IGS Discussion Forums: Learning GS Topics: Application of Northrop
Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, January 18, 2008 - 07:43 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David "labeled" the object level circles with the word 'concept'. Northrop characterized a "concept" as a term with an assigned meaning. We might have a pre-verbal "idea" at the object level, but we do not have verbal structures at the object level.

Thomas, at least, changed these labels to "... structures", consistent with Korzybski's differentiations.

If we "marry" these two, then we can stack David's "concepts" (as lablel structures) right underneath Thomas's correlation diagram.

There's a problem even with this hybrid, because "concept by postulation" remains at the verbal level, while concept by intuition should have both non-verbal and verbal components.

Recall that our verbal level abstractions, through the cyclic nature of the process, become part of the future event level, and we perform more "object level" abstractions from those neural processes. When we do so, we are, in fact, forming a new object, which may contribute to revising our current concept by intuition or it may create a new concept by intuition abstracted from various visualizations.

These are not the concept by postulation, because they have the added visual component. A concept by postulation, on the other hand, is only what we may validly infer from the postulates and theory statements (both verbal). These formulations can "inform", "stimulate", and evoke "imagery", "ideas", "visualizations", etc., but that's (non-mathematical) induction (intuition) from our experiences and the evoked imagery.

I would agree that a "conceived" structure so generated would be likely to influence subsequent perception of new physical stimuli, but any already formed "concept by intuition" would simply "assimilate" (Piaget) the new stimuli or effect "accomodation" (Piaget) and result in a change or addition to the repitoir of concepts by intuition.

In Thomas's last post, the word "Abstraction" is somewhat of a category mistake (Ryle), because "abstraction" is not located in one place; Abstraction takes place continually in all stages between all processes.

Physical stimuli -> abstraction> perceived structure -> abstraction -> verbal structure (universe of discourse) -> abstraction (selecting from remembered visual expereinces) -> conceived structure.

I also think that we have additional

1. Perceived structure -> abstraction > 3. judgement of similarity.
2. Conceived structure -> abstraction > 3. judgement of similarity.

And, through adaptive resonance, (On Intelligence)

a) Perceived structures -> abstraction -> stimulates conceived structure.
b) Conceived structures -> abstraction -> stimulates (remembered) perceived structures .

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, January 18, 2008 - 10:06 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

"Concept" = "Concept by intuition" & "Concept by postulation" by Northrops own classification system. If I want to talk about both together, I'll simply use the word 'concept' simpliciter.

"Terms" really do not exist at the object level, because the object level is pre-verbal.

Since Northrop calls both kinds of "concepts" terms with assigned meanings, they need to be represented at verbal levels in the structural differential.

When you use the word 'meaning' are you being consistent with a) Korzybski, b) Northrop, c) something else?

How would you formulate 'meaning'?

Where do you stand with respect to the "meaning" is in "people" (only, partially, never) contversy?

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, January 18, 2008 - 10:53 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

You can "interpret" "reference" in the structural differential as the "realists" do. The "object" we experience as "an abstraction" is seen as "an abstraction from" some putative "thing", and the subsequent abstraction to a word is seen as "referring" back to that putative "thing".

Loosely, the "reference relation" becomes an "inverse" of the abstraction relation.

But since abstraction is many to few, the relation is not a simple one-to-one one (relation).

Said by analogy, a word "X" is said to refer to putative "thing" "Y" just in case "X" is frequently and regularly abstracted from what is going on, and various abstractors agreee with each other with respect to "X", and "X" is recorded in the time-binding record reflecting that agreement (presumably "about" putative "thing" "Y").

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, January 19, 2008 - 08:54 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David writes When someone uses a term/symbol we have not heard before, we typically respond by saying:
- “I don’t know what that means”
- “I have no concept of that”

In my experience, a great many people seem to "infer", "guess", "surmise", etc., a "meaning", for an unfamiliar term by combining any prior semantic reactions they already have for any recognizable components of the term together with a guess based on the verbal context in which the term was used and the context or referent of the ongoing conversation. Some ask a third party later; some look it up in a dictionary; but due to the combination of the flow of conversation and "ego" considerations, I think asking immediately the person who used the term what "it" or what he or she meant by it is far more infrequent than David asserted. Although, in academic one-on-one and other technical contexts, his claim may be more valid. It rarely happens in one-to-many media situations, as the media ecology context very seldom permits feedback, and we are often doing stuff at the same time as listening. The upshot is that we have often heard or read a word in different contexts several times before we ever bother to "look it up" or ask. In my interpretation these multiple past exposures to a term in contexts together with the aforementioned component semantic reactions results in a pre-programmed semantic reactions that can be evoked when speaking provides a context sufficiently similar to our past input experiences that we may use the term (often "correctly") without ever having looked it up. By the time we do, we have formed a "concept by intuition", even though said term may never have been presented with a visual stimulus such as the "paradigm case example" 'blue'. Neural networks get "trained" in practice with a set-point switch that says "Ok, training is done, now you have fixed recognition response patterns", but in the human case we remain somewhat more "plastic" to revision. (Although, there are those whose learning exhibits "hardening of the categories", such as my Dad's, "The trouble with this country is the G...D... unions; ..." [Mother says, "Now, don't you get him started!"])

Consequently, I cannot agree that David's claim represents the "typical" response to hearing a consciously unfamiliar term. His method is a trained academic response that only applies in a one-to-one or in a few special one-to-many media situations.

The frequency with which David has in various posts on this discussion board promulgated his view that others do so (ask) with regard to his "intended meaning" - ask questions - is further evidence that people are not doing what he claims here as often as he thinks we should. And I consciously extend this umbrella to cover "unfamiliar combination" of terms, since a "concept" (of either type) may be indictated by not just a single term.

David stated the SD object level refers to the non-verbal space where "concepts" or "meanings" reside in our nervous system. As Northrop "defines" concepts (both kinds) as "terms" with assigned meanings, there is some difficulty with placing "concepts" at the object level.

Northrop does not, as far as I have found, provide any explicit discussion of what he intends by the term 'meaning' or 'mean'. We must infer intensional definitions/descriptions from his context.

He presents three stages of scientific inquiry.

Stage 1 "science" - differentiate between fact and theory.

Description involves bringing "observed" fact under concepts and propositions (p. 36), and that means assimilated (Piaget) to pre-existing cognitive structures. For Northrop "terms" are "theory-laden", so observation is strictly prior to description in verbal (and I surmise pre-vocal verbal) levels.

Stage 2 science - empirical [non-mathematical] induction - Observation, Description, Classification.
"Concepts by intuition where intuition means, not a speculative hunch, but the immediate apprehension of pure empiricism, which occurs in direct inspection or pure observation. ... classification of genera and species constructed in terms of directly observable characteristics is an example..." (N.p.36)

Science in the second stage uses concepts by intuition as described above, whereas science in the third stage uses concepts by postulation.

This "natural history stage" of science uses Baconian inductive methods of observation, description, and classification. Formal logic (and hence axioms or postulates) is not necessary. [N.p.37] Essentially, all "concepts" used at this stage of science are concepts by intuition. Northrop distinguishes this stage and these concepts from stage 3, where postulation and formal theory comes into being.

Stage 2 is not to be depreciated; it is necessary to provide the raw material to be used in the third stage. "If one proceeds immediately to the deductively formulated ... third stage ... before one has passed through the [second stage], the result is ... dogmatic ... and worthless theory. "(N.p.37)

While this gives us some differentiation among some of his terms, it does not give us an intensional description of his use of 'meaning'.

"Pure fact is a continuum of ineffable aesthetic qualities, not an external material object. ... if one forthwith proposes to restrict oneself to facts only, then it is not with the belief in external material object or the other persons of common sense, or with electrons, protons, electromagnetic waves and other unobservable scientific objects of the physics that one can have anything to do. For all these common-sense and scientific object are theoretically inferrred objecs; they are not purely emprirically given, immediately apprehended facts." [N.p.41]

We still do not have any intensional description of what Northrop intends for "assigned meaning".

I strove long and hard to devise a non-circular intension for 'meaning'; I describe it here. Until someone can come up with a quote of Northrop which provides some verbal explanation of his use of the term 'mean' or 'meaning', we are limited to bringing our own interpretation to the process of understanding his formulations.

When Northrop describes his difference between observation and description he indicates that any words used in any description are already "theory laden", he brings forth the approach taken by Piaget when he describes the process of assimilating - fitting existing experience into the pre-existing cognitive structure or "theory". In this regard any description included in stage 2 science is using inductively developed categorizations produced by the process that generates concepts by intuition. [Postulation does not come about until stage 3 science N.p.36].

When David writes "- by postulation, in which case they would provide some form of symbolic expression for us to evaluate", he is being loose and fast with Northrop's distinction; Concepts by postulation require the logic and mathematics formalisms and rules of inference. This is much more structured than simply "some form of symbolic expressions"; it requires a whole theory as well as understanding and use of the formal mathematics and logic involved in valid deductive reasoning. Anything less than this is the inductively generated "concepts by intuition" described in Northrop's description of stage 2 science.

A neutral way of describing this is that

David and I differ markedly in how much goes into concepts by intuition and concepts by postulation.
David (from my point of view) myopically excludes everything except words that name qualia directly experienced from "concepts by intuition". Everything described by an intensional definition he would place in concepts by postulation.

I take the opposite extreme. I exclude from concepts by postulation everything that is not an axiom or postulate (including "law" statements) or produced as a theorem from a set of such axioms (whole theory) using only valid rules of inference.

All intensional definitions which are not in a formal mathematical or axiomatic system and which depend on non-axiomatic definitions or something we have seen or abstracted from multiple expereinces indicate concepts by intuition. All the "concepts" of stage 2 science are "concepts by intuition" - they include inferred categories induced from particulars observed. That means, as Northrop notes, the biological sciences model of classification prior to the discovery of DNA, as his paradigm case example, gives us many more "concepts by intuition" that that which corresponds to "pure fact" alone.

To really understand the distinction between a "concept by intuition" and "concept by postulation" one must thoroughly examine a concept by postulation that does not square with a supposedly corresponding concept by intuition. A paradigm case example would be the concepts of point, line, plane, etc., in contrasting examples of Euclidean geometry and a particular non-Euclidean geometry. I would claim that only when we can see a case of a clear mismatch between a particular concept by intuition and a supposedly corresponding concept by postulation can be be sure to distinguish between the two. Experience only with cases where they agree do not allow us to distinguish between the intent of concept by intuition and concepts by postulation, in spite of all the verbiage being used to intensionally describe each.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, January 20, 2008 - 10:11 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David writes, Before I invest time in responding to your last post, I need to know if you agreed to participate in the "No Sophistry Allowed Experiment?". That is the subject of another thread. Your proposed task is too ill defined for a yes or no answer. Moreover, the basis of that thread is "pushing" your agenda of getting other people to ask more questions when you think they should. Just for your information I never knowingly use invalid logical inference, something I've practiced since my very early "mathematician" days.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, January 20, 2008 - 09:10 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David wrote "These descriptions, in turn, become the initial premise in a chain of deductive reasoning which concludes in a theroy about the object we abstracted."

That depends upon whether one is, as Northrop describes it, in the second or third phase of science. In the second phase, the reasoning is inductive; only when one reaches the third stage does it become deduction, and then only provided one has gone through stage 1 and stage 2. [N. Ch. III & IV.] We don't generally go through first level description straight to deduction, because first level descriptions are not "postulates". (Untested) "postulates" are inferences abstracted through induction.

When the missing steps have been filled in we get something more like:
0. ("event") --Abstraction (sensory & non-verbal)>>
1. object --Abstraction (evoking memory)>>
2. description --Abstraction (induction)>>
3. inferences --Abstraction (induction)>>
4. postulates --Abstraction (deduction)>>
5. theorems --Abstraction (deduction)>>
6. predictions.

The transition from 0 to 1 is already "theory-laden" as the trapezoidal window experiment shows. (Sorry if you haven't yet seen this.)
The transition from 1 to 2 (into words) is more "theory-laden" as Northrop states [N. p. 36].
The transitions from 2-4 depend strongly on the experience of the individual.
The transitions from 4-6 depend on individual formal training in valid rules of ineference, theorem proving, etc.

One does not "deduce" postulates from descriptions, one "induces" them, because descriptions are of individual events, and we cannot get any "law-like" category type statements from "straight-forward" observation. Such law-like or "category" statements are inductions from multiple instances. (Although I once dated a lady who routinely inferred a general tendency from single instances.) If one makes such a statement directly from observation, one has already performed inductive reasoning, whether sub-vocal verbal or not through multiple levels of abstraction, and the result is not purely descriptive.

(Sometimes what one describes as an [inductive] "inference to the best explanation" turns out to be the only explanation the individual can think of.)

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, January 21, 2008 - 08:32 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail


I cited Northrop's pages that you quoted.
There is a difference between abstracting initially into words which are themselves (old) theory laden and subsequently "analyzing" those descriptions in order to induce a more general relation that can stand as a new (theory) postulate.

When we are building postulates to test, we are creating new ones. If we simply abstract into old postulates, we are not moving ahead in revising a new theory to be tested. We would simply be re-testing previously held theory - those cited by Northrop in the paragraphs you quoted (which I cited). In 1 we are abstracting into the "old" theory which Northrop described in my citation and your quote.

In 2 we are doing the stage 2 science of inducing new or revised relations to be tested.
At 3 we have induced new relations.
At 4 we have formulated them as postulates. This is what is the starting point for logical deduction - proofs to theorems - which we must have as the major premises in order to make predictions for particular cases to be tested.

Your previous post left out the stage 2 science of induction from observations and descriptions.

We abstract (induce) from descriptions more general realtions prior to performing stage 3 deduction with the postulates that result from the conclusion of stage 2.

The two paragraphs you cited do not "replace" or "supercede" the two chapters which describe the process. They merely amplify one single sub-process alluded to in the two chapters.

But, in the process of revising our maps, we do not go directly from observation to postulates and then directly to deduction. We must first apply induction to the observations and the descriptions to formulate new postulates that are not at the same level of abstraction as descriptions. Once we have induced new postulates, then the can deduce new predictions.