The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

Conceptual Graphs

Both frames and scripts are ultimately ways of representing concepts.  A broader abstraction with a similar purpose has been proposed by the US mathematician John Sowa in his theory of “conceptual graphs”, which is based both on Selz’s schemas and on Peirce's “existential graphs” (his graph notation for logic).

A "conceptual graph" represents a memory structure generated by the process of perception. In practice, a conceptual graph describes the way percepts are assembled together. Conceptual relations describe the role that each percept plays. 

Technically speaking, conceptual graphs are finite, connected, bipartite graphs (bipartite because they contain both concepts and conceptual relations, represented respectively by boxes and circles).  Some concepts (concrete concepts) are associated with percepts for experiencing the world and with motor mechanisms for acting upon it. Some concepts are associated with the items of language. A concept has both a type and a referent.  A hierarchy of concept-types defines the relationships between concepts at different levels of generality.

Formation rules ("copy", "restrict", "join" and "simplify") constitute a generative grammar for conceptual structures just like production rules constitute a generative grammar for syntactic structures.  All deductions on conceptual graphs involve a combination of them.


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