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

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Haig, David; Dennett, Daniel
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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.