Developing Sanity in Human Affairs

By Susan Presby Kodish; Robert P. Holston | Go to book overview

6
General-Semantics and Fuzzy Logic/Sets: Similarities and Differences

Robert P. Pula

The 'objective' (Bayesian) probabilist hedges his bets; the fuzzy logician bets his hedges. General-semantics encompasses them both.

Robert P. Pula

At a colloquium following his Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture in November 1994, Lotfi Zadeh said, as I noted it, "I knew that general-semantics and fuzzy logic had much in common, but I didn't realize how symbiotic they were." When I introduced him on the previous night I encouraged the audience to listen for similarities and differences between general-semantics and fuzzy logic and made some related observations which Zadeh later approved. In this paper I wish to expand on what I said there, presenting a fuller, though still preliminary, analysis than could be done in a brief introduction. But first I will quote from that introduction, because it sets out in a general way what I will deal with here.

Genesal-semantics and fuzzy logic have several, perhaps many, factors in common. They share some originating non-Aristotelian influences, among them the three-valued, then multi-valued, then 'infinite'-valued mathematical logics of Jan Lukasiewicz ( 1878- 1956). They also share a commitment to scientific uncertainty, at least (and at most) partly derived from Lukasiewicz, whose first paper on "indeterminacy" dates from 1906. 1

Another up-front commonality is that both disciplines have names which have caused them great difficulties. General-semantics (largely owing to the careless usage of some of its practitioners) is consistently confused with narrow linguistic semantics ( Tarski, et al.,) and with linguistics in general. The neuro-linguistic, non-aristotelian center seems deflected by readers' reaction to the term "genaral semantics," [a term] which Korzybski came to regret. I don't know if Lotfi Zadeh yet regrets "fuzzy logic," but I do know that many in the very fields he most directly addresses have been put off

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