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Paul Grobstein's picture

clarifying intentionalities

Lots of interesting stuff, thanks Anne/all.  I've mentioned most of the things that I want to continue thinking about in my summary notes above.  In a general sense I like very much the notion that one needs reciprocity to test for intentionality/story telling, and the movement to think about this in terms of information, coders, and decoders.  For more on language/ambiguity/reciprocity, see Why Words Arise and for more on information/coders/decoders see Information? An Inquiry.

What the session also did was to give me the feeling that we need to be a little more deliberative in our use of language, lest we get into loops of misunderstanding with each other and with others.  In the session, we had a tendency to use the word "intentional" as a short hand for a distinction between model builders and story tellers that I had suggested in a previous session.  The problem with doing so is that "intentional" has at least two more accepted meanings, a common one and a technical philosophical one, that are different from one another.  Both are related to but not the same as the characteristic I was trying to point to.  So, to try and forestall misunderstandings and perhaps even to help both us and others move in some new directions, the table below ...

Intentionality - common usage acting as if there is an objective to be achieved characteristic of story tellers, model builders (trees growing toward light), and the active inanimate (thermostats)
Intentionality - technical philosophical usage

"phenomena which contain an object within themselves"

"the power of minds to be about, to represent, or to stand for things"

an effort to say what distinguishes conscious from unconscious processes; controversial; developed in the context of trying to specify what is characteristically human about thought

Intentionality/story telling - proposed evolving systems usage

 the ability to use representations to create counter-factuals, representations of what has not been but might be, and to make use of such counter-factuals  as objectives An ability of humans that is capable of adding features of an architect/planner to what is otherwise simply emergent behavior.  A property of some but not all human behavior and probably of behavior of some but not all other animals.  Probably not present in plants. 

Hope this is useful.


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