Re: Symbol Grounding Problem

From: Newton, Claire (
Date: Mon May 20 1996 - 17:44:11 BST

What is the symbol grounding problem?

When a person uses symbols they understand what they stand
for, ie they interpret them. However if another person, eg,
a japanese person looking at english for the first time,
will not understand these symbols as they do not know what
they stand for. The symbols by themselves are meaningless
without a mind to interpret them and give them meaning.

In the case of the japanese person, an english speaking
person may tell the japanese person what the word sounds
like and how to recognise the word by being able to put a
sound with it, but the japanese person will still not be
able to understand english. In order to be able to
understand the english a there has to be a direct connection
between the symbols and what the meaning is. ie instead of
saying "apple", to understand the word, an apple must be
shown in order to make the connection between the word apple
and the image of an apple.

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