The condition resulting from a sign or signal bearing different possible meanings for an observer.
Ambiguity results of the lack of a clearly selective context to allow for the clarification of meaning. It is a perceptive situation, related to languages (spoken, written, pictural or other). E. BUCHBERGER observes that: "Multiple semantic meanings cannot generally been solved in an isolated way and lead to considerable difficulties" (1987, p.57)
Any receiver possesses his/her repertory of interpretations of signals, but this repertory has been formerly learned.
If, for example, we look at the well known young woman, old woman picture, only one of both possible perceptive gestalt intervenes for us at any moment, exclusive of the other. The potential for ambiguity is in the picture, but it reveals itself only through the shifting glance of the observer.
According to A. RAPOPORT: "Even mathematical statements, which most people consider to be absolutely exact, and therefore either absolutely true or absolutely false, have a certain penumbra of ambiguity as they are usually stated. This ambiguity is less characteristic of mathematical statements than of others, but it is there nevertheless because certain qualifications are likely to be tacitly assumed in every statement. It would simply take too long to make a statement irreprochably unambiguous" (1967, p.292)
This problem is obviously related to the need to recurrently resort to metalevels for distinction or validation (GÖDEL's incompleteness theorem)
- 1) General information
- 2) Methodology or model
- 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
- 4) Human sciences
- 5) Discipline oriented
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Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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