Underlying Formalisms LO6265

John O'Neill (jao@itd0.dsto.gov.au)
Thu, 28 Mar 96 13:04:49 +1000

Replying to LO6252 --

>>I'm curious if you see any relationship between the work of Godel and the
>>(later) Wittgenstein. My vague understanding of Wittgenstein's arguement
>>is that words (all language) cannot, ultimately, be'grounded', that all
>>language is 'a language game' made up by the players in a social context.
>>Does this not parallel Godel's view of mathematical formalisms?
> Yes, I think it does. Even so, two side points apply:
>o A formal language developed by a mathematician typically has a very few
>key terms from which the rest of the language springs operationally, which
>is potentially convenient
>o The formal language makes it possible to be a lot less imprecise than
>natural language, which is booby-trapped at every turn

Can we take this a step further?

- how do you "ground" the very few terms available in a formal language?

- can we socially construct knowledge (language) based on an underlying
formal language representation?

My understanding of the work in natural language processing in AI is that
they wanted to start by pre-defining all possible relationships within
language. For example, how many possible ways are there for constructing a

Even if this is possible, one must question what value is imparted to a
system that uses this approach. An alternative is to construct the
relationships as they are defined and used by a social group (after all,
language is about aiding communication between sentient beings). In this
way, the relationships in a language are constructed as we go.

I'm sure some people on this list will have a counter-view :->

John O'Neill
DSTO C3 Research Centre, Australia
email: John.ONeill@dsto.defence.gov.au


"John O'Neill" <jao@itd0.dsto.gov.au>

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