IGS Discussion Forums: Learning GS Topics: Everyday language as models
Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, August 7, 2008 - 09:54 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Subscripts "shy", "happy", "lusty", etc., are "category" names, and represent higher level abstractions that cover many individuals.

Subscripts "1", "2", "3", index a set of items by individually identifying a unique member of the set, and they represent lower levels of abstraction.

But Iacting happily, July 19, 1998 at 19:00 EDT contains both a time index and a classification description. It identifies me at a specific date-time (my last wedding), but it also contains a behavioral judgement that is not a description. "Smiling", "laughing", saying "I'm really happy", would be descriptions, but "acting happily" or subscripting with the term "happy" are NOT indices. They represent higher level abstractions than mere description.

An "index" (including a temporal index ["dating"]) allows one to pick out a specific individual or incident. Classifications do not allow that without additional information. There were may "happy" guys on my wedding date, so "malehappy" does not pick out one person and is therefore not an index, but MaleNo. 6 (on the invitation list) does.

For a subscript or superscript to be an "index" it must allow you to pick out a unique member of the set. Classification terms do not provide for the unique selection of individuals without additional information.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, August 8, 2008 - 03:06 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Ben, the key, as Nora notes, is the ability to distinguish. Indexing does that, but adjectives frequently do not. In the case of the two theater maps (comedy and tradegy) then "the" happy mask" would suffice as an index because it uniquely identifies one of the two.

By reversing the indexes, you changed the names of the index. This creats ambiguity and obscures distinguishing.

I don't know what "finishing man" means... The tiger came to the end of his meal?

Manfinishing second identifies a person marked by a temporal event - namely second place, and is using temporal indexing by order.

Man1 shot man2 orders by the men indicated, in your case not the same indexing scheme as the previous temporal order.

You must be consistent with common usage, and above all, you must not change the meaning of an index term in the middle of a paragraph (logical argument) as that is the equivocation fallacy. (Unless, you are making a recognizable pun/joke.)

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, August 11, 2008 - 08:40 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

The technical term is metamodeling. Metamodeling began explicity with the "metamathematics" of Frege, and before that with metaphilosophy. Tarski created a model in a metalanguage that was a first attempt to meta-model the notion of "truth" a la the correspondence theory.

General semantics presents a model of human individual and social "understanding" of "what is going on" as the process of continually building, using, testing, and updating personal and cultural, respectively, "knowledge", where "knowledge" becomes defined by the process as partial model information that has not yet been proven wrong and has had some use and testing. What I have just written as a description is the metamodel structure - and abstraction from a model. Metaphilosophy has a long history - whenever one talks about the philosophy of philosophy - an abstraction from and about the interactive process of "what is going on" and the theory about it.

General semantics is, to be precise, "meta-semantics", semantics being about the relations between language and what is going on whereas general semantics talks about what is going on, language, and how people behave using language. Because general semantics talks also about general semantics, it is recursive and self-reflexive, and much caution is require to prevent confusing levels of abstraction.

General semantics, then, "is" first meta-semantics, second, self-reflexive meta-general semantics or meta-meta-semantics, which can continue for many levels, thirdly - more, because it attempts to re-incorporate the human use of language back to behavior and modeling what is going on. When it does this, it drops back to modeling semantics (dictionary level) and modeling human interaction with language (idiosyncratic level).

If, for example, I start talking about HOW "thought" process can inteact to affect language interpretation for the production of new behavior, I have added modeling some abstraction process - that is modeling general semantics with a theory of abstraction, and that become meta-general-semantics. Evolutionary Epistemology is one such "theory" or "model" designed to partially account for how we can put two and two together and get five, and find out that it does not work (becomes extinct), or that it works very well (becomes a new concept label).

Evolutionary epistemology postulates that our brains record information in complex circuits, but that portions of these circuits can become active separately and combine with each other. The model is recombinate DNA - split up dna into genes, mix them up and create new things, most of which die off, but some of which are adaptive, and "survive" through use. A small theory to account for a small process, partially vindicated by recent brain research.

General semantics as a theory has woefully inadequate content (too abstract) - it was left for succeding generations to incorporate the science of the day.

General semantics does not, it seems to me, model the process of modeling in general, although it does model two specific modeling processes - human abstracting and knowing and the process by which scientific knowledge accumulates, - presenting the structural differential as that common abstraction model of the two processes.

Not everyone favors the later as I present it, but the former is undeniably basic general semantics. How do we know what we know? "We know it using our nervous systems and our language time-binding from generation to generation. Study those process and learn how to use and apply them."

Metaphilosophy is philosophy appled to the question "what is philosophy?".

Semantics "is" (simple abstraction) relations between words and referents. "General semantics" "is" (simple abstraction) relations between people and semantics - some of the words being a sub-model as to how people work (and by the nature of "semantics" open to interpretation).

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, August 12, 2008 - 09:55 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Thank you, Milton, for your highly idiosycratic interpretation of general semantics as you think it "is" and you think it "should be" practiced and your willingness to jump in and criticize others expressions of any facet of general semantics.

You seem to have reacted to my quoted 'is' as if it were not quoted. What kind of prejudiced signal reaction did it evoke in you?

Feel free to participate in the semantic bargain and add ("among other things") whenever I put the word 'is' in "scare quotes". Those scare quotes tell you and other readers to hold off on your instant (signal) reaction to it until you have incorporated the rest of the sentence IN ITS IMMEDIATE CONTEXT.

A word by itself has little "meaning" because it has too many unconstrained "meanings".
The word in a sentence "is" somewhat more meaningful, simply because it is more constrained. The word in that sentence in its context in a paragraph has even more "meaning", because the context further limits its possible interpretations. Do you not remember this specific example, discussion, and lesson at the long-ago Institute-of-General-Semantics Seminar-Laboratory Workshops?

Are you against time-binding? You seem to have objected to my presentation of the historical foundations leading to "modeling modeling" as well as my relating that to the modern scientific (and mathematical) perspective and terminology. We general semanticists are not and should not be an "isolated" microcosm referring back principally to Korzybski. We "should" be citing relevant source material going back through the millennia, giving credit to the origination of ideas. Korzybski himself cites his sources.

To make it simple, Thomas wrote "GS must be considered 'models of models' or 'models of modeling'.", wherein he picked an overly general abstraction, because general semantics does not model the modeling process itself; it only models two specific modeling proceses. That is the difference between a general process and specific application areas. The structural differential provides a single, specific, modeling structure with two applications - human modeling of the environment and cultural scientific knowledge modeling the environment. modeling modeling would be a higher level abstraction which would have general semantics as a specific example, as well as a host of others modeling applications.

Welcome to the world of metaphysics and epistemology.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, August 13, 2008 - 08:39 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Milton, Review your grammar.

The "is" of exsistence is intransitive.

To say that X exists using the verb 'to be' one simply writes or says "X is."

Descartes writes it as a conclusion about himself.

I think, therefore I am.

In the third person, we would write "The world is."

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, August 13, 2008 - 08:48 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Milton, ""Epistemology must ultimately be based on "non-identity"". "is" the basic premiss of Popper's philosophy of science. I do hope you have credited your sources.

Moreover, although the specific wording is different, the notion goes back to the Ancient Greeks as is illustrated by the allegory of the cave.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, August 15, 2008 - 08:41 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Milton, I personally remember that you were present at some of Stuart Mayper's lectures in which he explained both Popper's philosophy using modus tolens as well as special relativity using simple algebra. That you have not read Popper directly does not excuse you from proper time-binding and crediting your secondary sources.

One of the problems with lack of consciousness of abstraction is that people tend to think they invented notions that they were previously exposed to. We abstract sub-consciously and we reformulate - often thinking we "invented" something. Proper academic research involves searching for hypothetically-our notions and finding the time-binding record sources. We then cite chapter and page and properly identify our source, including when we are presenting a paraphrase or an interpretation even when we think we are presenting original material. This allows the reader to go get the source material and perform their own abstraction and to independently judge, evaluate, etc., your (our) own formulation compared to the source material.

Evolutionary epistemology predicts that people will "put two and two together and come up with five", especially sub-consciously. That surmise must now be tested per the scientific method. In this case, it means reviwing one's own experience for possible exposure to the elements and combinations. Your hypothesis that your formulation a) has nothing to do with Popper, and b) is original with you, is contradicted by the evidence that you attended lectures at which the material was peresented, so your "claim" is "falsified" by Popper's method itself. You may have polished some formulations, but the notions they express were previously experienced by you. What happened? Did your eyes glaze over when Stuart brought in the technical vocabulary of valid logic and algebra?

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, August 16, 2008 - 08:52 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Milton, your "conscious" memory does not include what you absorbed unconsciously, and that applies to all of us. It is why in advanced academic programs such as masters, doctoral and post doctoral programs strict adherence to extensive research of existing literature and meticulous documentation of sources is strictly followed.

The Institute articles of association explicitly described general semantics as "modern open applied epistemology", a phrase that Bob Pula quoted often enough, as I recall from seminars, and at the same time, he continually expanded on non-identity as as the "A" of general semantics, non-allness as the "B" of general semantics and non-elementalism as a more significant factor is the example of language map not the territory. It was all there in several of the lectures. He might not have uttered the exact phrase you abstracted the notions to, but all the elements you mention were continually and frequently addressed.

Stuart continually pointed out that the language (of science) is not the territory, and that theory statements were not the territory. You cannot have a two-level semantic theory by confusing ("identifying") map and territory. Non-identity in Stuart's lectures was built on and applied in Popper, and it was the basis of long discussions of the difference between "true" and "corroborated", a distinction many people still do not get. Much more was said about the meaning, consequence, and application of the non-identity perspective in Stuart's class than actually using the term itself.