Compositionality and Contextuality: The Symbolic and Statistical Theories of Meaning

  • Yoshihiro MaruyamaEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11939)


Compositionality and contextuality give two fundamental principles of linguistic analysis, and yet there is a conflict between them as Burge, Dummett, and others find. Here we aim at elucidating conceptual views underlying their tension in light of both symbolic and statistical paradigms of semantics, arguing, inter alia, that: (i) the conflict is a case of vicious circle analogous to hermeneutic circularity, and may be understood as a tension between symbolic and statistical semantics; (ii) the productivity, systematicity, and learnability of language can be accounted for in accordance with the principle of contextuality as well as compositionality; and (iii) the Chomsky versus Norvig debate on the (symbolic versus statistical) nature of language may be considered a broader manifestation of the tension in the form of the traditional conflict in philosophy between rationalist and empiricist worldviews. We conclude the paper with an outlook for the Kantian synthesis of them, especially the categorical integration of symbolic and statistical AI.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Hakubi Centre for Advanced ResearchKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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