Meaning and Information, Gottlob Frege’s Sense and Reference, Intension and Extension in Epistemology

In response to a commentor’s question, today’s lecture is more Great Problems and Metaphysics than Free Will. I am hoping that this lecture will also serve to show how the Information Philosopher website should work for its users.

Information philosophy hopes to go “beyond language and logic” because words are always ambiguous and dependent on their context.

Knowledge can be defined as information in minds that is a partial isomorphism (mapping) of the information structures in the external world. Information philosophy is a correspondence theory.

Sadly, there is no isomorphism, no information in common, between words and objects. This accounts for much of the failing of analytic language philosophy in the past century.

Although language is an excellent tool for human communication, it is arbitrary, ambiguous, and ill-suited to represent the world directly. Human languages do not picture reality. Information is the lingua franca of the universe.

The extraordinarily sophisticated connection between words and objects is made in human mindsmediated by the brain’s experience recorder and reproducer (ERR). Words stimulate neurons to start firing and to play back any similar experiences that include relevant objects and events.

Neurons that were wired together in our earliest experiences fire together at later times, contextualizing our new experiences, giving them meaning. And by replaying emotional reactions to those for similar earlier experiences, it makes then “subjective experiences,” giving us the feeling of “what it’s like to be me” and solving the “hard problem” of consciousness.

Gottlob Frege drew a distinction between the reference (denotation, name) and the sense (meaning, concept) of a word. But few know that Frege limited the “sense” to the everyday meaning attached to a word by the users of their language. Frege also described the “idea” or “representation” (Vorstellung) that would form in the mind of the message receiver. This, he said, would be different in every mind, since it is dependent on the peculiar experiences of each person. See Frege, Sense and Reference, p.212-213.

Frege’s distinction is the difference between intension and extension in the works of  many philosophers, including the difference between internalism and externalism in epistemology.

One thought on “Meaning and Information, Gottlob Frege’s Sense and Reference, Intension and Extension in Epistemology

  1. Going beyond language with information philosophy with Gottlob Frege and Charles Sanders Pierce. Arbitrary signs are the work of Saussure (structuralism). Human language is trapped in a circle of signifiers. There is no isomorphism between words and object. Bob talks about this and more.


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