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6/11/02 1:32:51 PM, John Cowan <email@example.com> wrote:
>W. E. Perry scripsit:
>> I believe that you have just perfectly illustrated the problem.
>Ah, okay. I was miffed because I thought you were accusing me of believing
>that the Ides of March fall on the 13th, or that Caesar died in 43 B.C.E.
>But you are just indulging in hyper-Korzybskian anti-translationism, whereby
>it is entirely illegitimate to identify any two things described by different
>names. For example, Cicero is not Tully, and June 11, 2002 C.E. is not
>June 11, 2002 A.D., because the latter is a fundamentally Christian concept
>whereas the former is not.
>In rubber-meets-the-road terms, the Gregorian date 13 March -43 is the
>same day as id. Mart. DCCX A.U.C.; if you time-travel to either one,
>you can see Caesar being assassinated.
I think what's being lost here is the distinction between denotation and connotation. The time-
travel example treats "the same day as" as "identical denotation." Denotations are invariant under
"normalization" or "canonicalization," whereas connotations are not. If A makes a statement in
which he nominates a particular geographical region as "Israel" and B makes a statement in which he
nominates that same region as "occupied Palestine," both statements denote the same region, and
will continue to denote that same region if the names are "normalized" to a listing of numerical
coordinates. But the information contained in the different connotations will have been lost; the
normalization is not a reversible mapping. Swapping the nominations in A's and B's statements will
alter their meaning. Sure, the transformation will have a fixed point or two; the swap hasn't
destroyed your ability to determine which page of your atlas the region in question appears on.
But I somehow doubt that the "applications semantics" that A and B were addressing were quite that
If I write some character data in an XML document using < and > in several places, that data
has the exact same denotation as if I had used a CDATA marked section containing pointy brackets.
But the connotation could be different. I might have chosen the CDATA section to emphasize the
opacity of that particular character data to some process. The computer doesn't care, but all data
ultimately begins and ends as something meaningful to a human.