. But i was only mentioning this as a side note.
I agree that the internal state of a human could be said to be those, but those are dealing with 'harmony' and 'health' and only in relation to the body of the human. If we are to define internal state for an object, it must necessarily deal with something 'inside' of it. An electron has nothing 'inside' of it, except for maybe what we call consciousness.

lpdev wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:03 pm
The question about what criteria exactly differentiates the internal state of a computer as an information system to it's state in general is a good question. That would definitely be necessary to be part of the definition of an intelligent agent, directly or indirectly.
I wouldn't call the Internal State of an Intelligent Agent an Information System. I can prove that information is not related to existence: look at a ice cube in a cup of water being video-taped. Now, when I re-wind it, there is the same amount of information in the video, but yet when I re-wind it, there is less entropy than normal,and in forward, more entropy.

lpdev wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:03 pm
About consciousness, that's a topic i'm delegating to others until i'm out of things to do, which might take some centuries :wink: But the very least i think a system would need to become conscious would be to be able to think about itself and it's own thoughts and relate itself to it's environment. I know of no computer program currently doing that. But i am certain we can make a computer conscious, the question is how. I read somewhere that neurologists have made a list of capabilities that are required to make a system self aware, but i'm sorry to say that i don't remember where that was.
I would say that Consciousness is awareness and qualia and intermediate sensorum that is coupled to physical brain states that give an experience that no one else can have in awareness. An intelligent agent is something or someone who or what has Consciousness.

I don't think any computer can become aware because they are always coded by humans to make for a certain calculation. It's like trying to spell ZEN when you have a protocol that only allows you to make a EN but not a Z at the begnning. No matter how hard we try, we cannot insert a Z because it's simply not in the coding. This is shown in the book "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" and, to me, it perfectly explains why we cannot develop a consciousness in a computer. If the computer were to all of a sudden change itself, then it would make a Z. But that's not in the coding. Maybe there is some mysterious quantum computing ideas that can make a computer consciousness, but I have no clue how.

Belinda
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Belinda » Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:06 am

Viveka wrote:
If we are to define internal state for an object, it must necessarily deal with something 'inside' of it. An electron has nothing 'inside' of it, except for maybe what we call consciousness.
Would you say then that an electron is what an electron does? I understand this is the case. We could claim that about a human individual , or a fly, that what it is is what it does for as long as it exists as an entity.

Language is something humans do and it has no inside: it is open-endedly creative. Isn't information open-ended?

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