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Jean Nicod Prize & Lectures 2002



Varieties of Meaning 

(lectures in english)


Monday may, 27th, 4 - 6 pm
Auditorium du CNRS, 3 rue Michel-Ange, 75016 Paris
Ruth Millikan will be awarded the Jean-Nicod Prize after the lecture.
Friday may, 31st 3 - 5 pm
EHESS, salle 7, 105 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris
Tuesday june, 4th 4 - 6 pm
EHESS, salle 8, 105 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris 
Thursday june, 6th, 3 - 5 pm
EHESS, salle 1, 105 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris 
Tuesday june, 11th 3 - 5 pm
Maison Suger, 16-18 rue Suger, 75006 Paris

Abstract :

The project is to explore the relations of a variety of different kinds of meaning to one another. There is meaning as purpose ("He didn’t mean to hurt her" "That is not meant for hammering with" "The eye blink reflex is meant to prevent foreign objects from entering the eye"). There is meaning as signification ("Black clouds often mean rain," "’lait’ means milk," "I think Pierre meant that he really wanted you to go"). And within meaning as signification, there is natural meaning ("Those black clouds probably mean rain") and "intentional" meaning (the meanings of sentences, the meaningfulness and "aboutness" of thoughts). I will proceed with this project as far as I can in the five lectures, pacing the presentation according to audience response. 
I begin by exploring the variety of levels on which humans and other animals have purposes, mean to do things. I then turn to a seemingly unrelated topic: development of a new kind of theory of natural signs and natural information. I discuss the exact relation between natural signs and intenTional signs (with a ’t’), and fashion a new theory of intenSionality (with an ’s’). These ideas are then applied in a discussion, on one hand, of varieties of mental representation and, on the other, of varieties of natural language meaning. The nature of the link between the meaning that is purpose and the meaning that is signification shows up most clearly when we understand what it is for a purpose to become a represented purpose. 
The first lecture will be called "Crossing Purposes." The theme will be that there are numerous levels of overlapping criss crossing purposes that coexist in a human person. The second lecture will present a new theory of "local" natural signs and "local natural information." This theory will then be expanded to show that local natural signs have many important characteristic usually thought to be associated only with intenTional signs, signs displaying intentionality. I then hope to discuss the relation of natural signs to intenTional signs, the nature of intenSionality, and depending on audience interest, some applications. 

Biography (french)
Bibliography (french)

Published lectures


Centre national de la recherche scientifique
(département des sciences de l’homme et de la société)
en partenariat avec :
Ministère de la Recherche (ACI Cognitique)
Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales
Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme