IGS Discussion Forums: Learning GS Topics: Consciousness of Abstracting
Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, May 5, 2007 - 08:07 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

There seems to be much talk about verbal levels of abstracting.

It seems to me that nigh all forget that to go from one verbal level to the next nearly always involves going through the object level again, going through new semantic reactions, and much more.

Consciousness of Abstraction lists some of those neglected levels.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, May 6, 2007 - 11:43 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Define "composition", please.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, May 6, 2007 - 12:55 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

As far as I can remember, general semantics literature focuses on abstraction to the exclusion of "all" other cognitive processes. I have not even see any substantive references to the fact that we associate the meaning of marks on paper to the "word" they represent. One possible reason for this is that that association is a form of "identification", and general semantics is strongly biased against "identification" in any form. I have argued in the past that, for example, being able to read well requires identification of letters and words with their (idiosyncratic) meaning to the reader. Kids have to learn this. But most, in my experience, general semantists have a strong negative "signal reaction" to the slightest suggestion that there can be any kind of "good" identification.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, May 6, 2007 - 10:19 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

The term elementalism is applied to language and is specifically defined as verbally splitting what cannot be empirically split. It's not about composing, combining, assembling, etc.; it's about not using words that abstract two or more distinct characeristic from something non-verbal which cannot be "disassembled" into somethings that each of the abstract characteristic terms would refer to. We use space-time and body-mind as paradigm case examples. Consequently "non-elementalism" is not about "construction" or assembly.

One aspect of creativity is to put two disparate experiences together in a way that results in something new. From ecology the term "hybrid" has already been used metaphorically in many other areas.

This requires that a person abstracts different experiences from memory and combine them, and recognize that some new experience is possible as a result.

About the only thing that general semantics talks about that could support this is time-binding. Unfortunately, the emphasis on time-binding is sharring of information, particularly through external symbols over generations. No principle of general semantics emphasizes abstrating and combining at the individual level. The notion of correlating and combining is absent from general semantics principles. The focus is on learn to use what is passed on. Moreover, abstracting too deeply is inhibited by the command to be extensional. Moreover, abstractions are "suspect" in that they can become "elementalisms".

I might put it this way: When Koryzbski wrote the manefesto for how to be sane through science, he left out the analysis of data part of science.

General semantics: (*)
Become aware of the abstraction process.
Learn to identify assumptions.
Test our assumptions.
Discard ones that cannot be tested.
Hold all beliefs conditionally.

Nowhere does it say analyze our abstractions, combine with memory and the time-binding record, and create new "assumptions".

One the first things a novice general semantics initiate starts to do is to adjudge assumptions of others as "bad". "Ah ha! You made an assumption!" I've seen this time and time again at general semantics seminars.

I would suggest that the creative process that comes from abstracting to high levels and making educated guess - formulating hypothesises about what is going on or how to handle something is actually inhibited in general semantics circles by the built in bias that says "be extensional", get down to objective levels. Do not make elementalisms. Concentrate on abstracting, consciousness of abstracting, and get down to the extensional.

So, general semantics might be "how to be sane with current science methods (circa 1933), and don't change them."

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, May 7, 2007 - 12:09 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

The "problem", as I see it, is that "elementalism" has an extremely strong negative connotation in general semantics. And non-elementalism refers only to the "put-back-together" of elementalisms. Decomposition and composition, on the other hand, seem much more general and without the negative connotation. I would think that decomposition and composition would be a general analytical perspective - take things apart and put things together - not necessarily the same things, whereas "elementalism" is something we are NOT supposed to do, and non-elementalism is only correcting for elementalism. It would seem that all the positive potential benefit from decomposition and composition would be denied or inhibited by the notion of elementalism. "Build something new with decomposition and composition, but don't you dare commit an elementalism, and if you find yourself doing so, correct it with a non-elementalism as quickly as possible." So I do not see decomposition and composition - as general analytical techniques - encompased in general semantics at all. I think you're projecting much more than what is (not) allowed by elementalism and (required by) non-elementalism.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, May 7, 2007 - 07:24 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

In my view we could not have ever developed our current model of the universers if we had not abstracted the notions of space and time (and mass) as separate dimensions, and applied all the multi-dimensional math to them that results in theoretical physics. "Space" is an abstraction from the mass-space-time continnum, as are "time" and "mass". We cannot have "mass" "existing" without a space-time coordinate, and we have no way of measuring any space-time event without mass(mass/energy) either. The choice to call 'space' and 'time' "elementalisms" without bothering to worry about 'mass' shows a naive understanding of our current model of physics.

What Korzybski labeled as elementalisms are nothing more than abstractions, and most of them are highly useful and necessary for understanding the world around us. As far as "body-mind" is concerned, these abstractions are also commonly useful. It seems to me that neither of the notions of both relativity and psyschosomatic illnesses were in the awarenes of the common person in Korzybski's time. Now both are common knowledge, even if the ability to explain them leaves a lot to be desired.

In philosophy there is a notion in which a more abstract level is understood in terms of a less abstract model. It is call "reductionism" and has been been around and argued for centuries. It's the idea that something is "nothing but" something else, and one particular reduction common around Korzybski's time was the dictum from then science that Man was "nothing but" an animal. Social Darwinism was still in vogue, and "Science" was not yet sophisticated enough to leave religion alone, so people's beliefs were threatened.

General semantics with the three-way classification of life (relabeled as dimensions) promised to make Man something more than animals and suggest that we had a "scientifically based" ethic that distinguished us from animals. This, in effect, provided competition for other religions as well as lifted "science" above the purly reductionist view of man.

Unfortunately, the notion of "elementalism" is anti-abstraction as well as reductionistic. It it anti-abstraction because the mistique that has grown up around it is that we should not do it. It is reductionistic because it takes us from the level of abstraction where distinctions are made among parts or aspects of our perceptions back down to the level at which these distinguishing are inhibited. We go from the ability to talk about the body and its structure in anatomy, medicine, etc., and the ability to talk about cognitive processes, to being restricted to talking about whole persons. That is a form of reductionism, which, when coupled with the "don't be elementalistic" attitude is "anti-intellectual" (anti-academic) [- and we all know, or should know of Korzybski's hostility and resentment toward academia].

So, in the new "official" dictionary of general semantics, I would offer "elementalism" as a depreciated term for certain specific abstractions.

"Depreciated" means still in use, but no longer officially supported. Don't use it in new "official" documents.

Posted in two threads intentionaly. (*),

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, May 7, 2007 - 08:40 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Religions cannot revise sacred terminology.
The Pope is infallabile.

Science, however, thrives on falibility.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, May 7, 2007 - 01:46 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail


Your reply was primarily denial. It did not have any substantave rebuttal of my points beyond denial. You presented the Whorfian hypothisis as justification, and you defended Korzybski's original notion without substantial argument.

You claimed elementalism has nothing to do with decomposition, and you gave no justification for that claim.

Decompositition is abstracting different items from a lower level. Without abstracting "space" and also abstracting "time" from our space-time experiences, the so-called elementalisms are not possible. Elementalism depends on abstracting a decomposition and labeling the abstractions so identified. Consequently your claim that elementalism has nothing to do with decomposition is flat wrong. If you wish to argue in the scientific vein, you need to justify each step with a valid reason, just like proving a theorem in geometry.

Abstraction is required for decomposition.
Abstraction enables us to pick out a part from the whole. Decomposition is picking out parts from the whole until the whole is broken into several parts.

Decomposition is required for "elementailism".
Decomposition allows us to break a whole into parts, and elementalism is picking a part without regard for the whole or the other parts. We cannot do that without having first picked out the part, so without decomposition, we cannot have elementalism.

Consequently "elementalism" cannot, as you say, have nothing to do with decomposition.

A similar argument applies to compositition and non-elementalism. (The proof is left up to the reader.)

Since "picking out a part" is a species of abstracting, all the above depend on abstracting.

Through denial without substantive argument and defense of the original term, you exhibited an attitude that the terminology was "sacred" - cannot be changed - but without scientific justification for the denial of change.

Korzybski then becomes the "infallable" pope of the religion of general semantics.

Where are the examples of changes and updates that David asked about?

General semantics claims to be open, but I have not seen evidences of this, unless you consider some of my writings.

General semantics is largely a belief system - a belief system about how to behave (namely to use the methods of science in our daily lives) - and belief systems in general don't take kindly to internal change. It would not be a "belief" system if it could be easily changed.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, May 7, 2007 - 08:43 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Nora wrote, "YOU assert that elementalism requires decomposition."
I did not merely "assert" it; I showed the structural relations that go into it.
Abstraction permits decomposition by allowing the picking out of parts.
Without picking out the parts, picking only one part, such as "body" or "mind" is not possible.
X must be decomposed by multiple abstractions.
Then a part of X can be picked out.
This is a prerequisite for elementalism.
Without the picking out of a part, it's not elementalism.
Without the picking out of a part it's not decomposition.
Without decomposition it's not elementalism.
Elementalism is by its very structure a variety of decomposition, and both depend on abstraction.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, May 8, 2007 - 12:38 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Nora wrote :"Pick out a part" implies a part has some feature that can be identified, and some existence.

"Identification", yes - accomodation (Piaget) to an "existing" cognitive mapping structure.

No; abstraction does not have existential import. It has projective export.

"Being" or Existence (*)
The question of "being" permeated the early pre-Socratic philosophy. The convoluted arguments centered around what appeared then to be worse than an oxymoron -- the apparently contradictory act of asserting the existence of something in order to deny it. The act of speaking or even thinking something was viewed at the time to have had existential import.
when the goddess points out to her listener that he could neither know nor point out what-is-not (2.7-8), she is precluding reference in thought or speech to the non-existent.(8)
Philosophers long ago realized that words do not have existential import, as does most anyone who talks about unicorns and such. When I used "picking out a part" it was in the context that "identified" it as an act of abstraction. You brought in extential import when you said "implies ... has ... some existence", and you did so contrary to both my assertions and the context. Your objection was to your projection; not something actually in my argument.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, May 8, 2007 - 05:23 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Time to post this again. It summarizes the time-binding history of abstraction as it relates to general semantics before seeking to present a more formalized notion. Abstraction

For those of you without the stomach for some precise language, abstraction, for general semantics purposes, is the transduction and transformation of information from a lower level to a higher level with loss of fidelity or loss of data.

The transduction may be from one medium to another, such as from light patterns to neurological patterns, or from neurological pattern to sound patterns, etc. The "loss" factor is significant. Abstract representations must be "simpler" in structure.

A list of 47 different triangles is abstracted to the set of properties common to all 47, the least of which is having three sides and three angles. There may be more if all 47 happen to have a right angle, or all 47 just happen to have the same area, etc.

In my technical paper I allow the injection of noise, but abstraction must always involves more loss than gain.

I think, now-a-days, I would be inclined to leave the injection of noise out in a revised formal paper and reserve that for another term or process.

Because the map is not the territory, the more abstract level is not simply a passing on of some while leaving out the rest. It also involves a transformation / transduction of that which does get through a particualar abstraction process.
Light to nerves is an example. Lots of information stimulates less information in another form.
From nerves to nerves, it is in the same form.
From nerves to sound; it is again a different form.

Do not confuse abstraction with semantic reaction. The semantic reaction to an abstraction can inject LOTS of information, such as when a single word heard stimulates reams of memory. That is NOT abstraction. But, the abstractor will certainly "abstract" from this newly injected reams of memory.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, May 9, 2007 - 11:58 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Part/whole. Triangle/Pyramid.
Subclass/Class Chimp/Primate.
(I switched the later to provide parallelism.)

Part/whole. Vertex, line, face/ regular solid.
Parts are connected to make up the whole.
Subclass/Class. Chimp, man, gorilla / Primate.
Subclass includes individuals that are not connected to make up the class.

In a set of triangles, a subclass of the set of polygons, the "similarities" include having three sides, having three vertices, having three angles.

Abstraction in classes picks out similarities to "define" a subclass.

In the case of Part versus whole, abstraction is not necessarily picking out similarities. We can pickout the edges as similar in some way and different from other parts, vertices, angles. But that is actually a "class" of parts - the lines. A "part" in triangle abc might be edge ab. The characteristic of a part is that it is a singular entity within a larger singular entity. Classes and subclasses are composed of multiple entites with the degenerate exceptional case where there is ony one member of the class.

The class of people currently sitting in chairs has as a subclass the class of people sitting in my chair, which just happens to have only one person me, at the moment, but sometimes it can include me and my wife.

In principle classes and subclasses have multiple members (one or more), whereas parts and wholes are singular, although a house may have been built with many nails, each nail is a part whereas "nails" is a class of parts.

We can abstract a part by focusing our attenion on it. (This is basic figure/background distinguisting.) We can abstract a sub-class by focusing on similarities and ignoring differences.
That means using figure/background abstraction on each entity in the class, looking for a match with the memory of an abstracted part with the selected feature.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, May 9, 2007 - 04:35 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

The nervous system, at the very minimum abstracts a distinction by focusing on a figure distinguished from a background. In this regard abstraction is fundamental and implicit in everything we can be aware of as well as at lower levels. "Generalizing" is the principle historical time-binding meaning of abstracting, and looking at what it involves - the reduction of detail in the data - the leaving out of particulars - is explainable in terms of the figure-background abstraction as the underlying process. Generalizing involves multiple examples or cases that are "reduced" to a class definition. This is done by each example being distinguished into parts or characetristics, and a subset of the characteristics figured while the remainder is ignored. That subset is then "found in" each of the other examples or cases.

In the wood, the nervous systems abstracts and focuses on regions which appear to form a figure. Each such figure appears to have a number of properties or characteristics. (Each property or characteristic is capable of being independently perceived as a figure also.) So a composite figure is perceived with multiple parts, each of which can be perceived as a figure in its own right. The nervous system however, stores these perceived figures, and new data perceived is assimilated to the existing set of perceived figures, occassionally accomodating data to add a new figure. In this way each "cell" perceived is "recognized" as a variation similar to a previously perceived "cell". Any two such cells may be compared by counting the number of features perceived and determining whether the previously perceived features are also perceived in this cell, resulting in individual sets of previously perceived features. By comparing any two such sets, the nervous system can abstract the intersection of the perceived features as a subset common to both. Repeat the process over many different cells, and there result is a set of features common to all of them, and our nervous system begins to record this combination as a "composite whole". This constitues a class abstraction. All the original members are organized as members of this class because they all have the class elements in common, but they each may have some other elements.
At each intersection of the prior result and the next cell, we are abstracting the commonality.

This illustrates a model for generalizing within the nervous system using abstraction of a simple figure distinguished from its background.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, May 9, 2007 - 10:11 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

The way our senses work is that millions of individual cells all respond in an all or none fashion. This means that the "interface" to WIGO is in millions of individual "bits" of information. The nervous system is designed to respond to combinations of bits in both relative spacial organization as well as in time (sequential) organization.

let me give you an illustration of each.

Let the "o" represent a retina cell. In this simple example we have four such cells in a row.
Below them are four layers of neurons passing the information about that cell down the nerve. Each "t" represents when the signal gets to that level and is an amount of time later.
Let each "+" represent a connection to processing neuron "X". "X" is activated when all of the four "+" connections are active at the same time.
Each "+" is a connector neuron whose name is the missing letter in the sequence. In the first row it is "d"; in the second row it is "g"; in the third row it is "j"; is the fourth row 'm'.

1 2 3 4
o-o-o-o t0
a b c + t1
e f + h t2
i + k l t3
+ n o p t4
| | | | t5 X

If the sense cells are active one at a time in sequence, such as would be the case when a spot of light or an image is passing across the retina.

At time 0 cell 1 is activated
At time 1 cell 2 is activated
At time 2 cell 3 is activated
At time 3 cell 4 is activated

Now, let's look at the neurons being activated.

At time t1 neuron a is activated by 1.
At time t2 neuron b is activated by 2, and neuron e is activated by a.
At time t3 neuron c is activated by 3, neuron f is activated by neuron b, and neuron i is activated by neuron e.
At time t4, neuron d is activated by 4, neuron g is activated by neuron c, neuron j is activated by neuron f, and neuron m is activated by neuron i.

At this time all four neurons, d, g, j, & m are active. Nuron X is connected to all four, and neuron X requires all four to be active to activate, so at time t5 neuron X is activated in addition to the other 4 (unnamed) neurons in row 5.

In this case, neuron X has abstracted an object passing successively past retina cells 1 thru 4 in sequence. Moreover, the raw information is still available at time t5.

Suppose I connect another processing neuron, call it Y, to neurons b, f, j, & n. Neuron Y would then be active if cell 2 was active four times in sequence. It would abstract a spot remaining still in front of one retinal cell, cell 2.

These details are examples of how raw data can be "analyzed" at the celular bit level to discover both static and dynamic patterns in the first layer of sense cells. It is up to our brains to have cells that activate for many different types of patterns, and patterns of patterns, etc, to many levels of abstraction deep.

This is not decomposition, because the data is "already" fragmented into millions of bits when it touches our senses. It's also hard to call it "composition" when a cell is activated as a result of stimulation from lower cells separated in space or separated in time (or a combination thereof for more sophistocated cases). The higher level cell is "composing" the responses of lower level cells. All this and many, many, more combinations have been documented by the work of Karl Pribram and many other experimental neuroscientists. Summaries have been published in Scientific American.

Once we understand such a detailed and extensional model of what "actually" happens at the detailed level, such terms as "composition" and "decomposition" become too vague to apply, unless you say, "That what we mean by 'composition'."

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, May 10, 2007 - 07:19 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

In the description of some "recent" philosophy I use the word "representation" rather than "percept". Moreover, I described this breaking into pieces (fragmentation) and putting together (compositition), as well as alteration. I didn't date the piece, but I wrote it many years ago. The philosophy in question was current back when I was working on my dissertation in the '80's and '90's. See Genetic Epistemology.

This theory describes a perspective that applies to higher levels. A corollary is the "use it or lose it" phenenomenon. If we review Donal Hebb's early theory of synaptic facilitation we note that unused synapses lose their relative potency compared to those that become larger through more frequent activation. The more used brain circuits are more easily activated (use it or lose it). Also, as our brain circuits are multiply connected, any given circuit is part of or has an intersection with many other circuits. This means that a less used circuit can be altered by the changes in the connected circuity, and these alterations can include greater connection to another circuit (composition) as well as a partitioning of the circuit due to greater participation in two more separated circuits (fragmentation).

The metaphor used in genetic epistemology at the higher more cognitive level maps a brain circuit to a representation of some aspect of our physical, symbolic, or semantic environments. Although I have have not seen it so used, I decided to use 'representation' as the cognitive term that corresponds in genetics to 'gene'. Representations are like strands of DNA. They can be broken into smaller pieces and recombined to make new genes. They can be altered by mutation. They can be variably expressed. Recombinate DNA describes both fragmentation and composition. Just as the percept of a triangle can allow bigger and smaller sizes as well as varying angles, a gene can be expressed and altered in different ways. Break the triangle and add another side to get a quadralateral - modify the gene by breaking it into three pieces and duplicating one before re-combining them.

How difficult would it be to conceive of adding a fourth time-delay circuit to recognize the iteration of a circuit that recognizes a line segment four times compared to three times?

Suppose you happen to activate two circuits at once and this gives you a combined representation. Consider, for example, the circuit from high school geometry that says that the third side of a triangle is always shorted that the sum of the other two. Let this be activated at the same time as you have the percept of an intersection. Ah ha! It's shorter to "j-walk than to cross two streets in sequence. Ipso facto composition.

We have a theoretical mapping now that takes us from neurological circuit activation to "percepts" or to "representations" in a way that adds corroboration to the notions of genetic epistemology. And this mapping provides a low-level theoretical explanation that can "account for" composition and fragmentation. Both depend on neurological circuit structures - structures which perform abstractions and correlations. It's interesting to note that a neuron that requires two active inputs to activate implements the logical AND function, and synapse that inhibits another neuron implements the logical NOT function. And, through DeMorgan's theorem, a combination of these implements the logical OR function. Brain cells, however can have multiple connections, so a single cell can implement multiple ANDs or ORs, and through synaptic facilitation, can do so with "fuzzy logic" due to stronger and weaker connections.

Composition and decomposition, as well as alteration, is supported by a modern understanding of neurological networks with synaptic falcilation, and the metaphor of genenetics developed in philosophy - genetic epistemology - provides a ready handle. For the ambitious, this metaphor can readily be mapped to Media Ecology - a "spin-off" or advancement of general semantics with its heyday in the mid '70's. (See Neil Postman).

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, May 10, 2007 - 10:18 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

General semantics is supposed to be extensional, and it is supposed to be updated to keep up with evolving science. The material I'm presenting is the updated science that relates to and extensionally informs as well as supports the notions of general semantics. If you talk about abstractions without the abstractions being from extensional data, you do not have science. In day to day applications of teaching people to use the concepts, the up-to-date underlying science becomes "additional supportive information", and this forum is the ideal place to discuss that issue. Moreover, consciousness of abstracting "should" involve some awareness of the underlying processes, even if you don't need to use it to become aware of your assumptions every time. It all helps.

Pardon me while I bristle... Going back to Korzybski for what was important to him, circa 1933, adds to the perception of general semantics as a cult that insists on sticking to the proclamations of the master.

Note what I said and referred to as the originator of this topic. In addition, providing experimental evidence to explain and or update the explanations is not exactly giving "definitions". Abstracting, as applied in general semantic, is what nervous systems do. Understanding that is understanding how nervous systems, including neural nets that model them, work. Consciousness of that involves both the "third person" explanation of the process (updated for current science) as well as techniques for using it on one's self, such as extensional devices, organismic self-awareness, meditatio, listening to one's own words, etc..

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, May 10, 2007 - 10:33 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

I think there would be benefits, especially if we monitor our own verbalizations. Asking ourselves, about what we just said, "What did I put together to get this?" and "What did I take apart to get this?" would be a consciousness of abstraction technique that just might help us discover more possibilities as well as allow us to evaluate an re-evaluate what we are saying.

For example, now-a-days I teach ballroom dancing. Frequestly a student says, "I can't do ...", upon which I say, "You haven't yet done ...". With regard to Salsa, for a long time I said that I can't master that extra tap or kick on the slow beat. After rudimentary training from an expert, I was able to do it. My "can't master" was a self-fufilling abstraction false to fact. I might have learned how more quickly had I applied the technique, at the time, to myself, saying I haven't yet mastered it. By using the notion than time N+1 is not the same as times 1, 2, 3, ..., N, one can "unblock", and one can catch oneself making an absolute statement, and revise one's own statement to a relative one. This is an example of "decomposing" an absolute and using it. We don't need to go into the underlying neural network structure that permits it, but knowing that we could if pressed gives support to the validity of the process.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, May 10, 2007 - 11:51 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

By "extensional" I mean based in empirical and or checked out at lower levels of abstraction. Being empirical about what general semantics "predicts" would involve testing the prediction, in this case by collecting data and subjecting it to rigorous analysis and or by conducting some experiments. To date I know of no hard research on the effacy of using general semantics, but then I have not searched for such either.

Being extensional in the field of general semantics means, among other things, using the extensional devices as a tool to encourage consciousness of abstracting, using consciousness of abstraction to recall that our abstractions are maps and not the territory, being prepared to move to lower levels of abstraction whenever differences become apparent, providing examples to back up abstract statements, etc..

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, May 12, 2007 - 07:27 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

The short answer is "yes".

The principle characteristic of abstracting in the same medium involves loss of detail. The contrasting, reverse, "opposite", etc., process is the addition of detail. In electronic circuits this is generally called "noise". Hilgartner's failed attempt to create a formal language representation used the word "particularize" as a contrasting notion to "generalize". I often use the phrase "supply an example". An example taken from the existing data would be a variety of abstracting - picking out one from many. But an example that is "made up" to satisfy the general case is the addition of "unreal" data and is an example of noise generation that just happens to match the general principle.

If we have a general principle, and we make up examples without regard for the data, then we just might have an example of the "reverse order of abstracting" that Korzybski may be interpreted as applying to the un-sane or even the insane. It happens when one makes a prediction and then refuses to believe it has not come true.

The term 'specifying' would certainly refer to the first case above - picking out one example from a set of data, whereas the term 'particularizing' would be more general and apply to both specifying as well as making up an example. I think, however, that 'specifying' is general enough to be a synonym, depending on the user, for 'particularizing'. I myself am partial to "deduction" and "induction", as deduction is strictly truth preserving, but induction is not (except mathematical induction, which is a special case of deduction). But for non-truth preserving, both 'generalizing' and 'particularizing' have nicely contrasting similarity.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, May 12, 2007 - 10:20 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Thomas wrote, Suppose I make a statement like "the tree has leaves" and you close your eyes and imagine a tree with leaves. Then when you look at the tree ...

When you say "the" tree, you are using an English construction which presumes that a particular tree has previously been identified or referenced (specified). It is already "specific" to a particular tree. If you wanted to be at a more general level of abstraction the word 'the' would have to be replaced with 'a' or 'some' or possibly even 'all'. When the person recalls from memory a generic tree with generic leaves, he or she will particularize that only if pressed to do so, and in which case, he or she will get down to visualizing something from his or her specific past.

The use of the word 'the' involves specified, and that involves specifying previously.
The recall of a specific past experience involves specifying.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, May 12, 2007 - 09:05 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

When we emphasize similarities and ignore differences", we can visualize it like venn diagrams. The similarities are in the intersection area. Our nervous systems perform this kind of operation effortlessly because we believe there are correspononding neural networks structures interacting in just the way we visualize the venn diagrams. At some level of abstraction our seeing the intersection as a figure while the remainder is seen as part of the background just "is" (reductionist perspective) heightened activity in the shared neural network (the intersection or the commonalities). Higher level neurological networks "notice" the active area in the intersection.

Remember that the corpus callosum connect the two halves of the brain, allowing each half to monitor the activity in the other half.

The principle of comparison boils down, at the lowest level of abstraction with the simplest neurological structure as equivent to the logical not exclusive or, and I believe this can be implmented in a simple neural net with only six or seven cells using both forward stimulation and inihibition at the synapses. I recall seeing the diagram, but I can't find it just now. One cell handles the "a" input, one cell handles the "b" input, another cell supplies a constant "on" signal, and the remainder combine in such a way that one implements a or b another implements a and b, and another implements a matches b.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, May 13, 2007 - 08:19 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David, Yes.

What I meant by the lowest level of abstraction vis-a-vis neural nets was the smallest or minimal number of cells required to do the job. The circuit in question is an abstraction from studying the way the brain cells interconnect that reduces the data to a single case. There are many such cells with a great number of synapses connecting in many ways. Multiple synapses provide for redundancy and reliability. But to understand as a simple model or map what is going on requires us to represent all the multiple connections as if it were one.

From the point of view of general semantics abstracting, the lowest level would be the inputs of the two cells that abstractedly represent sensory data. The comparator circuits may be used and connected at many different levels of abstraction, so that we can compare high level abstractions as well as single bits of input data. These comparator circuits can be connected to the outputs of basic sensory input, the outputs of memory, as well as the outputs of abstract processing.

I used "lowest level of abstraction" when I could have used "essence", but "essence" does not play well in this theater. "Essence" would play well in philosophy. It is a reductionist perspective that reduces comparison in neural nets to the simplest possible minimal structure.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, May 13, 2007 - 09:27 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

The structural differential uses the term 'characteristic'; however, "attribute" would be a good choice, since "attribute" implies that we attribute the characteristic or "property" to something.

Metaphysics: What is. : Property or characteristic.
Epistemology: How we know: Attribute.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, May 13, 2007 - 11:36 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Thomas wrote: Our cells respond to a certain frequencies, but not others so in a sense they are 'ignoring' some frequencies while 'emphasizing' others.

I would not use the word 'emphasize' in this context because 'emphasize' implies that something is highlighted so as to make it stand out from the context. In the case of cells responding to certain frequencies and not to others, there is no context for the response to stand out from. To illustrate, we have a visual blind spot in each eye, but we do not "see" a "hole" in our visual field. Click on Blind Spot and you should see a screen that will allow you to experience the phenomenon under conscious control. Certain frequencies (which we attribute to WIGO) activate chemical reactions in some sense cells. Other frequences are not detected. I would also not use the word "ignored" because that implies detected but not responded to.

Using instrumentation that responds with a broad range of frequencies we can compare the frequency response of certain sense cells and repeatably discover that the range over which the cells respond correspond to a narrow range of frequencies of those that the instrumentation responds with.

The choice of the word 'with' was carefully considered and is significant, as it draws attention to the output of the instrument as well as the measured output of the cell. 'With' was chosen specifically NOT to suggest that we know something about any putative "cause" of those inputs.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, May 14, 2007 - 10:21 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Thomas wrote "frequency of lightwaves", is part of a physical theory about the underlying structure of WIGO independent of our abstractions.

They are not independent of our abstractions. They represent concensus explanations to account for our abstractions.

A 'property' or 'characteristic' represents something presumed to cause a particular singular abstraction - and a fairly high level abstraction at that, because "properties" and "characteristics" are generally singular names for elementalistic high level abstractions.

See what NYU has for fourth grade on properties of matter.

An "attribute" is a "property" attributed by us to what is going on.

If we talk of 'properties' we are choosing a language that is used in philosophy and in the realist perspective. Users of this language style don't care much about the semantic relation between what is going on and them; they are interested in quickly "identifying" the semantic representation with the referent so as to deal with the referent. The same is true of characteristics, however, this term is more appropro of symbolic environments involving social and personal areas, but in the realist environment it seems synonymous with 'property'.

Attribute, however, has a built in awareness of the semantic relation between the symbolic environment and the supposed referent.

I think this distinction is important, and that use of 'attribute' more consistent with consciousness of abstracting.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, May 14, 2007 - 11:25 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

A well known example: The neutrino was predicted by mathematical physicists long before it was finally detected by instrumentation.

Both the prediction and the data analysis that concluded it was detected are very high level abstractions. The former a projection and the latter a corroboration.

Marshall Mcluhan characterized media (and instrumentation) as extensions of our senses.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, May 14, 2007 - 12:37 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

No. See these definitions. A scientific preduction about what one may find in the result of an experiment may assist in locating where and how to look, but it does not physically "cause" the result that was predicted.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, May 14, 2007 - 02:40 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

This does not create the dual nature of energy. It's an example of how and where to look.

How something looks to us is often determined by the choice of viewing medium. It's like feeling the side of a drum compared to listening to it. We are using different senses. With light we are using different extensions of our senses, and this is comparable to using different senses.

Like the blind men and the elephant, we do not know what light "is like" that would allow us to experience each of the ways of "seeing" it (particle or wave) as a facet of some perceived whole (except possibly for some mathematical physics).

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

"Show" not "get".

Experiments produce data, and data may be interpreted as agreeing with the prediction or not agreeing with it; some times the data is ambiguous with respect to the predicted result.

I'm inclined to be very precise with my use of terms. Experiments don't "exhibit"; an experiment produces

The subject of the experiment would be that which "exhibits" a wave like property or a particle like property, and this depends on the structure of the experiment.

It would be more accurate to say, "Some experiments show 'wave-like' ...", because the more general 'show' does not suffer the same limitations as 'exhibit'.

An experiment is based on a prediction by a theory, and a prediction is of something that can be observed. The theory may have hypotheses, but hypotheses normally do not directly state what will be seen. The hypotheses are part of the standard model of physics from which the predictions are derived.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - 11:29 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

We have three levels of meaning discussed in multi-meaning in the context of general semantics. The first of these levels is the "dictionary definition", which anyone can look up. This is relatively fixed for an extended period of time, and it serves as the "jumping off" point for the standard. It is a standard, but one that varies with the culture, and it slowly evolves in time. Nevertheless, at a given point in time in a given culture / universe of discourse it is relatively fixed.

When we chose a term to symbolize one's internal meaning, one must take into consideration how that term is used in general by the general population, the target audience and the context.

In general semantics circles I see a lot of imprecise use of language sometimes supported by the argument that "meaning is only in people". Trying to communicate with such is like trying to build a sky-scraper out of rubber beams. In order to get much height, we have to have an extremely wide base. But make the beams out of rigid steel, and we can get quite high without having to have such a wide base. The more precise we are with our use of terms the more solid the structure we create.

I will continue to be very precise with my use of terms - precise in a couple of ways. I will continually check the web for definitions to validate my use is consistent with the general culture, but I will give priority to scientifically compatible and technical definitions. And I will continue to analyze the underlying structure within the general semantics and philosophical perspectives - time-binding - and scientific updates.

The term 'compose', for me, implies a putting together of pieces into a structure "made up of" parts with relations among the parts. Giving attention to inferring, based on the fomulation heard, what "structure" the speaker's use of the terms implies seems to be what we do all the time when we respond not to what the person says but to what we think they mean. When this is done consciously and delibertly, one tries to build a conscious model of, to put it in the venacular, "where the other person's head is at". This is what I do prior to supplying different ("correcting") formulations, but I do so when I seem to see an inferred structure with too few parts or parts interconnected in an inconsistent way, etc.

Active verbs generally require animate subjects.
An experiment is not an animate subject; it is a procedure followed by experimenters.

"Show" is a very general special case active verb that is used as a shorthand that takes the observer out of the formulation.

Technically, "show" requires an animate subject, but the only animate subject is the observer that is missing from the formulation. A "shows" B (to X). means that "X can see B in A".

When X runs an experiment choosing a protocol, the process yields data A which the experimenter may interpret as entailing B. The choice of protocol determines what data may be abstracted, and the interpretation becomes how that data is assimilated into the model(s) the experimenter cognizes. I chose a protocol that tests for wave-like properties. I put on my rose colored magnifying glasses. I chose a protocol that tests for particle-like properties. I put on my green colored magnifying glasses. (We don't have a composite model showing wave and partical characteristics as special cases. If I don't have magnifying glasses on, I can not see any detail.)

De Broiglie shows how to calculate one from the other. This is a horizontal back and forth, but it does not show a composite structure of which each is a part. We simply do not have a coherent "concept" of mass=energy that lets us see a visualization of how it unfolds as waves or as particles. We have an X view and we have a Y view but we do not have a Z (=XY) view. Compare a watercolor picture with a pointilism picture. Beter yet, compare the pointilism picture with a holograph. Look at both close up under normal light. I neither can we see the scene. Step back from the pointilism picture and see the scene. Illuminate the holograph with coherent light and see the scene.

In the case of light or matter, we don't know what the scene is (is like), as we can only see the waves or the particles. Giving it a name, 'wavicle', does not give us any visual referent for the term.

My disseratation was on Atomism and Infinite Disability, tracing the arguments from the pre-Socratics of the seventh century BC to the present (1993), resolving the arguments in the light of modern science, mathematics, and general semantics perspectives. One thing that came out of my studies seems to be that seeing particles (atomism) and seeing waves (infinite divisibility) are independently consistent ways of seeing or conceiving, though they are incompatible directly with each other. Another pair of terms that align with these is counting wholes as opposed to measuring bulk. Yet another is analog versus digital. As one wag said, "there are two kinds of people in the world, those who divide the population into two kinds and those who do not." Our nervous system allows us to pick out wholes with cells that activate in response to a network of active cells. This is abstraction pure and simple. My conclusion, just like De Broiglie, showed that each can produce the other, but you cannot simultaneously hold both at once. Perhaps the search for that ability or perspective is the holy grail of cognition.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - 01:46 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

What? You ask that question after reading my dissertation? Cut to the chase, see Some Final Remarks.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - 09:04 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

The precision of mathematical physics gives us our ability to model the universe.

In ancient Greece there were four elements, earth, fire, water, and air. Now we have quarks within basic particles within atoms within molecules. In ancient Greece metaphysics was explained using natural languages, and the Pythagoreans saw numbers as mystical. Today we use mathematical physics to model our universe.

The syntax of modern mathematical physics is not open to questions of whether each may use the terms and formula differently. Time-binding passes on precise and consistent usage that each new generation must use "exactly" as specified. Add one and one and get two whether you write it as i+i=ii, 1+1=2, or 1+1=10. This did not change when Newton developed calculus (Leibniz published first). Neither addition nor calculus changed when non-Euclidean geometries were discovered/invented.

The golden gate bridge could never have been built if all the contractors used different size or shaped parts.

Drop a rubber ball and it bounces. Drop a ball of silly putty and it splats, because it has two soft a structure to preserve the energy in kinetic form.

Science is not the only human activity, but general semantics, which says that mathematics is the only language with structure similar to reality, advocates applying the methods of science in our daily lives with respect to abstracting and understanding, and that, it seems to me, means using the strength and power which derives from the precision of mathematics.

Use sloppy, imprecise, and rubbery or wishy-washy language in politics, in art, in psycho-babble, even in science fiction, for entertainment, etc., but do not use it for building our model (map) of what is going on, as that will impair our navigation. Language is our medium for understanding our world, and the more precise our language in this area the better we will be able to understand it.

The growth, however, of human knowledge structure has required the ability to look beyond the existing structures, always adding more detail and precision at each stage while simplifying the more abstract levels. But this does not permit using established terms with complete individual freedom. Time-binding depends on consistently repeated usage.

A very simple example. The "meaning" of the word "kill" has evolved since it was written into the ten commandments. In those days it meant "commit murder". Today the "meaning" of the commandment has changed with the evolution of the use of the word from commit murder to just plain take a life. Similarly "take the name of the lord in vain" meant to bear false witness whereas today it is interpreted as blasphemy. The original meaning of the message has been altered due to lack of precise consistency. Fortunately neither of these contexts is within the realm of science.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - 02:54 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

The current convention of language use does not prclude creativity, innovation, or associating existing structures. Nor does it preclude creating new metaphors. Moreover, not all our cognitive process depend on the use of language; we do have some visualization capabilities. See wisdom, particularly "creativity" therein.

It has been written, I won't bother to look up the reference this time, that group solutions tend to be conventional; it takes an individual working alone to come up with solutions that are significantly more "outside the box".

One needs to be precise about one's use of terms, even to one's self, in analysis and the search for creative solutions so as to even be able to recognize a distinction that can be advantageously used. Imprecise used of terms just allows a fuzzy encompassing of multiple possibilities, and the failure to distinguish possibilities obscures paths that could lead to innovation. Important also, is the ability to examine the structure implied by precise use of terms.

How does one look beyond the existing structures if they only use language in ways that are supported by current convention?

My focus was on using terms precisely in agreement with the time-binding record, but also to analyze these terms in connection with scientific and philosophical knowledge. The analysis, bringing out precise structure, allows finding anomolies, inconsistencies, and fallacies in reasoning, and these all contribute toward eliminating false reasoning pathes.

Using terms in ways that are both consistent with the time-binding record and with precisision - focusing on the technical and scientific definitions - is a variety of the use of language supported by current convention (in the precise technical use of terms). It does not preclude seeing beyond existing structures. On the contrary, if we see existing structures more clearly and more precisely, we will be more likely to be able to see beyond them, especially if we have a multiply connected knowledge base. See creativity again.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - 04:28 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Precision in communications for the end of mutual understanding (not the same as agreement).
Precision in structure for the end of analysis of relations (not precision for the sake of precision).
Precisions in relations for the end of testing models (not the same as "accuracy").
Precision in models (maps) for the end of navigating (not just our physical environments, but our symbolic environments as well).

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - 11:15 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

For me, our maps include maps of procedures for accomplishing end, and I include this under navigating. I use the word navigating as it naturally goes with the term map. I'm guessing that your use of 'function' is referring to procedures of the sort what something does so we can use it to do things. And I would include this under the general terms of navigating maps of our physical and symblolic environments using the metaphor of ends are destinations and procedures are maps. Recall that the terms 'map' and 'territory' under general semantics are extremely general. So I assume we are in agreement, unless you mean something else by function.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, May 17, 2007 - 07:55 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Yes, it's all talk.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, May 17, 2007 - 11:39 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Such a determination is a value judgement, and it would normally be made by the listener taking into consideration the listener's experience. After all, it is the listener who must assimilate the term into his or her own experience, which is likely different from the speaker. It is only through the process of sharing experiences, that we can build a picture that we agree about (or disagree about).

If I have experience that makes distinctions and builds a structure that you have not experienced, your use of a term would seem ambiguous to me, as it does not distinguish among the possibilities I see.
Conversely, if I lack experiences that make distinctions and builds a structure that I have not experienced, I am unable to bring experiences to your use of the term, and it would not make sense to me.

In the former case I try to provide you with the experiences so as to "pin down" the "meaning" to disambiguate among my experiences. In the later case I try to elicit information so as to build structures - give me the experiences - enabling me to see the different possibilities.

The speaker would rarely determine that his or her word choice would be "sloppy, imprecise, etc.," prior to such a, possibily extended, interchange.

If you think the judgement is the right/responibility of the speaker prior to such an interchange, then we do not agree.

The speaker has the choice of picking what level of abstraction to begin with, and he or she may choose to be intentionally ambiguous - as in the Oriental case of "leaving room to save face". But that, it would seem to me, would rarely, if ever, be appropriate for building models of how we know/learn/understand what is going on in our physical world and in our models of our abstraction process.

We talk until we can walk away satisfied or until one gives up, possibly leaving the other frustrated. This only applies to understanding; control is another issue.

We ask questions based on our needs, and that is not always to understand.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, May 17, 2007 - 01:35 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Yes, that paraphrase is part of the cycle of communication. Then the original speaker can, based on what he heard, infer what the original listener understood, assuming the original listener heard what the original speaker said, as he sought to encode what he meant, and compare that inference to his memory of what he originally intended as the desired response.

Speaker's meaning -> (E)ncoded -> speakers words spoken.
(T)ransmitted through (N)oisy medium.
Words (h)eard by listener - > (d)ecoded -> listener's (u)nderstanding, and (a)bstracted.
Listener's (m)eanings -> (e)ncoded -> Listener's words.
(t)ransmitted through (n)oisy medium.
Words (H)eard by speaker (R) -> Decoded -> speakers understanding.

Quite a complex process for just one cycle.
Speaker's understanding =D(H(n(t(e(a(u(d(h(N(T(E(speaker's meaning))))))))))))
And I did not include the effect of memory storage and recall.

And all this is complicated by social issues, needs, ego, purposes, etc.
But hopefully, when our goal is to apply the methods of science in our daily lives, we can get past most of that with repeated cycles of response and reply and a mutual desire to understand.

It ain't easy, folks.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, May 18, 2007 - 12:29 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

General semantics does not specify what kind of social niceties should be adhered to in the application of the methods of science in our daily lives. Korzybski advocated that a "time-binding" ethic be based on the "natural law of human nature"; which he meant as the accumulation of knowledge and property and the sharing of such over generations with the concern for the welfare of all mankind (above any group or culture); he contrasted this with an animalistic "space-binding" ethic of competition for resources with regard for self only. (I just finished reviewing every instance of "ethic" in the collected works CD - which includes S&S & MoH.)

What is "compassion"; what is "common courtesy"; and what is "mutual respect" varies with culture to culture, society to society, family to family, individual to individual.

There is no scientific study that identifies any natural law of human nature as dictating any particular definition of any of theses. Even a cursory review of philosophy shows that all three are values, and that they vary. Typically 'values' have not been the province of science, although Korzybski advocated that the scientific study of man would produce a set of such values. I don't see that any such set of common valuse has even been evident. I have some, and I'd like to believe they might have some universal appeal, but I know of no scientific evidence to that effect.

Moreover, the notion that one can even accomplish such a task - to base an ethic or morality on observations - to say that we "should" behave the way we have been observed to behave - has been characterized as "the naturalistic fallacy" "to go from 'is' to 'ought'".

I had a much more extensive response written, but I lost it in a computer glitch, so you'll just have to make due with this much less verbose post.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, May 18, 2007 - 10:27 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David wrote "basic principles that govern enactment". "Enactment"? "Enactment", if that's what you meant, represents a small subset of human behavior based on a particular set of values (high level abstractions?) not universally held by mankind and not justifiable by any scientific method of observation. I spent twenty years defending the Declariation of Independence and the US Constitution, and I support them and the principles they represent; but I'm also aware that they are in no way "universal human values". We might like to think they are, but that's our own myopic view of value systems. Even Kohlberg's stages of moral development - based on Piaget's work observing kids deveoping - has no universal acceptance. The structure and functioning of the US Government is an implementation consistent with Kohlberg's stage 5. The vast majority of mankind adheres to one or another major religions with the varying dictates differentially interpreted by those in power in the various sects, and many would consider their (incompatible) approachs stage 6, and therefore above goverments.

Anything that can be said as the object of "should" represents a preference by an entity or group. There are only a few built into mobile life. Seek food, seek shelter, conserve energy, seek mates, avoid predators, and beat rivals. These are fundamental to survival of any mobile species. Any system of ethics for human behavior must support these "laws of nature of mobile life", any universal social value system for a society must provide for ways to provide food, shelter, freedom from predation, successful mating, and satisfactory competition for mates. Any value system that does not provide for these will be going against the basic nature of mobile life. Humans, being a special case of mobile life, have some means to do this, but so far, no such universal value system accepted by all has emerged. Competition for mates, and in the context of social interaction, competition for status (power), has no natural limits. Most species' fights end without injury, but a good percentage do, and quite a few end in death or murder, and the males of some species kill others's offspring, notibly Chimps (but not Bonobos) and domestic cats, just to name a couple.

While making breakfast, it just occured to me that when we think of values as somehow abstracted from lower orders of abstraction, we are possibly making a mistake. A value, it seems to me now, is better described as a reason or mechanism for deciding independently of the facts. If you value something you are predisposed to act in a certain way before any facts are in evidence. The incoming abstracted facts are used in conjuction with the value to effect behavior. When an appropriate context arrises, the value dictates the choice.

We can infer values from observing decisions. A decision made in the same way repeatedly reflects a value. I show the relation in my Think-Feel and Know-Act. We infer the value when we abstract a pattern, but our inference is a map of repeated decisions, and that is not the value which drives those descisions. Absracting and inferring a value is a bottom up process, but using a value to make a decision is a top-down process. That's when it hit me. A value is an example that borders on what we call in general semantics an "intensional orientation". Unfortunately, in general semantics "intensional orientation" has a bad rep. The connotations are very negative. We aren't supposed to have such, because we are supposed to be extensional. But it's values that make us human. Thanks to the impetus of this discussion, I can now see that yet another proclamation of general semantics that can be misinterpreted as an absolute principle. It is the interaction of extensional and intensional orientations that enables us to function. We are intensional about our values, and this guides our decisions for behavior when our extensional abstractions inform us of the opportunities to exercise our values. If we go overboard in either direction - have no vaues - or - ignore the abstracted facts - we are disfunctional.

So we can paraphrase the serenity prayer as: Great Korzybski, grant me the strength to hold to my intensional values, the fortitude to accept my extensional abstractions, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, May 18, 2007 - 05:02 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David's "actions that are governed or constrained by principles" first require that principles be abstracted, as no "principles" exist a-priori.

One cannot have "enactment" without "principles".
One cannot have "principles" without prior abstraction.
What are principles? See principles. Principles are statements of "oughts" based on human values, so one cannot have principles without first having values.

"Rights" are special cases of values.

A "right" is a claim on others based on a value and a presumtion that the others have acknowledged the claim as valid.

A "right" is granted by one entity to another.

The people who formed our government created an entity - the government - and granted it the right to administer values and delegated to it the power to grant specified rights to all citizens.

For every right granted one or more individuals held the corresponding value. Freedom is granted because the grantor values freedom and claims that others grant freedom in return. The structure is a quid-pro-quo of values. I value my freedom, and, so you won't restrict my freedom, I grant you the "right" to freedom on the condition that you grant me the right to freedom in return. In order for this to work we must also be self-limiting and pledge not to interfere with the other's freedom. This level opens the question of boundary between active freedom of the grantor and the passive right to freedom of the grantee. For decades I have continually said "My freedoms end where your rights begin." Kant resolved this with the appeal to reciprocity - which we might relate to the general theory of relativity. That the laws of physics must look the same to all observers becomes that the rules of etical behavior must look the same to all participants. And the earliest simplest expression of this is don't do to others what you don't want done to yourself, so you make an agreement to that effect with others implicitly through cultural history or explicitly through negotiation.

"Rights" are a complex social issue based on values in the context of multiple interacting entities. When you talk about rights, you are, in fact, implicitly talking about the values from which the right are generated. Without the underlying values, there would be no question of rights.

It is Korzybski's principle claim that there are natural laws of human nature, and that understanding the time-binding character of these natural laws will, throught the application of science, generate the appropriate "time-binding" ethic, and therefore, sufficient for sanity. I see that you disagree with this percept of general semantics. I'm inclined to agree with your disagreement as well, but I suspect our reasoning differs significantly.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, May 18, 2007 - 11:28 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

define:rights. I see where we part company. You hold that "inherent" is a valid notion; "inherent" is an Aristotelian essences notion. For me anything that smacks of "essence" is an abstraction that we form, the map and not the territory. If there is anything that is "inherent" in anything else, we cannot know it because that is strictly a metaphysical idea, and general semantics is modern open applied epistemology.

We have to abstract descriptions.
Then we abstract relations.
Among the descriptions we abstract are examples of repeated decisions.
From this we infer values.
We abstract relations among persons.
We abstract that some relations include coercion ad dominance.
We abstract an ability (through mirror cells) to project ourselves in others situations.
We have, over the centuries, abstracted the notion of the "golden rule" to protect ourselves and our values as projected into the situation of others.
We have, over the centuries, abstracted the notion of cooperating with others.

We abstract an agreement, as the limeric says, as to who is allowed to ho what and where to whom (and when), as well as who is not allowed to do what to whom (in order to secure our values). We call the subject of that agreement, as to what is not allowed to be done a "right" of the recipient.

For me, within the context of epistemology - how we know - all "rights" are the subject implicitly or explicitly of agreements, and the agreements are made in the interest of protecting actions and property valued by the participants.

Now, I personally subscribe to the notion of Kant that, based on my understanding of the above, I shall agree with myself to limit my "freedom" [freedom to] in order to preserve my values [freedom from] ("rights") projected onto myself as the generic other my mirror cells enable me to empathize with.

This is an expression of Kant's categorical imperative. Act as if my behavior would be a universal law.

If you believe in inherent rights or absolute rights not so made by humans, well, then, that is the basis for a lot of disagreement in many areas.

From premises conclusions follow, and with different premises, different conclusions follow.
It's only logical, and the diagrams on many General semantics bulletins.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, May 19, 2007 - 10:40 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Well, we could extract two sub-topics - one on rights and values, and one on ethics, but I think that the perspectives exhibited that some have taken what some might think as a digression are relevant to consciousness of abstracting.

I see the percept that rights, essences, or anything else, are "inherent" as a "lack of experience" in consciousness of abstraction due to a lack of appreciation for all the steps involve in the abstraction process, especially since "essences" are deemed by general semantics as a strictly Aristotelian viewpoint.

Moreover, the abstraction of evidence of values that infers (more abstraction) the operation of a value also shows a similar lack of experience with awareness of the plethora of steps in the abstraction process that leads to such high level abstractions.

In both cases, however, I am not excluding the possiblity that the expereince is there, but the rejection is possibly due to a commitment to essences.

I have built a structure starting with observations that rises through level of abstraction to a notion of "rights" that is not only based in human behavior, it does not suffer from the eschewed notion of essences.

The "rejection" I'm getting sounds to me a bit like:
Me: "There aren't any essences." followed by Others: "There are too, So there!".

I've tried to show my experiential path, but I'm still hearing a "denial" or "rejection" that does not seem to address the abstraction process I've delineated.

A belief in intrinsic properties, values, rights, etc., are all projection or attributions of our obstractions onto what is going on. The language of intrinsic anything is from realism that presumes that these structures and characteristics exist independently of any observation. That point of view is not consistent with general semantics. We have to have an abstraction path of evidence for anything we know.

As long as anyone holds to the belief that "things" have intrinsic characteristics, including such characteristics as "entitlements" "simpliciter" he or she is holding onto the notion of Aristotelian essences.

Our Declaration of Independence is not without such phraseology, but I can "translate" that into structures which rest in multiple levels of abstraction based on the human context as we currently model it.

I do appreciate the fact that this interchange has given me the stimulus to more precisely differntiate the abstraction of apparent value (repeated evidence of deciding in a particular way) from the inference to an established predisposition to decide in that way (the value), and that these represent an interaction between intensional (plans, goals, values) and extensional (abstract, react, respond).

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, May 19, 2007 - 10:56 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Davide wrote: Functionally, isn't that the same as saying, "I will respect the inherent rights of other human beings"?

Not at all, because your formulation presumes "inherent" whereas mine does not. You are abstracting my words using Piaget's assimilation into your cognitive structures, and comparing your abstraction to your cognitive structure.

Functionally, the behavior and the language will be different at lower levels of abstraction.

To say that something is "inherent" is to say that it "just is" and that it cannot be further analyzed.

You claim rights are inherent:

Look at definitions of rights on the web.

Pick this one, for example:

Powers or privileges granted by an agreement or law.

Laws are legislated agreements among people, consequently both disjuncts go back to agreements, and agreements must be further analyzed as to why they are made. I alluded to the quid-pro-quo of value exchange as a basic reason for agreements, so (legal) "rights" trace back to values, and a value is indicated by a person deciding in a certain way. Further, I trace those to the basic "needs" for survival of the species.

Analysis of all the definitions show a trace back to authority based in agreement in general or in specific contexts.

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

Just as an added thought, in order to navigate the physical, symbolic, and social environments, we use our cognitive model, assimilating (Piaget) abstractions, until such time as "significant" failures in predicting necessitate accomodating (again Piaget) abstractions to form a revised cognitive model. The "goodness of fit" of our cognitive model can be measure by how infrequently we need to revise it. Consciousness of abstraction allows us to monitor the process more effectively.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, May 19, 2007 - 12:15 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Drop down a level of abstraction and specify which right you have in mind.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, May 19, 2007 - 03:32 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

The lower level of abstraction consists of a number of specific rights. "Rights" in general must be abstracted from many particulars.

I cited the web search which listed many of them. In each case they indicate an authority either assumed and deferred to or agreed to.

A hermit living alone with no possibility of interaction with other humans has no "rights", "responsibilities", or "priveledges". He interacts with his environment as he sees fit without any inteference. The concept of "rights" has no application in such a situation.

That you do not know of or cannot name an entity or a process by which rights are granted does not mean that others can not name or describe such a process. There is a logical fallacy operating in such a claim. "I lack knowledge of X therefore X cannot exist." This is confusing epistemology with metaphysics, and it is not valid reasoning.

See my Sentient Sovereignty. "Rights" are granted by the perspective expresesd beginning with Reciprocity. When I commit not to act in certain ways towards others, that creates the corresponding "right" of the others - they may claim that I keep my word and behave accordingly. When we band together in groups, and we establish customs of such behavior, then the "right" inheres in the expectation that no one will behave in the prohibited way. In such groups further agreements appoint individuals to see to it that individuls who would not voluntarily agree to the restriction are forced to conform. (Manjority rule).

Today, I have a "right" to freedom of expression, because it is written into the First Ammendment to the Constitution, which by the way, was created by agreement among delegates, and the ammendment was created by the process specified in the original agreement. This "right" only "exists" as part of the background culture because it is part of time-binding and goes back to agreements between people, as to how to protect what they valued at the time, and what we value now.

By the way, notice all the legal activity that continually goes on in an effort to both restrict as well as maintain these "rights". The rights do not have any absolute inherent existence. They must be created my agreement and then they must be maintained by a constant struggle - competition for power, the ability to obtain and hoard that which is valued.

Every chain of abstraction goes back to basic desire.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, May 19, 2007 - 11:18 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

In the bill of rights, the words 'ability" or "ability to have" may be substituted for the word 'right' and not substantially change the meaning or the implementation. We call a "right" the ability not to have something done to us or the ability to do something. This is not "ability" in the sense of "can"; it is ability in the sense of "may", because the context, in all cases, governs the actions of other people who might interfere to do what is prohibited or to prevent what is allowed. In both cases, it reflects an interaction between people. It still boils down to an agreement.

FIRST AMENDMENT: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

My "right" to freedom of expression is that others shall not intefere with my choosing to speak out, in this case the governemnt, created by agreement of those who wrote the ammendment and the people who ratified it in accordance with the earlier "agreement" that produced the constitution which was also ratified by the states.

No matter how you skin this cat, it allways comes down to agreement among peoples, agreement as to who has the permission of the group to do what and where to whom, when, and who has the prohibition of the group to do what and where to whom, when.

Agreement is the basis of all "rights". Agreement itself is also not an end; it is an arrangement in a context involving individuals with desires.

Agreements about acceptable and unacceptable behavior simply refelect the values held by the agreeors as to what they are willing or not to permit in the form of retaining for themselves and prohibiting in others. In both cases they reflect values - acts desired to be permitted to self - that is acts they value being able to do - and acts desired to be prohibited to others - that is acts they value not having done by others.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, May 19, 2007 - 11:22 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Prohibition took away the "right" (legal permissive ability) to consume alcohol. Repeal gave it back.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, May 20, 2007 - 02:31 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Verbal levels are used as maps that relate to our physical and symbolic environments. The formulation of a "right" is a specification, under a history of agreements, as to what may not be done to the individual. The word 'may' indicates that others do not have "permission" to do what is prohibited by prior agreement. So the verbal level expression is a map, not of what has been done, but of the paths that are "forbidden" (under the prior agreement). When a right is specified as an allowed action, the implication is that others do not have permission (under prior agreements) to prevent or interfere what the permitted act. So we are dealing with the semantic relation between verbal levels and what is going on. Consciousness of abstraction, it seems to me, involves trying to remember all these relations when we read, speak, and act.

When the bus driver says, you have to sit in the back of the bus, because you are not the right kind of people (pun intended) you are being identified as a person who does not have the right to sit where you wanted to. After much struggle, the majority have agreed to extend that "right" to you who formerly were not the right kind of person.

In regard to Thomas Jeferson, note the following quote: "Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.

The first sentence shows that Jefferson understood "liberty" or "freedom" as our desire (value) to do whatever we want.
The second sentence, in which he adds the qualifier "rightful", shows that he followed Kant's categorical imperative - based in the relation between persons and an arrangement whereby each person agrees to limit his "liberty" so as not to interfere with the "liberty" of others. As I have expressed it for decades, my "freedoms" end where your "right" begin. Thomas Jefferson's expression would be "My liberty ends where yours ends. Jefferson shows this view in another quote, "Being myself a warm zealot for the attainment and enjoyment by all mankind of as much liberty as each may exercise without injury to the equal liberty of his fellow citizens, ...".

But his first quote, in which defines liberty as the exercise of free will, it shows that this is based in desire - the will to do what one wants. We only have to ask ourselves why one wants to do anything, and the answer to that is, in general, the pursuit of what one values, "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness".

"Rights" - the expectation that an agreement made for the purpose of allowing us to pursue what we value - will be honored by others.

A high level abstraction based in values - will and desire - implemented in the context of interactions among people - agreements - and the time-bound carried down results of such agreements, together with a continuous struggle among people that pushes the boundary back and forth from society to society. There is nothing "intrinsic" to man in this notion, although without consciousness of abstraction or time-binding, it may appear so when the formulations and definitions are considered elementalistically out of their environmental context.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, May 20, 2007 - 07:26 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Ralph is saying on VERBAL LEVELS rights can be granted now presented twice misrepresents my position. Please review my post I am referring to the semantics between our language and our behavior that the language represents.

Rights are granted explicitly by verbal agreement as well as implicitly by tacit behavior that comes to be a reasonable expectation. The boy and girl who develop a pattern of kissing upon greeting creates the expectation that one has the right to kiss the other without having to ask permission. Similarly, as one grows up in a culture - the result of a history of time-binding - gets messages about formal (Edward T. Hall) aspects of the culture that include never spoken about expectations as to allowed and prohibited behavior. Here's a personal example: When my second wife announced to her Captain's elderly secretary that she was getting married, the secretary asked what her new name was going to be. When Joan repied, Rosenberg (her name), the secretary did not understand, and asked a second question, What's you husband's name, whereupon Joan said she was keeping he maiden name. The secretary was horribly upset, and insisted that Joan could not do that. The unwritten rules that the elderly secretary had grown up with were that it was mandatory for the wife to take the husband's name. It was taken for granted that not taking the husbands name was not a right.

I am not saying, elementalistically on verbal levels only, that rights can be granted. Rights are granted by explicit (verbal) and by implicit or tacic (unspoken - non-verbal) agreements. The big ones, the ones we continually fight over, are generally verbalized, but our society is full of patterns that escape consciousness of abstraction, and many of those patterns include tacit unspoken "agreements", some actually conscious, such as in the example of oriental "save face" methods, and some completely outside our normal consciousness, such as "formal message systems as described by Edward T. Hall in The Silent Language and it's two sequels.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, May 20, 2007 - 07:32 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David wrote “the methods of science are necessary for sanity, but they are not sufficient”. I tend to agree, however, it should be recognized that, to the best of my understanding, that is not Korzybski's position. Korzybski intended general semantics as the means of applying scientific methods in our daily lives for just exactly the purpose of achieving sanity (as opposed to "un-sanity"). While he addressed various mental illness organizations to advocate his system, I do not believe it has been shown effective in "curing" the "insane".

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, May 20, 2007 - 08:50 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David, Both "rights" and "privileges" are "granted", but privileges are granted to the few while rights are granted to the many. You appear "blind" to the chain of abstractions mapping events that relate step-by-step all the way from desire and will throught to self limiting liberty as stated by Thomas Jefferson.

Since you appear unable to follow the abstraction chain backwards from the top down, here it is forward from the bottom up. When you get to the end do not forget the starting point.

We want things and we want to do things.
Other people want things and want to do things.
They get in our way.
But we want these things/acts very much - they are valuable to us.
How can we get around these other people?
We can beat them up. Good for us.
Oops, they can beat us up too. Not good for us.
How can we get around this situation?
We make a list of everything we want including the negatives, such as not to die, etc.
We prioritize the list, noticing that some items are the complement of other items, so each par has a higher priority item and a lower priority item.
Now we trade with other people. (As an aside, we notice that the lists look different in different cultures.)
In the beginning bigger and stronger gets more of their desires (values).
But we notice that sooner or later somebody else bigger and stronger comes along and "takes away" some of our desires - values.
So we look for a better agreement, one possibility is asking each other to negotiate for the opposite. This proves a possibility because we are the proud owners of "mirror cells" in our nervous system which allows us to see ourselves in the position of the other. (Empathy)
Through this ability we recognize that both of a pair of complements cannot be simultaneously held by the same person except at the expense of another.
We begin to use this capability in our negotiation and come up with lists that look the same for every one. The list has two types of items on it; they are can do and don't do.

Oh look, we don't have to go through the negotiation, we can do it with ourselves. Each of us can. We can use our mirror cells.

We want to simplify the can-do and don't-do into a single want list for each person, so the don't do's get transformed into complementary do's for the other person, and then the do's for the self and the new do's for the other become a single system, but now we need to identify the transformed don't do's. We call the do's freedoms and the complements of the don't do's rights. That way a person has a list of freedoms and rights that are the same for everyone, but they no longer get expressed in terms of the relation between two (or more) people.

As time goes on these get coded into written bodies of agreement call "laws" as well as into implicit customs that are "just done" without much if any discussion.

One formal one:
I have a "right to free expreession" instead of a responsibility not to impose on the free expresssion of others.

This positive, egoistic way of presenting it allows people to push the envelope without awareness of the relational nature.

Compare, for example two forms of the golden rule.
1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
2. Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you.

#1 begats "an eye for and eye".
#2 begats "turn the other cheek".

All these "rights" are supported by the structure of self-limiting one's own behavior not to abridge another's "rights". We are the ones who grant ourselves the right in the act of granting it to others by the process of limiting our own behavior through an implicit agreement with ourselves to maximize our ability to pursue our desires - values.

Desires become values.
Values come into conflict.
Agreement resolves the conflict by prioritizing values and by turning some into negatives.
The compelement of a negative with respect to the relation between persons becomes a higher priority positive.
These are differentiated and called freedoms and rights.
In the act of being turned into a negative, the person gives up the positive and grants its complement to the other person.

I give up my will to be able to do in those who get in my way so that I, in your place, will not be done in. Hence I grant you what I in your place now call a right.

When we create governments, we will get together and write some of these down, and we will appoint persons in the government to catch and punish anyone who does not agree with us (the majority), And, as an after thought, we will restrict the goverment in the same way we restrict ourselves.


Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, May 20, 2007 - 08:57 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David wrote 4. Do not use the tricks of sophistry. At best, they indicate inscincerity, at worst they indicate a desire to deceive.

If you conform to general semantics, and apply the methods of science, you would not "use the tricks of sophistry", because they are part of the unsane reasoning methods. Many, however, have no knowledge of the difference. A third possibility, and possibly a best one, is that the speaker is fully sincere, but hasn't a clue that what he thinks, from (time binding) experience, is perfectly reasonable ways of "arguing" does not fit "approved" methods of science.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, May 20, 2007 - 09:01 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Consciousness of abstracting, it seems, should include a knowledge of the difference between valid and invalid methods of reasoning as well as a developed awareness of when one is making inferences.

And lest someone mistake this for a definition, note that I said "should include", and that does not preclude other criteria.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, May 20, 2007 - 09:51 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David writes Our rights would come into play in the decision to grant or revoke the privilege. In other words, it is her "right" to grant or revoke my "privilege" to kiss her without permission, and it is my "right" to grant or revoke her "privilege" to kiss me without permission.

The important point here is that no other entity has given us this right to grant/revoke the privilege to kiss without permission. We have that right no matter what anyone else may say. More importantly, that right needs to be respected by those who practice the methods of science. If they do not respect that right, they will not be acting sanely.

You are simply re-asserting your view that rights are intrinsic as opposed to granted. You provide no discussion of why you think the chain of abstraction I presented does not apply. You have simply restated your position, claiming that there is no granting involved. This is not a discussion or an argument. It is an expressions of "I tell you twice"; that is an example of attempted exercise of authority or power.

When this sort of thing happens, it in indicative that you hold this view as an absolute.

You appear to have just ignored my quotation from Thomas Jefferson, which you brought up in the first place. My quotation went against your "end", so you dropped it and re-asserted your position. Your mind is made up, and no argument, rational or otherwise is likely to allow you to see the chain of abstraction that I present which includes the perspective I quoted from Thomas jefferson on the indication that freedom is a value based on desire, and that we must self-limit our freedoms so as not to interfere with the self-same freedoms we would claim as the other.

We, in the act of limiting our own freedom, are the granting entity that grants to others (and ourselves in the position of the others) whatever actions that are complementary to the limits we place on ourselves.

We limit our freedom by not killing others, and therby grant to others that they not be killed; this you call the right to life.
We limit our freedom by not imprisoning others and thereby grant to others that they not be imprisoned. This you call the right to liberty.
We limit our behavior by not stopping others from pursuing happiness, and in doing so grant the others that they may pursue happiness; this you call the "right to the pursuit of happiness".

In all cases we are the granting entity in our dual relationship with ourselves. The "right" is neither inherent nor absolute; it only comes into existence though our own act of self limiting; this is the act and the entity that grants the right.

Your claim that "rights" are not granted cannot be correct when it is clear that we grant these capabilities you call "rights" throught the act of limiting our behavior.

Since self-limiting amounts to an agreement with self, the chain is complete. Entity grants right under agreement for the purpose of obtaining desired value.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, May 20, 2007 - 10:19 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David wrote As I see it, the key distinction between rights and privileges is that rights are possessed not granted.

The grantor grants to the grantee, and thereafter the grantee claims to "own" or "posess" the right.

At its most fundamental, a right is a claim, on other persons, that is acknowledged and perhaps reciprocated among the principals associated with that claim. wiki

The acknowledgment comes in the form of our (grantor) restricting our behavior so as not to restrict .... The reciprocity comes in the fact that we both agree that we shall behave in this way.


Wiki: There are two main modern conceptions of rights: on the one hand, the idea of natural rights holds that there is a certain list of rights enshrined in nature that cannot be legitimately modified by any human power. On the other hand, the idea of legal rights holds that rights are human constructs, created by society, enforced by governments and subject to change.

You clearly hold to the "natural right" view. This is not a general semantics consistent view, but you have a "right" to your view in your view, and I grant you that right in my view.

I suggest we table this discussion of whether "rights" are intrinsic or abstractions, because you are not likely to change your view, even when many general semantics arguments are presented.

In summary, it adds to consciousness of abstracting to realize that individuals can hold intensional orientations with respect to various concepts. It's especially helpful when we can recognize such in ourselves. Once intensionality is achieved in a view, it is unlikely to change.

In my case, general semantics denies "equality" in the name of non-identity. I however, hold to the notion of equal rights in our society, but I recognize that it is intensional and contrary to general semantics notion that we should always differentiate, so as not to "identify".

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, May 20, 2007 - 10:54 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

I have said many times that we grant the rights ourselves, and I've shown you the structure and relations as to how that happens. You believe neither.

You said, If you can answer these questions in a way that does not require unsane behavior,, an example of the threat of an ad hominem argument - one of the prohibited un-sane argument methods.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, May 20, 2007 - 10:58 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David, Please start a new thread under your name with this:

Ralph also said: In my case, general semantics denies "equality" in the name of non-identity.

I have trouble accepting the proposition that GS denies "equality". That seems unsane to me. Do others also think that GS denies "equality"?

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, May 21, 2007 - 08:57 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

I quoted from your link to Thomas Jefferson quotes here.

I read and re-read posts, delay my reactions, and re-read them again. I recommend the process.

Thomas wrote, Ralph wrote: I have said many times that we grant the rights ourselves

Hmmm... that sounds a little different than your original proposition that “A right is granted by one entity to another”.

You appear to have missed the portion of the chain of abstractions in which we use our mirror cells to substitute for the other ourselves projected into the position of the other.

Reciprocity has been a central point in my argument from the beginning.

Most "rights" now-a-days are granted by an authority different from the self, but the abstract notion of rights in any "absolute" sense traces to our limiting our own behavior as it would affect us when we place ourselves in the position of the other - the basic notion of reciprocity (as cited by Thomas Jefferson, and as delineated in Kant's categorical imperative as well as a long tradition of the philosophy of ethics).

I'm inclined to think that it is primarily the religious that believe that "rights" are inherently "God given".

Moreover, the notion that anything is "inherent" in people or things is part of the Aristotelian structure of "essences". It is not consistent with non-Aristotelian reasoning.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, May 21, 2007 - 09:52 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

One of the characteristics of verbal level abstractions "is" that the fewer the words and or the higher the level of abstraction, the more ambiguous the formulation is.

A single word can mean many, many, things.
Used in a sentence, it's possible meaning becomes restricted, as does the meaning of the other words in the sentence, so that the meaning of the combined word is much less ambiguous than words by themselves, but a single sentence generaly still has many possible interpretations. When a paragraph of several sentences is use, then the possible meaning become more limited.

Hence I choose verbosity over brevity and the corresponding ambiguity that goes with it.

However, if the listener lacks experiences comparable to those of the speaker, then the words cannot evoke specific experiences.

Hence I choose to be pedantic, including summaries and descriptions of examples of experiences in the hopes of a better chance of evoking corresponding experiences in the listener.

Don Kerr, teaching at past general semantics seminars, frequently noted that the words of the speaker evoke the experiential elements of the listener.

When I say "argument" I mean specifically a chain of valid reasoning steps, each step of which is supported by a rule of inference. In discussions this becomes a sequence of formulations illustrating relations, often with examples, to support the conditional steps.

I do not mean rhetoric, the art of making the weaker side appear stronger; I do not mean a knock-down draged-out "fight". I do not mean competition for dominance.

For me, "argument", or "scientific" argument, means laying out the steps from premises to conclusions showing the abstractions and the connections between each step. The argument fails if any link in the chain is broken, and it is a cooperative effort to analyze any proposed argument for weak links.

As I note elsewhere, people seldom follow such a process in life. One can lay out a perfectly valid chain of reasoning in which a person agrees with the premises and each step, but then proceeds to deny the conclusion. This merely means that the person is inconsistent, which, of course, humans can be, and preversely so at times.

To simply deny the conclusion without finding a link to weaken with a counter argument is not resolving the valididy of the argument. It is an example of "un-sane" reasoning - allowing inconsistency.

It might be instructive to ask how we humans can be so "illogical". The answer appears to be in our neural net structure of represtation. A strongly reinforced network will override a sequence of weakly connected ones. It does become, at neurological levels, "sheer dominance" of sub-nets.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, May 21, 2007 - 10:06 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

No. My position is not changing; your understanding of it may be growing.

Granting rights to ourselves is a special case of one entity granting to another. There is no presumption that "another" entity is mutually exclusive from first one. "Another" entity is not necessarily a "different" entity.

A right is granted by an entity to an entity.
Most are granted by one entity to a different entity. But the rights we hold as absolute are those that we create by self-limiting our own behavior, so as to grant that right to others specifically for the purpose of retaining that right for ourselves under reciprocity through empathy of placing ourselves in the position of the others.

We grant it to others with the expectation that they correspondingly grant it to us, and in both cases our values, and our will to pursue those values, are preserved - as Jefferson says, "maximized liberties".

It is only through the expectation of reciprocity that the granting of the right to others is also the granting of that right to ourselves.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, May 21, 2007 - 03:19 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Privileges and rights are both granted. Privileges are granted to the few; right to the many, but both are ganted through a transaction relation between entities, which just may happen to be the same entity. "Defense" and "not intefere with" are not even close to being synonymous. "Defense" is a positive active role while "not interfere with" is a negative passive role. One "defends one's ability to do things by taking action against those who are tying to prevent one from doing the things one wants, such as, for example, blocking their attempts to prevent your action.

To take a negative passive role, that is, to restrict my own behavior towards another so as to allow them to perform an active behavior, that, had I not restricted my own behavior, I would have interfered with and prevented, is the act which allows, permits, grants, them the ability to do their active act. Anyone who does not interfere with your actions is permitting, allowing, granting you, etc., your ability to perform the otherwise restrictable behavior.

You appear to simply not see or understand the reciprocity involved.

You claim you have a right to act, but you do not see that your ability to act is only because others agree not to interfere with your act.

You would claim that others are supposed to let you do whatever it is that you wish to call a "right". You exercise a claim on them to prohibited them from interfering with your ability to act.

Another thought. Take a stance involving a general semantics multi level abtraction view. You are, sort of, using metaphors, in three places at once. At the lower level you(1) are facing yourself(2) in an advesarial position. You(3) are also at the higher level observing both your other perspectives.
You(1) say I wont stop you(2) from doing what you(2) want. You(3) see that you(1) under self-restraint "grants" you(2) the "right" to do, and that your(1) freedom ends where your(2) rights begin. Moreove you(3) see that you(1) and you(2) are interchangable. In this way you hold reciprocity and the balance of freedoms and rights in the context of a transaction between entities. The less special case is when (1), (2), and (3) are all distinct entites. Those actions, positive active and the negation of being the recipient of other positive active actions, which are argued by most that should be permitted by all to all we call "rights". Those which are under the discression of (1) and not argued by most to be permitted by all to all we call "permissions".

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, May 21, 2007 - 03:34 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Objective level experiences cannot be communicated verbally, and they do not have associated verbal level "meanings". One chooses words to encoded ones objective level experiences, and those words, when heard, evoke the listener's memory of the listener's (not the speaker's) objective level experiences.

We use the term "right" to classify something we can do or something we do not want done to us. Rights, therefore, are abilities to do without interference, or ability not to be subject to certain actions.

Now, if you have a "feeling" that something should be classified as a right, that is explained in lower level abstraction terms without using the word "right" as a permitted act or the condition of not being the recipient of a prohibited act. That feeling is a strong feeling that you should not be interefered with in either case. We might call that a sense of fairness. But that is just another verbal level label for the unspeakable sensation. You choose words to encode it. I would not call a "right" a feeling.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, May 21, 2007 - 08:27 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David. For me, the word 'misrepresent' conveys an intent to be deceitful. Moreover the word "blatently" is emotion laden with negative association.

I view these as examples of the eschewed behaviors Korzybski subsumes under the term "unsane".

If you cannot respond to paraphrases of your words/position in a logical and analytical way, providing whatever corrections you think might contribute to correcting an apparent misunderstanding; if you choose instead to label such paraphrases as "blatent misrepresentation" with the implication that there was intentional nefariousness involved, then you are beginning to use rhetoric and ad hominem arguments in the form of personal attack, and that I simply won't respond to, as it steps outside the process of understanding.

In other words, "Them's fighting words, buster.", and if you won't play nice, I wont talk to you.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, May 21, 2007 - 09:16 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Thomas wrote Ralph said "Objective level experiences cannot be communicated verbally, and they do not have associated verbal level "meanings"."

Are you sure about this? Just exactly what do you think it is we are doing when we speak if is not communicating our experiences verbally?? I cannot believe you said this.

and I don't understand. If one wants to remain on objective levels one silently observes but if one wants to move to verbal levels then one abstracts FROM objective levels to verbal levels. I call this speaking about our experiences etc.

Thomas, I stated that Objective level experiences cannot be communicated verbally. The metaphor communication is transfer of meaning is how we commonly understand communication. When John speaks to Jane and Jane understands we usually say that Jane "got" John's meaning. The common understanding of this is that what Jane understood just "is" what John meant. In short we "identify" the meaning with the words without making allowances for either the fact that the word is not the meaning or the fact that John's meaning is not Jane's meaning. All the levels of abstraction illustrated by talk get crammed together in one massive multi-level identification.

Your paraphrase which turned "communicate verbally" into "communicate our experiences verbally" as well as subsequently to "speaking about our experiences" seems to conflate three different level of abstracting.

We do speak "about" our experiences, but the words are not the experiences, and you cannot transfer something that is happening inside your brain to another person's brain, so our "experiences" do not get "communicated" - that is "transferred to" the other person. What does get communicated is the words themselves - formulations; they get transferred, and we can test this because both people are capable (most of the time) of agreeing as to exactly what words were spoken and heard (assuming a low noise level).

We choose words we have learned to associate with our experiences hoping that the listener has learned to associate those words with something comparable to our experiences. So that the listener can evoke, from his or her memory, something akin to our experiences. If two people attend the same class, and they learn about something from the same teacher at the same time, and then they go out and actually perform the actions described by the teacher, and they experience sensations that the teacher gave them names for, and each saw that the other performed the same actions, then when one uses the learned word, he or she has some confidence that the other person experienced something similar. But if the experience involved seeing color phenomenon, and one is color-blind, unbeknownst to the other, then we have a situation more like most of us with respect to most words. We "assume" the others interpret our words in the same way that we do (and take our chances).

The color vision experience cannot be communicated to the color-blind person, and the color-blind experience cannot be communicated to the color vision person (in spite of various black and white simulations), although both can talk (communicate verbally) about their experiences. If we want to buy a particular shade of paint, we (most of us) don't go to the paint store with words; we go with a sample of the paint. In this instance we "know" that we cannot communicate the color we desire using words. Our "object level experiences" cannot be communicated verbally, and most of us through painting, have an appropriate experiential element that brings this awareness vividly to our attention. Now, if we can successfully apply that perspective to all the words we use, we will have a well developed consciousness of abstracting with a highly non-identified perspective.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, May 22, 2007 - 06:53 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David's post: "Ralph does not have the right to misrepresent my postion. Ralph blatently attempts to put words in my mouth".
Ralph's reply. Formulating the listener's understanding is neither "misrepresentation" nor "blatent".

Nora, I thought you said you were closing this topic.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, May 22, 2007 - 07:58 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

No, they are a paraphrase of your position expressing my understanding.

You call X a right.
It is reasonable to infer from that that you would say, claim, advocate, etc., that everyone should not interfere with you with respect to X.
It could be expressed as, "IF you call X a 'right' THEN you would ask, demand, claim, say, etc., that others NOT interfere with you with regard to X".

IF my IF ... THEN ... or "You would" construction is NOT a reasonable THEORY about your prospective behavior, THEN modus tolens would say that you would be SILENT in the case of anyone interfering with X with respect to you.

Are you saying that you would remain silent when someone interfererd with something you called your RIGHT?