The grounding and sharing of symbols

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The double function of language, as a social/communicative means, and as an individual/ cognitive capability, derives from its fundamental property that allows us to internally re-represent the world we live in. This is possible through the mechanism of symbol grounding, i.e., the ability to associate entities and states in the external and internal world with internal categorical representations. The symbol grounding mechanism, as language, has both an individual and a social component. The individual component, called the “Physical Symbol Grounding”, refers to the ability of each individual to create an intrinsic link between world entities and internal categorical representations. The social component, called “Social Symbol Grounding”, refers to the collective negotiation for the selection of shared symbols (words) and their grounded meanings. The paper discusses these two aspects of symbol grounding in relation to distributed cognition, using examples from cognitive modeling research on grounded agents and robots.


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