A Comparison of Presentation and Representation: Linguistic and Pictorial

  • René Jorna


In his book Brainstorms (1978) Daniel Dennett makes some very important remarks about man and computers. The main theme of the book is that computers lack intentions, whereas we, humans, can understand each other because we have and use intentions. In the chapter “Conditions of Personhood” Dennett puts the following question:

Do we communicate with computers in Fortran? Fortran seems to be a language; it has a grammar, a vocabulaire, a semantics. The transactions in Fortran between man and machine are often viewed as cases of man communicating with machine, but such transactions are pale copies of human verbal communication precisely because the Gricean conditions for nonnatural meaning have been bypassed. There is no room for them to apply. Achieving’s one’s end in transmitting a bit of Fortran to the machine does not hinge on getting the machine to recognize one’s intentions. This does not mean that all communications with computers in the future will have this short-coming (or strength, depending on your purposes), but just that we do not now communicate, in the strong (Gricean) sense, with computers, (p. 280)

The strong (Gricean) sense of communication is totally based on first and higher order intentions.


Mental Representation Pictorial Representation Symbol System Musical Score Propositional Representation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1988

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  • René Jorna

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