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tcpkac comments on Words as Hidden Inferences - Less Wrong

40 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 03 February 2008 11:36PM

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Comment author: tcpkac 04 February 2008 09:24:33AM 2 points [-]

Reactions to 500lb stripy feline things jumping unexpectedly come from pre-verbal categorisations(the 'low road', in Daniel Goleman's terms), so have nothing to do with word definitions. The same is true for many highly emotionally charged categorisations (e.g. for a previous generation, person with skin colour different from mine....). Words themselves do get their meanings from networks of associations. The content of these networks can drift over time, for an individual as for a culture. Words change their meanings. A deliberate attempt to change the meaning of a word by introducing new associations (e.g. via the media) can be successful. Changes in the meanings of political labels, or the associations with a person's name, are good examples. Whether the direct amygdala circuit can be reprogramed is a different matter. Certainly not as easily as the neocortex. If you lived in the world of Calvin and Hobbes for six months, would you start to instinctively see large stripy feline things jumping out at you unexpectedly as an invitation to play ?