The Epigenesis of Meaning in Human Beings, and Possibly in Robots

  title={The Epigenesis of Meaning in Human Beings, and Possibly in Robots},
  author={Jordan Zlatev},
  journal={Minds and Machines},
  • J. Zlatev
  • Published 1 May 2001
  • Philosophy
  • Minds and Machines
This article addresses a classical question: Can a machine use language meaningfully and if so, how can this be achieved? The first part of the paper is mainly philosophical. Since meaning implies intentionality on the part of the language user, artificial systems which obviously lack intentionality will be `meaningless' (pace e.g. Dennett). There is, however, no good reason to assume that intentionality is an exclusively biological property (pace e.g. Searle) and thus a robot with bodily… 
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  • J. Searle
  • Philosophy
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • 1980
Only a machine could think, and only very special kinds of machines, namely brains and machines with internal causal powers equivalent to those of brains, and no program by itself is sufficient for thinking.
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  • Psychology
    2000 26th Annual Conference of the IEEE Industrial Electronics Society. IECON 2000. 2000 IEEE International Conference on Industrial Electronics, Control and Instrumentation. 21st Century Technologies
  • 2000
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  • R. Müller
  • Psychology, Biology
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • 1996
A theoretical alternative is proposed according to which linguistic specialization of brain areas is due to epigenetic and probabilistic maturational events, not to genetic ”hard-wiring,” and linguistic knowledge is neurally represented in distributed cell assemblies whose topography reflects the perceptuomotor modalities involved in the acquisition and use of a given item of knowledge.