The Relativity of ‘Meaning’

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IT is now widely accepted that the information content of a message is not intrinsic to the message : it depends on the set of messages from which the message comes. Not so generally accepted is the postulate that the meaning of a message also depends on the set that the message comes from. The following example, though imaginary and seeming flippant, shows decisively that the presence of another message may grossly affect the meaning of what is transmitted, though the other message is in fact not sent.

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ASHBY, W. The Relativity of ‘Meaning’. Nature 187, 532 (1960) doi:10.1038/187532a0

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