IGS Discussion Forums: Learning GS Topics: Aristotelian paradigm alive in "Critical Thinking"
Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 01:31 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Pretty sloppy if you ask me.

All horses eat hay," for example, can be restated as "All horses are eaters.
is not a restatement; it is an abstraction which can be illustrated by "Anything that eats hay eats". Horses eat hay, therefore, Horses eat
That which eats is an eater, therefore, horses are eaters. A "restatement" in the given context would be "horses are hay eaters".

Let's not forget that Korzybski did not eschew or fobid using two valued logic; he only forbids using it inappropriately. All of mathematic and scientific reasoning is based on logic, and Korzybski continually advocated that we use this, but we must recognize when two-valued is not adequate. It it perfectly proper in some areas, but not everywhere.

Remember, non-Aristotelian is a super-set of Aristotelian. Non-Aristotelian is NOT anti-Aristotelian. We do not have a choice to use one and not use the other in both directions. Non-Aristotelian is a generalization built on top of the first order predicate logic and includes it as a foundation.

In other words, non-Aristotelian reasoning has evolved Aristotelian reasoning (first order predicate calculus) as an embedded foundational base without which non-Aristotelian reaoning could not be done.

Certainly a "two-valued" orientation that sees everything in terms of "black" and "white" is less functional than seeing and using color, but black and white are colors too, and their use is often very appropriate.

Without two valued logic, one might do the following:

P then Q
therefor P



Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 07:18 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

What do you mean by "objects outside our consciousness"? Are you using the word 'objects' in the structural differential sense? Or are you referring to putative structures in what is going on (the event level)? Or do you mean something else entirely?

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 12:45 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

How do we base a definition on lower order abstractions?
What do you mean by a "mathematical object"? How are you using the word 'object', in the general semantics structural differential sense? In some other way?

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 10:14 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Highly recommended reading. Note particularly the definitions and descriptions differentiating concept by intuition and concept by postulate. These correlate, it seems to me, with abstraction in the former case, and intension or intensional definition in the later case.

When I was attending Institute general semantics seminars in the period two to three decades after Korzybski's death, however, those running the institute and seminars eschewed the notion of concept in favor of formulation.

In order to "define" a concept by intuition we must present examples and list characteristics, and hope that the listener intuits something that results in their presenting formulations consistent with those examples and characteristics. A "concept by postulate", however, is completely specified by its formulation. So, perhaps we don't need the "eschewed" word 'concept' after all.

A formulation of what some philosophers call a "natural kind" based on abstraction from examples might do in place of "concept by intuition".
A formulation of what some philosopher call a "definition" or a postulate would certainly do in place of "concept by postulate".

In a word, abstraction and definition; in a phrase, the formulation of an abstraction and the formulation of a definition, (the later a redundancy, since all proper definitions are formulations).

Another correlation: abstraction with extension and definition with intension.
Yet another: abstraction with bottom-up and definition with top-down.
Even more: induction (not the matematical kind) and deduction.

Would you agree that any "mathematical object" has a "definiendum", its name, and a "definiens", its definition, which specifies completely and unambiguously all and only those characteristics, properties, operations, etc., that said object may satisfy?

I'm not excluding the possibility of equivalent definition, such as:
1. The locus of points in a plane equidistant from a fixed point.
2. In a polar coordinat system, the points satisfying r2-2rr0cos(a - b)+r02 = c2.
3. In a cartesian coordinate system, the points satisfying (x-a)2+(y-b)2=c2.

I can't resist another paraphrase of the serenity prayer: Great Korzybski, grant me the strength to hold to my intensional definitions, the intuition to recognize my extensional abstractions, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, June 13, 2007 - 12:42 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

The reference that Steve pointed out above, that I recommended reading, points out that Korzybski favored both the extensional and the intensional in their proper places. Perhaps the "discipline" or "community" of general semantics has deteriorated by losing some sight of the mathematics and logic side. Building theories depends on the intensional to insure they are consistent and testable. Testing the theories depends on the extensional, and the data that stimulates the building of theories is also extensional.

The scientific method (loosely):
Gather data (extensional)
analyze the data using math and logic (intensional)
Build or revise theories to account for the data. (also intensional)
Make predictions with the theroy (intensional)
Test the predictions (extensional) (producing more data to gather)
Repeat forever.

In the mean time, use the current theory to navigate.

"N+1" is an expression of Peano's successor axiom. It is not extensional; it is the expression of a postulate that is strictly intensional.

"Every number has a successor".
(x)[IF x is a number THEN x has a successor] {represented by x+1}

The sequence 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,12,14,16, ...
1, 10, 100, 111, 1010, 1110, 10010, 10111, 11100, ...

without a formula must be handled extensionally, but when an explicit formula is given, it become intensionally defined.

(The above sequences are in decimal and binary notation respectively, and they have the same intensional definition, but without my giving you that formula, you do not know what the series represents; you can only guess using extensional analysis.)

So there is a very clear difference between "extension" as in extensional orientation - abstracting from data, and intension. But the word 'extension' has a specific intensional definition in the sense of the objects that satisfy the intensional definition.

An intensional definition specifies the extension implicitly.
An "extensional" definition abstracts from examples and represents an induction (not the mathematical kind) that "guesses" at a hypothesized intension.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, June 13, 2007 - 03:37 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

An intensional definition specifies its extension, but it need not have only one variable.

The intensional definition for both sequences picks out different numbers depending on the represenatation of the number.

The sequence is given by starting with one, and adding the number of digits in the representation of the current number to the current number to get the next number. The set of numbers in the extension depends on the number representation chosen.

If d(n) is the number of digits in the representatation of the current number, then f(n+1) = f(n) + d(n), where f(n) is the nth number in the sequence.

Binary 1 + 1 = 10.
10 + 10 (two digits) = 100
100 + 11 (three digits) = 111.
and so forth.

f("one")=1 by definition
f("two")=1+1 for all number systems.
10 in binary (10 digits)
2 in decimal (1 digit)
f("three")=10+10=100 in binary
f("three")=2+1 = 3 in decimal.

Let y be the number system base and f(n) be the nth number in the sequence.
Then the next number f(n+1) is f(n)+1+int(Logbase y(f(n)))

The sequence is a fuction of two variables, the number of the item in the sequence and the base of representation.

1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 12, 14, 21, 23, etc in five base number system.

I suppose you could argue that with different number system bases, there are actually different definitions. I would counter that there is one formulation given that defines a set of different sequences. The sequences in the set are all defined by one formulation.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, June 14, 2007 - 08:51 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail
Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, June 15, 2007 - 11:00 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Yes, Adding additional clauses transforms the application of two-valued logic from a two-valued situation to a multi-valued situation. The additional clause does that. But the two-valued logic is still the "correct" reasoning method.

The application is more appropriate because it takes into consideration uncertainty by explicitly recognizing that the conditional is not always true, and, as a result, that uncertainty or "probability" is passed on to the conclusion.

Note that there is a very clear distinction between two-valued logic and two-valued orientation.

It's the way we abstract and translate the description of the situation into formulations that makes the difference. Without the added clause, we have a two-valued orientation, but with the added clause we have a multi-valued orientation. But both of these situations still use the two-valued logic to derive conclusions. The logic remains valid and is a central core to the process of coming up with the "correct" conclusion.

By correctly applying valid two-valued logic, we can derive a two-valued orientation conclusion from a concept by postulation, good for postulates and mathematics, or we can derive a multi-valued orientation conclusion from a concept by intuition, more applicable to life situations.

There is no failure or fault with the logic that derives from Aristotle; any fault is in not translating life situations into shades of grey for that logic to work on.

It seems to me that too many initiats or novices, especially those who have no math or logic beyond arithmetic and accounting, want to lable anthing using "true" or "false" as "Aristotelian", and they view that naively as "bad" or "wrong". Training in basic logic truth tables, modus ponens, modus tolens, and the difference between what Northrop called "concepts by intuition" (abstractions) and "concepts by postulate" (definitions) is needed to combat the prevailing "anti-Aristotelian" attitude.

Logic is good. It's the formulation, the translation, of life situations into logical conditionals must take into consideration uncertainty and multiple possibilities.

As the diagram on the general semantics bulletins of past show, from postulates conclusions follow. To fix the eroneous conclusions, we must first fix the eroneous assumptions. That means expressing the uncertainty and multi-valued situations as part of those assumptions.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, June 16, 2007 - 07:48 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

If we view "concept" as referring to the neural instantiation in an individual person, then your evaluation is consistent, and "composition" the interaction of such brain areas. This view relates to "multi-meaning" of the third kind - "dictionary definition" (1) in the same context (2) in different brains (3).

I agree with this to a point. Aside from some rare open brain surgery experiments with conscious patients involving electrical stimulation of brain surface areas, we have no direct access to this level in ourselves or in others. Moreover, every word, every experience, every "conection" is instantiated or implemented at neurological levels uniquely in each brain. "Concept" is no exception in this regard. The word 'map' fits in place of concept equally well, as does the word 'thought'. So does any other word designating anything that can apply at multiple levels of abstraction. Essentially, your description seems to me to be an abstraction applicable to every word we use. Because of that, it does not verbally distinguish "concept" from any other word. Such a map is too abstract to be of any practical use. Can you (or anyone) provide any kind of description capable of distinguishing the word "concept" from any other word at the level of description that you chose?

To use the container metaphor, you've described the container for most words, but not the content of the word 'concept' in such a container. For that we need to look at the historical "dictionary definitions", but when we do so, we are talking about the history of formulations used in place of the word, so we are not at the nurological level of description. Some pet scan research has correlated certain types of thinking as activating certain brain areas, but only in a very gross way, like looking at the surface of the moon from Earth without a telescope. Some location correlation with high level abstractions of some types of thinking or speech have been "mapped" showing some area activity, but nothing so specific as to pick out and differentiate one word (in a type) from another.

Time-binding history, however, has the word in use long before we intuited in any explicit way any neural net ideas, and I think the time-binding history of the word also has abstract formulational descriptions with a significant amount of correlation among users, as is exhibited by dictionary definitions. define:concept See particularly the discussion at intelligent-systems.com, which I think you will find commensurate with your view.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, June 18, 2007 - 11:33 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David, What does "configurable composition" mean?

For each level of abstraction, the immediately prior level is its "territory", and any level of abstraction is the "territory" for the next level of abstraction.

Territory(1) -> Map(2)=Territory(2) -> Map(3)=Territory(3) -> Map(4)=Territory(4) -> Map(5).

Note: when we say the Map is not the Territory, we mean explicity that Map(n+1) is not Territory(n). However, any map can be the "territory" for a next level of abstraction map.

You also wrote "represents some referent in the territory" [emphasis mine]. What can "the territory" mean? Especially in the context of such as word as "concept"?

I'm sure that the word 'horse' refers to a "concept by intuition" - something learned by variable description and examples. Likewise I'm sure that the word 'zero' (the number) refers to a defined quantity that when added to another quantity does not change the resulting value.

Frege developed the notion of 'senses' for word or phrases using the example of the morning star and the evening star. Although they have the same physical referent, they are "not the same" in some way. Frege identified three levels consistent, I think, with what I infer seems to be like your notion of "concept". For Frege, these "senses" were universally shared "meanings".
I can say the morning star is the evening star and be truthful under the physical referent. I can also say the morning star is not the evening star, because I see the morning star in the morning and the evening star in the evening, and I wolud never call one the other, simply because they refer to the times of seeing.
A is B, for refernce, but A is not B for sense.

You also said enable each of us to use the same words, but have different conceptualizations of what those words reference. This just seems like multi-meaning of the third kind (in different brains) to me. Every person brings unique (learning) experiences to his or her acquistion of language. I expect everyone to use words with a varying degree of difference, and I expect the only way to get a "good" feel for the other person's view, is to engage in many exchanges with many words, carefully noting any connections (between words) that (appear to) differ from our own (usage). I describe this as building a model of the other person's viewpoint - one subject to testing and disconfirmation or corroboration. As has been noted in philosophy, several books worth of interchanges may go on before one or the other comes to a realization that one particualar term may have a significantly different interpretion between the two.

I cannot experience your "conceptionalizatons", period, but I can experience the words you choose to express them in. But when I experience those words, I do so in terms of my own conceptualizations.

I have no idea whatsoever as to how one might "synchronize conceptualization" without using words to do so, and that presupposes that one has made some choice about words. Since we each do not have access to the other's internal meaning for words, how can we "synchronize" word choices?

We use words to communicate. Our own personal and private experiences "inform" the words we hear.

When it comes to some physical objects, we can point and grunt and say a word.

When you hold a cup of water and say "water", and I think "drink".
When you hold a cup of soda asd say "soda", and I think "drink".
Where are we?
And that just illustrates concrete nouns. Imagin the difficulty with abstract terms. Hoo boy.

If words are to be synchronized second, how are we to synchronize "conceptualizations"?

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, June 19, 2007 - 11:38 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Would you agree that "concepts" (by intuition) and "percepts" are not formulations?

Would you agree that any particular "conceptualization" is essentially idiosyncratic to the individual, that is, it is relative to the person in whose brain it is instantiated?

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, June 19, 2007 - 11:01 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

If a "concept" (by intuition) is characterized as "idosyncratic" to the individual, and it is abstracted from many experiences, then expressing it by choosing words is, it seems to me, indeed abstracting. This is clearly so because the word is not the thing; the map is not the territory, and we can make different maps, that is, choose different words, to represent the "territory" - the "concept" in question.

A "concept by postulate" however, is completely defined by the formulation that states it. Each of us, however, with our varied understanding of words, may instantiate that "concept" somewhat differently, and we may use many different verbal maps to describe or explain it; however, only the "official" formulation would "define" it.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, June 20, 2007 - 02:10 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail


Are you calling the word 'football' a symbol?

What do you mean by "symbolize" as opposed to "describe"?

I think that if we are trying to pick out something to be a symbol to stand for some concept we are abstracting from experience.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, June 20, 2007 - 09:32 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail


A good part of your experience is hearing and or reading the word 'duck' in association with pictures, descriptions, as well as actual quackers. The only way you could not associate the word 'duck' with your experiences is if you never heard or read the word. From the time I, you, others, were little, before we could even form abstract notions, we were innondated with verbal experiences that we came to understand are called words and to associate with referents. Very possibly your very first experience with your very first "duck" was accompanied by mother saying the word to you. It's likely you, I, and other humans, have very little experience with such common things not accompanied by the word being uttered, read, or recalled.

Consider the very first experiences, before we even begin to speak, in the bath with mother washing us and pushing around, sinking it for it to pop up and delight us, all the while she is uttering "duckie" in the baby talk fashion that mothers use.

Our neural circuits that are active at the time, auditory, tactil, somatic, motor activity, including vocalizations, are all recorded as a complete activatation pattern. When presented with the sensory situation similar, those circuits become active again, and we are likely to repeat our motor activities - including babbling the same sylables as before. Our learning processes provide feedback that strengthens sequences that result in pleasure. So when mother does something to make us feel good in the conjunction of repeatedly babbled sylables, sooner or later, neural circuit activity producing sounds she targets for reward
will be strengthened, and eventually we start repeating sounds that sound more and more like words in association with experiences reinforced by mother. The process accelerates. Neural connections develop and strengthen that "abstract" significantly correlated inputs and outputs.

I don't have the ability to look into your brain or mine and find any particular neural net that responds to a particular word, but we do have pet scan research that shows general brain area activity differentiated by various word classes, so the principle is corroborated.

Neural nets stimulate other neural nets. This is both association and abstraction, association in that one net stimulates another; abstraction that a larger set of network can activate a particular network, and more, a single network can activate multiple others. This would suggest that abstraction is just a special case of association. It also means that the relation between source and result is many to many. In general terms the relation between territories and maps is many to many. Many maps can be made of one territory. Also many territories can fit one more abstract map. This later notion is somewhat contrary to our normal notion of map and territory, but it is a capability of neural nets.

I guess the upshot is that, in light of my expereinces, I can no longer think of "abstracting" and "association" as distinct as my reading of your words seems to suggest. The brain works by neurons stimulating or inhibiting other neurons in a cause-effect pattern that involves many-to-many connections among sets of neurons and sequences of neural circuit firings. There are lots of abstraction circuits that respond in response to multiple inputs, and there are lots of example of neurons that both excite and inhibit multiple other neurons. There are lots of sequencess of activity that simultaneously send feed-back and feed-forward activity. If I try to map our customary notions of "abstraction" and "association" to these processes, I put "abstraction" on the situation where a single neuron or group of neurons is activated by multiple other "circuits", and I put "association" to any situation where a neuron or circuit activates another neuron or circuit. With this mapping, "abstraction" becomes a special case of "association". I see more than one such case, one where multiple circuits are required to be simultaneously active to stimulate (or inhibit) another and another case where multiple circuits can each independently stimulate (or inhibit) another. A third would be when sequential activation of multiple circuits activate (or inhibit) another. These provide for the composition rules "AND", "OR", "AND THEN", and their negations.

You wrote I think the process of selecting a "word" to symbolize a concept is often less systematic than "abstraction".

So picking a word to "symbolize" a concept is essentially picking your estimation of what word is the best, in your experience, "name" of the concept. Name: a word that has a long history of "association", per the individual, with the "concept" he or she "has in mind".

It seems to me that this is simply abstraction from history of experience the word most or best associated with the "concept".

I draw some of my point of view from Jeff Hawkins book, On Intelligence.

Memory recall works by adaptive resonance. A partial input of a pattern stimulates the entire pattern to become active. An example is finishing quotations, memorizing a poem or song. Starting in one place often allows continuing the sequence, but for many people, they have to go back to the beginning, because they have not enough experience with starting elsewhere. Try starting a waltz (1,2,3;2,2,3):[ with "3" instead of the normal "1". (plant your feet apart to start with 3).

An "expert", according to Hawkins, is someone with enough varied experience to quickly recall the most similar situation and adapt it. Thousands of examples are stored in memory, but the one that "resonates" is closest to the partial input pattern. Someone with little experience "hasn't a clue" because they lack the experences to resonate. "Brute force analysis" may eventually suggest a solution, but the proof is in the putting (pun intened) [it to the test]. Once the reward of success is feed back to strengthen the sequence just completed, this new experience becomes another one that can be recalled with enough "similarity" (as defined by resonance). Adaptive resonance makes a very fast and efficient way for a slow biological computer to "filter through" thousands of possibilities in just a few (less than 200) sequential neuron firings. This, it seems to me, is "abstraction" par excellence. We do the same thing with each and every word we choose to utter, but fast, efficiently, and with little conscious effort, because we have thousands of experiences with our most common words. Consciousness of abstraction (not awareness of the underlying neural processes, but holding in awareness the many possibilities and potential errors) allows us time to recall multiple examples and then to use consciousness to evaluate which is the better choice. Some research I vaguely remember reading about recently has shown the delayed (deliberate, conscious) response does not always produce better results. (I'll try to remember where I read about it.)

I think I would not much use "concept" or "conceptualize"; I'd be inclined to provide descriptions and examples for "concept" and use "formulate" instead of "conceptualize".

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, June 21, 2007 - 10:42 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

According to the structural differential abstraction takes place at all levels in the sensory process. I conclude and include that the same thing happens when we are drawing on memory. We abstract from sensory input through stages of evolved processing into an internal representation in the form of neural circuits that record lots of "data" (static and dynamic) that includes a record of what we are doing at the time as well as how we "felt" later. These "recordings" are stored both geographically in the brain as well as in a distributed form that some have likened to holograms as our only similar macroscopic experience. Neural net simulations have the data distributed in parametric values at nodes, and this roughly corresponds to Hebb's theory of synaptic facilitation. Synapses are strengthened to provide for excite/inhibit connections. When we bring forth the information from these memories, using adaptive resonance, we are "filtering" for those experiences similar to the input or stimulation pattern; our brains respond with one or more larger patterns that match the input. This "filtering" is abstracting from memory in a very fast and very efficient parallel processing manner.

Consequently, I consider that we abstract from experience and we abstract from memory. The abstractions from experience are automatically recorded and include learning in the form of strengthened connections as a result of feedback from subsquent "pleasure", benefit, etc. That "learning" increases the probability of subsequent activation of the circuits that recorded not only experience but what was being done at the time.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, June 21, 2007 - 11:56 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

The structural differential is a very abstract model (and very simple). Its structure does not explicitly include either composition or association. No provision is made even for stimulating memory or recall from memory explicitly. The best interpretation we can give to allow for these is when abstracting from neurological to verbal levels. We have to remember that all words are (learned) associations with neurological representations. When we abstract from neurological levels to verbal levels in speaking or writing we are selecting from among many associated words - abstracting from among associations.

The only aspect of general semantics, that might be interpreted as "composition" is non-elementalism - in the sense of verbally uniting that which cannot be empirically split. To the best of my recollections there is no discussion of "composition" as such.

Genetic epistemology, a more modern model than general semantics (in it's capacity as a theory of how we know), does allow for composition (combination and re-combination), as well as decomposition, and alteration (mutation) among associations (representations).

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, June 23, 2007 - 09:12 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Instead of "alligned with the territory" I would write "aligned with our (best current) map of the territory, because we have no direct access to the territory itself; we only have abstractions from it.

According to the "definition" of elementalism, it is using a word that amounts to an abstraction that is higher than our best current model of what we can interact with. For example, we interact with people, and people are described as having bodies that when alive "mind" actions we do to them, so we are interacting with a (combination of these higher level abstraction, a lower level abstraction, etc.) "body-mind". Similarly our best current model of what is going on holds that the universe is a sequence of events with coordinates of space and time; so we should always refer to events in terms of their space-time coordinates. Each such component of the coordinate is, by itself, a higher level of abstraction than the "combined" coordinates".

I don't know how to answer your questions as formulated, as I don't have access to "associated concept". I have no way of knowing what "the associated concept" means, especially in the context of this discussion, because I think we have agreed that "concept" refers to something instantiated neurologically. Since my neurons are not connected to yours, I have no access to your "concepts".

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, June 23, 2007 - 04:34 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

We do not use "concepts" to communicate with, because "concepts" are, at best, internal to people. We use words to communicate with.

If I were a conjoined twin who had neurological brain connections with my twin, I just might be able to "communicate" my concept to my twin through direct neurological interaction. But I'm not, and neither is any other adult that I've ever heard of (doesn't mean there isn't one out there). General semantics (personified) eschews the use of the word 'concept' for the simple reason that we cannot say what they are. For "concept by intuition" we use the word 'abstraction' and an "abstraction" communicated is a formulation. For "concept by postulate" we use the word 'definition', and a "definition" communicated is also a formulation.

You seem to be following Platonic "ideals" or Cartesian dualism when you speak of "concepts" as something that is sharable between people while communicating.

It's using certain words that is "being elementalistic", as the words themselves (used) are the "elementalisms". The abstraction the word is intended to communicate is "too high", because it indicates leaving out an inseparable part. Of course I can talk about a "mind", but general semantics "says" that we don't interact with (pure) "minds"; every time we used the word 'mind' alone we are neglecting the inseparable "body" that goes with it. General semantics "wants" to formulate at the lower level of abstraction by using the term 'body-mind'.

We don't communicate with "concepts"; we communicate with words. With care it is easy to agree as to what words are said, but it is not easy, not even possible, to agree to what "concepts" are involved. The "extensional" part of general semantics is focusing on the words themselves. Through definitions, examples, and repeated cycles of back and forth, we can come to an agreement with respect to words. That's getting extensional.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, June 23, 2007 - 10:23 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

You seem to be using the metaphor that communication is a conduit transferring content un-altered through the conduit, and that word are the containers that contain the "meanings" or "concepts".

My model is not consistent with what I infer to be your model.

You have experiences. You abstract from your experiences words that you have learned through your private and unique experiences. You say your chosen words. I hear words, with luck and reduced noise, I might hear the words you said, but I did not hear your experiences. I did not hear anything like any so-called "concepts" that you my think that your word are somehow "carrying". What I did "hear" is my associated experiences, NOT your associated experences.

When you said, Ralph writes: > every time we used the word 'mind' alone we are neglecting the inseparable "body" that goes with it., you left out too much; you left out the preceeding but general semantics "says" that we don't interact with (pure) "minds";.

What you are saying about the use of the word 'mind' sound like you are taking a position contrary to the general semantics one.

Personally, I rarely use the word 'mind'. I speak in other ways. My most common expression is "mind" is to brain as digestion is to stomach.
"Digestion" is the name of the process that the stomach engages in. For me "mind" is a name for the process which the brain engages in. But I'm much more interested in research at lower levels of abstraction than the "whole brain" when dealing with the brain. In terms of the "whole" brain, I'm much more interested the whole person in his or her environments - physical and cultural. In short, I'm interested in both lower levels of abstraction and higher levels of abstraction with respect to brain-function. The term 'mind' has a strong cultural history associated with dualism and various religious beliefs that presume "minds" can exist without a corresponding body. General semantict denies this, and says, in effect, don't use the word.

David wrote, This "effort" typically involves setting aside preconceptions, asking questions and listening carefully. That you say this, an apparent repitition of something similar you wrote earlier, suggests that you see some people as not doing so or at least not enough. How often do you "judge" other people are not meeting your idea of what this involves?

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, June 24, 2007 - 08:24 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

We cannot "reproduce" lower order, non-verbal nervous system activity from one human being to another, because each human brain functions on the basis of a uniquely "wired" brain that has been structured by unique experiences. "Reproduce" has a strong connotation of "produce the same ... again"; this notion is contrary to both the principle of non-identity of things as well as the notion of continuous change. Even in "identical" twins, the environmental experiences starting in the womb programs the wiring of the individual brains differently. When you say "reproduce that activity in another human being" you are using a formulation inconsistent with general semantics, because "that activity" refered to the neurological processes (structure and function) in the speaker, and we cannot produce neurological structure and activity in the listener which "is" in the speaker.

The speaker's unique neurological structure activated in a unique pattern produces sounds (through motor activity) that, with the addition of noise and the loss of fidelity due to media absorption, arrives at the listener's ear; the listener abstracts into a uniquely different neurological structure producing different activation.

We simply cannot "reproduce" the speakers neurological structure and activity in the listeners neurological structure.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, June 24, 2007 - 09:07 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David wrote, I assumed that you (Ralph not GS) were asserting that the word "mind" was indeed elementalistic.

No, I am reporting on both the writings and the general concensus of "general semantics". I personally don't find the notion of "elementalism" very functionally operational. I have taken note of the words that various general semantics writings have labeled as elementalistic, as well as the "definition" and explanation of the notion.

I see a structure as follows.

1. We abstract to many different levels.
2. The words 'mind' and 'body' reflect (different) higher level abstractions than "body-mind" because of the way our current knowledge model structures or maps what is going on.
3. The level of abstraction chosen is a fuction of the speaker's point of view and is reflected in the choice of words vis-a-vis common time-binding usage.
4. "General semantics" (personified) has labeled certain words as "elementalisms" almost without regard for the level of abstraction that the speaker chooses, and without regard for future contexts in which the term is used.
5. "General semantics" exhibits a bias or value against using the words.
6. Because the words used separately represent a different and higer level of abstraction from the words used together, "general semantics" is exhibiting a bias towards the lower level of abstraction. (A "prescription" for certain speech behavior.")
7. "General semantics" "is" characterized as an "extensional" discipline, where "extensional" indicates attending to lower levels of abstraction to validate judgements, abstractions, resolve disputes, etc.
8. The bias against the higher level of abstractions labeled "elementalisims" is consistent with the extensional orientation espoused by general semantics (personified).

I have a tendency to go along with this extensional orientation because "getting down to cases" has proved, in my experience, much more effective in resolving disputes, particularly about what stuff "means". That's why I frequently include an example to illustrate my point of view. It's also why I go on and on repeating much stuff in each answer. More details tied together, it seems to me, has a better chance of "resonating" in the listener in a way that will allow me to hear responses that resonate in me as consistent with what I say in the first place.

Note particularly my phraseology in my last sentence in the previous paragraph. Please attend to use of 'resonate' in a way that does not use the conduit metaphor for communicating. When I sing a note to a piano while depressing the loud pedal, and I stop suddenly, I can heard the piano "singing" the same note. A purely first person description is that I "hear" something I can evaluate as consistent with what I (remember I) "said". When I switch to a third person description (a general model) in a transaction context, I put this first person model on each person. My neurological activity produces sounds that arrived distorted and stimulate your abstraction into your neurological responses that you process and produce new sounds that I hear distorted and abstract into my neurological processes, which I compare to my recollection of my prior neurological processes, and which include, at a higher level description, comparing what I said to what I heard. I can not know what went on in your head. I can evaluate my associations to the words I spoke and my associations to the words I heard (NO CONDUIT METAPHOR). I cannot evaluate your associations to the words you heard or spoke. There is no connection (according to our best current scientific models). [Cartesian dualists, which hold to the independent existance of a "mental" "substance" and other "spiritual" belief systems (outside of science) perhaps believe there is some non-physical connection.]

If the point of view I expressed above is taken seriously and extremely, one might conclude that there is no communication as such; there is merely stimulus and response that is unique to every individual at every event.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, June 24, 2007 - 09:23 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David asked, Does the word "Reproduce" possess this "strong connotation", or is the connotation an attribution of the interpreter?

This is not an "either or" disjunction.

The first disjunct can be answered by looking at the time binding record define:reproduces, and the answer is clearly "yes". Consequently, the answer to the disjunct is "yes" irrespective of the answer to the second disjunct.
The second disjunct can also be answered yes, because that is the normal response of a lister to any word he or she has any assoctiations for; he or she "attributes" to the sound heard or letters read his or her own history of experiences to the word.

Now, just in case you did intend the "or" to be an "either or" - an "exclusive" or, then the XOR statement would be false if both disjuncts were true, which, of course, I seem to have shown that they are.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, June 24, 2007 - 09:50 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Thomas wrote Ralph, I think you may be taking 'reproduce' a little too literally, it doesn't have to mean an 'exact' copy or the exact same activity, just something similar. It's a good example of how 'similarity of structure' applies to lower an higher orders of abstraction. If I say 'pass the salt' and you in fact pass the salt then I can assume we are experiencing similar thought patterns with respect to 'salt', 'pass', etc.

Exactly, you "assume" "similarity of structure". One cannot "define" or explain similarity of structure without assuming that either similarity of structure is already known (circular reasoning) or that "same" (identity) is also valid in what is going on (which general semantics denies). I've written extensively on the problems with the notion of "similarity of structure" in this forum, at On "Similarity of Structure", and at non-similar structure, and I won't bring that in here again.

Based on my time-binding experience, I can say, "Please pass the salt.", and expect any one of a number of responses. Getting the salt does not require me to "assume" "similarity of structure". My expectations, based on past experience, may be met in a number of ways, my expectations may not be met, and I may experience something quite new.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, June 24, 2007 - 09:57 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David wrote Isn't what you refer to as "the time binding record" nothing more than a collection of interpreter attributions gathered by the google search engine? I think.
I do not perform that abstraction level jump. Google returns a list of formulations wich comprises a portion the time-binding records. "Nothing more than", it seems to me, formulates a change of level of abstraction, in this case from the formulations back to inferences about the formulations.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, June 24, 2007 - 12:32 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Neither does communication.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, June 24, 2007 - 10:26 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David, your "nothing more" claim is patently false. Any sampling of writings from any period or source is a portion of the time-binding record.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, June 25, 2007 - 10:31 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David, anyone can use any word contrary to dictionary definitions, "customary usage", common metaphors, or any other past examples. The word 'reproduce' is a composite of the prefix 're' and the word 'produce', and the prefix 're' generally means "again" or "back"; in the context of 'produce', the constraint is to produce (something) again. If you choose to deny that this entails a "strong connotation" of "produce again", consider that humans and animals "produce humans and animals again", although the offspring are not identical to the parent, they are the same species. "Reproduce" in the context of propagation becomes "produce (the same species) again". If you have any examples outside of biological propagation which do not come close to "copy", please be extensional and provide them.