Understanding understanding: Syntactic semantics and computational cognition

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Abstract
John Searle once said: "The Chinese room shows what we knew all along: syntax by itself is not sufficient for semantics. (Does anyone actually deny this point, I mean straight out? Is anyone actually willing to say, straight out, that they think that syntax, in the sense of formal symbols, is really the same as semantic content, in the sense of meanings, thought contents, understanding, etc.?)." I say: "Yes". Stuart C. Shapiro has said: "Does that make any sense? Yes: Everything makes sense. The question is: What sense does it make?" This essay explores what sense it makes to say that syntax by itself is sufficient for semantics.
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2009-01-28

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