still more on abduction and maybe AI

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Sat Jan 27 2001 - 21:08:58 MST

Some salient ideas I tend to agree with and find relevant, from

(2) Sign-mediated cognition implies that every set of data given as the
starting point of an abductive inference is never given "purely", but
always determined by modes of perception, by perspectives, background
theories, etc. Every cognition is embedded within a set of contexts. I use
the term "context" in Gregory Batesonís sense. Bateson gives the example of
the co-evolution of horse and savanna: The evolution of the horses is
determined by the savanna in which they graze as well as the evolution of
the savanna is determined by the horses (Bateson, 1972:155). Thus there
exists one context of mutual dependence between both. In order to define
the meaning of "context" more precisely, I would say that a "context" is a
relation of mutual dependence of the habits of several
entities. Context is not "environment" as a set of certain things
"outside", but a specific relation between habits of interacting entities.
In contrast to the term context I define "situation" as a temporally and
spatially determined set of entities regardless of possible relations
between them. While a situation is a concrete and particular "event", a
context is general in the same way as habits as forms of acting and
perceiving are general.

(3) In contrast to Platonic "ideas", it is important to note: first, that
contexts are not "eternal" but part of a process of evolution and, second,
that these general elements are not disjoined from the "facts" or
particular "states of affairs" which they determine. For Peirce, there
exists a mutual determination between the general and the particular and a
"co-evolution" of both.

(4) If according to point (2) every cognition is mediated by some general
elements, then the same must be assumed for so-called "surprising facts",
at least in so far as they are perceivable. Their surprising character
exists only with respect to certain expectations under certain
circumstances (cf. :CP 2.776; :CP 6.469). Insofar as they are perceived,
the surprising facts are facts of mediated perception, while in their
genuine surprising character they are immediately experienced as "brute
facts" or pure "secondness", as Peirce says. In order to transform the
psychological notion of "surprise" into a more general form, one could say
that a "surprising fact" is a fact which is not covered by certain
expectations generated by certain contexts of belief, although the fact is
such that it ought in some way to be part of the intended applications of
those contexts of belief.

(7) A central condition for taking new perspectives is activity. It is a
simple fact of perception theory that for a child it is hardly possible to
learn to see if the head cannot be turned and the whole body moved.

(8) For Peirce, the necessity of "instincts" results from his belief that
it is impossible to explain the
rate of scientific progress and its success by chance alone: "there are
myriads of false hypotheses to
account for any given phenomenon, against one sole true one" (Peirce,
1905b:CP 5.431).


This can be linked to the J. Gibsonian notion of affordances in the

Damien Broderick

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