IGS Discussion Forums: Learning GS Topics: Knowledge and Structure
Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, April 9, 2007 - 12:11 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

In modern corporate and IT settings knowledge is being defined as "the ability to use information". I shant cite a reference, because I worked as the knowledge management represenative for my employer's branch office, and I wrote on the topic, Organizing for Knowledge Management. To see what Korzybski means, we need to look at the theory of knowledge implicit in general semantics. Contrast that with the notion of structure. To put these two together you need this.

Now those links contain a lot to be digested.

If we take "knowledge" as an abstract noun divorced from any particular application area, we are essentially left with the notion of a map and the ability of the map maker/user to use the map for navigation. What seems to be common to all maps is distinctions into "structures" such that the user is able to abstract relations among those structures (and presumably project that structure onto a putative territory, as well as use the structure to navigate within the hypothetical territory). Given that "structure" is an "undefined" term, although its semantic reaction is bracketed in the above link, we have knowledge represented as the structures depicted in maps. Because this generality is abstracted above all individual knowledge areas, we are left with structure without any particular application area content.

The "content" of perception is information.
The ability to use that information is "knowledge". The information must be recognized as a map, the structures in the map differentiated - and identified with the presumed territory, and we must have enough intelligence to understand what actions we can take with respect to the map in order to achieve our goals.

Structure (maps of information) is the sole content (highest level abstraction) of knowledge (the ability to navigate maps).

Nearly a tautology, eh? "Maps of information is the highest level abstraction of the ability to navigate maps."

Review links: (1), (2), (3).

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, April 10, 2007 - 12:51 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Very simply, I would say no.

The focus is on the knowledge not on the person.

Knowledge can be transferrable, not just between people, but between people and systems. "Knowledge" has become "intellectual capital" in corporate america, and great expense is gone to in order to protect it.

"Knowledge" is something people have, and it is distinct from information. A person "knows" something only if he can use the information involved. A person is "knowledgable" when he has knowledge - the ability to use information - about a subject area.

Knowledge - noun; knowledgable - adjective.
We are defining a noun; not an adjective.

"Knowledge" can be imbedded in more than just people. It can be embedded in a system.

In the old days a short-order cook could make a nice hamburg turn out the same every time. Now none of the cooks in MacDonalds know this; they just follow the directions. The "knowledge" has been engineered into the system so as to standardize the product.

Done anyone have the ability to build an automobile? Not any more. The knowledge is built into the corporate system and uses the knowledge many individual have.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, April 10, 2007 - 03:23 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

When I was in the Navy, a Machinest Mate striker I knew had gone through MM-A school the same as I did. He "aced" the course; he was able to recognize formulations, answer questions about them, and get high marks on tests. But he was also somebody we dared not leave alone with the machinery the school was about. He could recall all matter of fact, formulation, theory, etc., about the use, operation, and repair of the engine room machinery. But he could not use that information; he could not follow the directions; he could not perform the acts he was articulate about recalling and describing. He could not use the information. The "information" he could not use has been called "knowledge".

In my post I reported a recent trend in industry - a trend that perhaps is providing a specialized, context dependent, meaning for "knowledge", and one which I think is much better than thinking of "knowledge" as just another synonym for information. The term used by lay "old timers" which might apply is "know how".

In philosophy the traditional, strong, meaning of "to know" is expressed by the entailment, "P knows x entails that x is True", where "P" is a person and "x" is a proposition.

Industry, however, rarely focuses on simply collecting "true" formulations. Industry is most often concerned with delivering a product or service through a process involving "know how" that uses information and or raw materials to produce a service or product.

Information in its purest sense has been abstracted to the capability of distinguishing states and is measured in bits. One bit is a binary digit and allows the distinguishing between two states. But the sequence of binary digits, such as 101 (decimal 5) represents one of eight possibilities. 000, 001, 010, 011, 101, 110, & 111. For this to be useful these bit sequences or binary numbers must be mapped to or associated with up to eight states or conditions.

Consider the square old school house with two stories and four corner rooms on each floor.
The digits can be mapped such that the first digit (going from left to right) represents the floor (0=first floor, 1=second floor), the second digit reprsents front or back (0=front, 1=back), and the third digit represents left or right (0=left, 1=right). Then the number 101 represents the right front upper room.

But the number 101 itself can be used to represent one out of any eight situations. It takes a pre-arranged agreement between the sender and receiver of this "information" for the information to be useful in decoding the states, such as determing which room the receiver is supposed to go to. Information, thus, is the ability to distinguish between pre-arranged possibilities.

One if by land, two if by sea, as the famous poem says, sets up the communication situation, and the signal transmits information only because of the pre-arranged agreement as to what the bits mean.

In Revere's situation there is second distinction. No lights means we do'n know yet. Both one or two lights means now we do know, and we know which. So, taking time into consideration, the situation uses two bits, a time bit, followed by a choice bit. The choice bit is meaningless in one time, so we use two bits capable of distinguishing four possibilities to represent only three possibilites.

With general semantics, all "knowledge" is maps, and "know how" is the ability to use those maps. But a map among time-binders already presumes a convention for the use of symbols to represent things and actions. Each new time-binder must learn from others the symbols and their use, and virtually no-one is capable of learning all the symbols and the things they describe let alone the ability to use the maps. We talk a good talk but few can walk the walk.

But when in Rome...

One of the reasons I'm considered verbose and pedantic is that I try to put out enough formulations that disambiguate the symbols in the way I use them.

Each of these words, information, knowledge, data, etc., has multiple uses (meanings) to various segments of our population.

In the taxonomy above,
"knowledge" is a noun that is being equated with an activity. This matches an object to an action, and that goes against our taxonomical use of language.

Knowledge is an ability (to use information) connects a noun to a noun.

I would not use the word knowledge as synonymous with the act of remembering. Rembering is recalling information (or knowledege) whichever you want to call it.

Recall that this involves a metaphor that the mind is a container - the things that it contains includes what some call knowledge, and some call information.

Since we are time-binders, I try to keep track of where I heard or learned some formulation, then I can say not that I know X, but that I recall X from such and such a source. On some rare occasions I can say I put two and two together and came up with so and so.

So, I've brought "information" forward from Shannon, and I've brought "knowledge" forward from the knowledge management aspect of industry and from metaphysics and epistemology in my philosophy experience.

Who uses what words in what way, and how can we best choose words so that they evoke the desired disambiguation in the listener? Do they even have the classification structure the speaker has? If not, "communication" cannot happen until the listener is provided with the necessary experiences. Does the listener see more possibilities than the speaker's message can disambiguate? If so, then the listner must now provide the first speaker with more experiences, and back and forth we go until "understanding" is achieved or one quits the transaction for any number of reasons.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, April 11, 2007 - 12:08 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

You said "Application" refers to the ability to use learned material in new and concrete situations. Note that "new" is in the "synthesis" level - where I would emphasize creativity.

I would liken "applying" knowledge to "using" knowledge - using one's ability to to use information. It would only be "used" in situations perceieved as sufficiently similar to the past learned examples to permit "identication" and "recognition". I would reserver the term "new" for situations sufficiently different from past learned situation as to require some deviation from the previous learned procedures. In this case I would use the word "creativity" to refer to using existing knowledge in new and untried ways. I would call this adapting knowledge creatively.

I find the taxonomy, as you presented it, unsatisfactory for the reason that it changes from nouns to verbs. True, in object oriented programming languages objects can be dynamic. So I went out to look at the taxonomy here.It does not provide a definition for knowledge. The word 'knowledge' is just a label for the first level, and I would suggest the word "recall' as a much better lable for that level. I also do not like "comprehend" for the second label. I would use "regurgitate", "articulate", "apply", "analyze", "create", and "evaluate" as my labels. The MMFN I spoke of obviously could not get to the third level.

So for industry and KM in particular, "Knowledge" correspons to Bloom's third level, and means the ability to get things done - to produce a product or service. I like it, because it goes with "know how".

Bateson implicitly defines information in the context of an organism plus environment

"In fact, what we mean by information - the elementary unit of information - is a difference which makes a difference (pp.457-459)." From: Bateson, G., 1978, 'Afterword', in J. Brockman (Ed.) About Bateson, London: Wildwood House pp. 244-245

I provide the structural character of this essential notion of difference in Organizing Knowledge.


The first level distinguishes organism from environment. - 1/0, O/E, o/e,
Second level distinctions include:
1. structure within the organism.
2. structure within the environment.
3. structure within time.

With this much structure we can define the notion of "change".

Notion: A change is two (different) distinctions in structure associated with a distinction in time together with an "identification" between distinguished structures from time1 to time2.

I also note the character of "making a difference" in On the foundations of prejudice:


Stimuli from without take three forms. Those that are to be approached, those that are to be avoided, and those that are to be ignored. No stimulus initially falls in the later category. There are basically two reasons for approaching a stimulus. It leads to a source of energy, or it is leads to a source of reproduction. There are two reasons for avoiding a stimuli. It leads to a drain of energy, or it leads to a threat to reproduction. If a stimulus neither supplies nor drains energy and it neither offers nor threatens reproduction, then the organism must learn to ignore it in order not to use energy that would otherwise be available for seeking food or reproduction.

Initially a "difference" must be recoginized as "making a difference" in the context of the organism in its environment. "Making a difference" means something that should be acted on at the current time in the current state - to approach or to avoid. That means that the difference must already be evaluated as to whether it fits into one of the three categories, approach, ignore, or avoid.

I'm inclined to suggest that Bateson's characterization of "information" leaves out the "ignore" category, and hence is too restrictive for general use; it's more appropriate for its context of organism in the environment.

It's information if it allows me to distinguish between possibilities in my map. But if I need to act on it, then that's another level. Once I have distinguished the possibilities, then I can "know" if I must approach, ignore, or avoid.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, April 11, 2007 - 01:02 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Neither I nor most philosophers would call it "knowledge" simply because it can be recalled, or even information. We can recall all manner of false thing as well as "pure" beliefs that cannot be verified one way or the other. Moreover, eye witness studies have shown that people can "recall" seing things that never happened.

We use "information" to navigate our maps, and this is a species of getting something done - namely moving ourselves really or virtually through a physical or symbolic space. Entities other than individuals, such as groups, corporations, software packages, etc., can embody this particular characterization also. The broader category, of which navigating is a sub-category, is accomplishing a task (relevant to the context).

So I still like knowledge as the ability to use information best. Such knowledge must inhere in a "knower", whether it be a person, a program, a corporation, fido, or some other animated entity.

The sound of a car contains (non-lexical) "information" for the family dog when he lifts his head and silently wags his tail at the approach of the family car, but barks like mad when any other car arrives. We would say he "knows" the difference. And it makes a difference to him.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, April 11, 2007 - 01:35 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

My formulation did not state that a difference was a difference in structure; that would be a circular definition.
I defined change in terms of differences in structure and difference in time, so I already used "difference" to apply to something other than structure.

What else would you have "difference" apply to at a simple level (not dealing with composites)?

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, April 12, 2007 - 01:26 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

I like the color purple, so I'm inclined to be "prejudiced" in favor of things with this color. That, however, is not quite the level of "prejudice" that my article was about; it was about cultural and racial prejudice. It was not about simply being biased in favor of preferences, especially not conscious ones.

We are inclined to think that such prejudice as my article was about is irrational and emotionally based. We tend to be "prejudiced" against a class of persons of a culture, race, religion, etc., not as a consequence of evaluating them, but more because we have not evaluated them.

Simply liking things or disliking them result from positive or adversive experiences as a result of interaction with them. These are learned response patterns based on experience. The foundational basis of "prejudice" I was writing about is the kind of reaction we experience on our first encounter; not those that we acquire as a result of repeated inteactions.

Prejudice is an orientation held by a person, and a prejudiced person can, behave perfectly properly, outwardly. Prejudiced can be very subtle and difficult to extract, as its a state of mind (not necessarily conscious), and therefore frequently denied.

Look, for example, at the question of racial profiling. If the statistics show that the number of blacks stopped in suspected minor traffic violations exceeds the percentage of the local population by a significant percentage, it is concluded that the police force in question is acting with prejudice.

My article was to point out two factors that suggest a predisposition towards prejudice.

The common belief is that I make a (sometimes rational) decision, then I have emotions about the object of that decision, and then behave accordingly.

In this case the decision justifies the emotion.
They are bad, so it's alright for me to be frightened.

In my foundations article I am suggestion that we feel uncomfortable because we are exposed to uncomfortably many novel differences - our nervous system is running at unconscious levels under high stimulation - high enough to cause physiological anxiety. To consciously rationalize that discomfort, we attribute it externally to the source of those differences. In other words, I feel anxious (mild fear), so I explain it by saying that the person or situation I'm near or in is bad.

In this case the emotion justifies the decision - just backwards from the former. They make me feel (mildly) frightened, so they are bad. There's no rationality to this rationalizing.

In one sense its our unconscious need to move away from overly stimulating situation - our behavior of "fleeing" - that we "justify" by projecting the discomfort on that which we flee, and subsequently evaluate it as "bad" (in order to justify our fleeing behavior).

Cognitive dissonance theory tells us that we cannot continually behave one way and simultaneously believe contrary to that behavior, so the avoidance behavior nudges our beliefs in the direction of judging the others as bad. And this will affect our selective perception enabling us to preferentially see behavior that justifies our belief. And a little overgeneralization - stereotyping - simply reinforces the trend. Just listen to Archie Bunker.

The "nature of prejudice", however, is a digression from this topic.

I understand and like Bateson's taxonomy, but not for the single high-level labels for each level. It's the more informative description of the levels. I just think the most abstract map, just the names of the levels, contain error, It's my bias due to my experience where I have come to think of "knowledge" as something that cannot be divorced from the entity that "knows" nor the environment in which it exists as well as its place in the temporal scheme of things.

I'm also biased against a common general semantics aphorism, namely that the child can begin where the parent left off. This is not entirely true, because the child must first learn what the parent "knows". We have the advantage in that we can get a refined version of what our parents learned, so that we have time to learn more, and with luck, refine the combination for our children.

The structure of the map, therefore, changes from generation to generation.

Getting back to difference applied to structure. In computers we have, at the lowest level, a binary distinction implemented as a high and low voltage level called ones and zeros. A bit can be either. Comparing two bits is a simple structure involving four possibilities. (1,1), (1,0), (0,1), and (0,0). In practice the voltages are continually changing, but a clock signal (square wave) is used to say when the comparison may be made.

Now, a function is a mapping from a set of bits to another set of bits. Both the domain and the range of the function are bits - structures - so a function is a composite structure built on simple structures. Hence comparing functions just is comparing structures.

What about a change in a process? A voltage in a circuit is constantly going up and down, sometimes fast, sometimes slowly. How can we detect a change? We have to sample the value at some point and make a map point of it (memory or record), and then at another point it time sample it again, and make a map point of the second time value (another memory record). Now we have to compare those memory records. But what can those memory records be? In the case of voltages, its a string of digits, and these are structures. Any other static map representations would also be structures. So differences in procesess is also reducible to differences in structure, and the basic, lowest level of structure is a binary distinction.

Even our memory records events in terms of a "change" in chemical structure.

Since functions map structure to structure, a change in fuctions is based on a change in structure.

Processes are practically by definition changes in structure, so changes in processes are based on changes in structure.

Motion is a sequence of positions over time.
Figure at N at time 1 becomes figure at N+1 at time 2. (The figure/background distinction identifies structure=figure)
Stop this process and Figure at M at time N+1+X becomes figure at M at time N+1+X+1.

So I'll stop this process, and it will result in a change of structure - this new post added to the topic. What's more, it's the change in structure that lets us infer backwards that a change in process occured.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, April 12, 2007 - 11:05 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Prejudice: "Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up.
Pre-Judge: usually with negative connotations.

See google.

David wrote "So, as I see it, prejudice is committed when we evaluate (favor or disfavor) an object in a maner that is inconsistent with how we would value what it's actully doing in the current context. The basic character of predjudice seems to be in pre-judging, that is to evaluate the object based on the category it is assigned to - together with an inadequate or flawed assignment to the category by the process of abstraction a minimal number of characteristics, whether they be "formal" or "functional". "It would seem that we can avoid committing prejudice if we developed the habbit of classifying and evaluating objects based on their functional attributes instead of their formal attributes." I don't think it matters whether the evaluation be based on any kind of abstraction - formal, functional, etc., The key is intensional orientation - ignoring necessary data versus extensional orientation - taking in adequate data. To pre-judge is to judge without significant basis in fact - formal, functional, or otherwise. The "militant feminist" who pre-judges all men as chauvinistic pigs simply on the basis of being evaluated as "male" serves as an example. The neurotic who prejudges everyone who behaves nicely as having ulterior motives seems to be prejudiced after (minimal) evaluation based on functional attributes.

Nora said "Well, you could alternatively describe prejudice as a faulty reaction to categorization or evaluation." We react to an individual in term of our categorization rather than to the facts of the situation; in doing so we are not being extensionally oriented; we are exhibiting intensional orientation. Continuing, "Rather than saying the problem comes from the fact that we base our decision on the wrong attributes, you could say we react to our categorizations irrationally, regardless of how we arrived at them. We are reacting to our categorization; what's "irrational" about it is that we are not reacting to the individual.
Does it make sense to say "I will dislike this person because he falls into an unacceptable category"? Not normally; we are supposed to value individuality and respect it, and judge and react to each person on an individual basis based on our interaction with them. Sometimes, however, a "Dodgers fan" in a crowd of "Yankee fans" in a bar does not get that kind of respect.

"The saying "form follows function" would seem to codify this insight."

If you want something to perform a particular function, then you must design its form for that purpose. "Form determines function" and "function determines form" are two sides of the same coin.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, April 12, 2007 - 08:02 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Ah, yes. Multiple causality. "Things" have multiple causes, and a thing can cause multiple effects. Corrolary: a form designed for one function can be used to perform other functions not envisioned by the designer. I never said that when you designed a form to perform a function that it would uniquely perform only that function. I frequently cut my steak with my fork.

Nevertheless, I see function as a composite of structure and change (being a particular composite of structures multidimensionally in space and time). In math one simple conception of function is as a little black-box machine into which you put an x and out of which comes a y. The difference between a function and a relation is that a function has a unique output for the same input whereas a relation can have different outputs for the same input.

A function is like a gumball machine with only red gumballs. Put in a penny at different times and you always get out a red gumball. A relation is like a gumball machine with different colored gumballs. Put in a penny at diferent times and you may get out different colored gumballs.

But when we speak of the "function" of some object, particularly a man-made one, we are speaking of its intended use. But becase it is usually a physical object, the intended use is only one of many possible things it can be used for, and the result is that a human using the object can do so for other purposes than the designer intended. How many western saloon brawls have we seen on TV and in the movies? How many things in just those brawls are used for other than their "intended" purpose (designer function)? Let's be sure that we don't equivocate in reasoning about "function" by confusing these two different dictionary definitions.

This one term has been being used in both senses in this thread. Ben's first two uses were in the mathematical sence, although the fuction of thinking and the function of feeling both imply a way of reacting to stimuli, I doubt either would be strictly functional, except in the case of "someone's buttons" (push it and you get the same reaction). Relational is a more likely characterization.

The three way connection is then among structure, process, and purpose or use ("function").

Now, with this analysis, I'd like to point out that "function" or "use" is merely a particular species of process. Cutting my steak with my fork involves a change of structure from time1 to time2. "Function" in this example is a way of looking at the change from the perspective of the organism acting on the environment. We're looking at something we call "purpose" - and a purpose is described as a reason for action. "Purpose", however, is not a simple primitive, as a review of "On Purposeful Systems" by Ackoff & Emery, 1972, will show. That book builds a hierarchy of structure to account for what we mean by "purpose" as being more complex than simple homeostasis activity exhibited by most mobile living organisims. So "purpose", it can be argued, is a complex built from structure and process, which reduces the three back to structure and process or if you prefer, structure and change. Things changing and change thinging (relative invariance).

Now how does this relate to Ben's original question?

No, that was not a rhetorical question.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, April 13, 2007 - 01:20 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

We must be VERY careful when we try to understand a dynamic process represented in a four dimensional space-time map. A point seen to be moving by an entity traveling in time along with the point when represented in a four-dimensional space-time map looks like a motionless line. From the four-dimensional space-time perspective there is nothing corresponding to our sense of motion. All positions as a fuction of time and all time coordinates are seen in the four-dimensional space-time awareness. When I look at such a graph I am "outside" of time. As I move my vision from one point in the past to another point in the future and back to the other point in the past, I do so in an extra dimension of time - mine.

See motion and particularly endnote 7.

As far as "structure is the only content of knowledge", goes, it is such an abstract statement that it can be argued to mean almost anythinge. It's is just the kind of high level abstraction that general semantics seems to say that we shoud not give much credibility to.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, April 13, 2007 - 02:08 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

In "On Functional Systems", the context of "Function is a generic concept as structure is." shows, reading a bit further, that "generic" does not mean independent; it is further defined in terms of cause-effect using potential and actual production, As further reading will reveal.

Page 1:
"In Chapter 2 we begin to construct our system, starting with mechanics, and working our way up to the concept of purpose."

Page 15:
"Classifications based on the common properties of production enable us to define the concepts oí function, goal-seeking, and purpose with all the rigor of the concepts used in the physical sciences, ..."

As I noted earlier, the the concept of purpose, which the book seeks to explain, as well as the notions of function and goal-seeking, are based on the notion of "production" which is, at heart, a cause-effect relation ("starting with mechanics" per Page 1). The generic notion of production is one of structural change in time. One structure or action "produces" another structure or action. And, as I noted in an earlier post, actions are temporal relations among structures.

Function, goal-seeking, and purpose are all abstract and generic notions defined in terms of structure and change.

Note that the quote from the book says that function is not in any sense opposed to structure.

Please be clear about two things:
Function in Ackoff and Emmery's terms is not at all the same "dictionary definition" as the mathematical notion of function.
Also, I did not say and do not intend that "cause-effect", when I say it, be construed in any way as a singular one-to-one relation. I view cause-effect as a many-to-many relation. We just happen to frequently abstract out one cause and one effect.

No cause exists independently of its environment and context. Similarly, no effect exists independently of its environment and context.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, April 13, 2007 - 11:44 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Knowledge, in its basic form seems to be held to be something that people "know" - whether they can only talk about it (recall), whether they can do something with it (apply), etc. The Korzybskian view of anything that we "know" is that it is the result of abstracting with our nervous systems into our memories (no matter how good or poor our brains are at doing something with it). Our "knowledeg" is the result of abstracting, and, as such, it is a map (of some putative territory).

When we take a realist point of view, we correspond the structure in the map to assumed or hypothesized ("similar") structure in the (putative) territory. But, the map IS NOT the territory; our "knowledge" IS NOT what it is about. We further abstract our non-verbal knowledge into words and sentences chosen mostly unconsciously, but sometimes consciously, as the cause to achieve an effect in the listener, which we naively assume will be that they "understand what we understood ("knew") before we encoded it into words and spoke the verbal map of our internal "knowledge".

If, on the other hand, we take an anti-realist approach, where we do not assume "correspondence in structure", we are aware that our "knowlege" - our internal pictures and impressions - can be described as structures which we DO NOT ASSUME corresponds to "similar structure" in our environment, but is simply our constructed way of understanding our abstractions. "What's out there" could be totally different from anything we have ever conceived of and still "cause", though multiple effects, the sematic reactions that we have that we call our "knowledge" - with its "structure" that includes figure and backgrounds in both (cognitive) "space" and "time".

In both cases our "knowledge" has content. It has "structure". Wholes made up of parts. This is the "structure" and "form" of our knowledge. We recall our experiences, inculding the words we use to describe them. Much of our experiences are what could be called simply interiorized imitation of verbal experiences - the recordings of what we heard (and uttered) that we learn to call words.

Mathematics is sometimes call the study of "pure" relations, and this usually means relations among "structures" or "entities" - numbers or arbritary objects. In math we have the distinction between "proper" and "improper" in various areas. "Proper" refers to the relations independent of any particular application. "Improper" refers to the relations where particular assignments are made. In set theory, for example, "proper" sets are those that are made up of only sets of the empty set. Examples: {}, { {} }, { {{}} , {} }, and so on. "Improper sets have "content" other than just the nul set. Examples {a}, {a,b}, {a,{a}}, etc.

Under some anti-realism perspectives, our memory would hold a pure response as its structures, somewhat analagous to "pure" (or proper) set theory.

Under the realism perspective, in conjunction with correspondence theory, our memory would hold a response that is a "record of the external" as its structure - somewhat analagous to "improper" set theory.

Because the external world does not "get inside" our "minds" and, because neurological responses are something totally different from that which stimulates them, and no amount of disection can find structures "similar" to anything outside the world, we can say that the structures (including dynamic) in our brains do not have any descernable properties in common with that which stimulates them. Our knowledge is simply structure built up in response to stimulations.

When a particular memory or "knowledge" structure is activated, we can perform muscle movements that result in others hearing utterances.

There aren't any "chairs", "people", "numbers", or anything else "in" our knowledge - just structures in our neurological processes that can result in controlling muscles that cause an effect on our environment.

And this seems to be true independently of whether you hold a realist or anti-realist view.

This represents the best interpretation I can give to the statement, based on my history and experiences.

If we look carefully at this view, we can see that there is no "meaning" "transferred" from one person to another. Neurological circuits activate muscles producing sounds that activate hair cells that trigger different neurological circuits, activating different muscles producing different sounds that activate other hair celles that trigger more different neuro... Hmmm - I'm getting a little deja vu here.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, April 13, 2007 - 07:42 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

I can't beat an enemy with a stick until I am aware of the structure of the stick and that it will serve my function. Function follows the awarenes of structure. If you claim the reverse, please provide concrete examples.
Show us an exmple that shows how to "know" AND "use" something prior to having awarenss (map) of its structure. One counterexample is sufficient to defeate a universal claim.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, April 14, 2007 - 08:40 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

My example is extensional and objective. The behavior has been observed in Chimpanzess. No apparent lexicon involved, The chimp (not a Bonobo), a member of a war-like primate species, uses tools in hunting and conduct "warfare" with other chimps when tribes meet in the wild. I'm sure, as a species now, they "time-bind" through the process of observing and copying older members, as well as a gestural language, but at some time in the past a chimp had to have recognized the possibility, possibily through the result of flailing, that directing the blows to another chimp had a much more powerful effect than simply hitting the ground with a branch. When in the process of learning this did the chimp begin to look for sticks to use against "enemy" tribes? How are the abstractions "form" or "structure" and "purpose" or "function" to be applied to this more objective level of description? How can we describe this situation without using a lot of high-level abstractions metaphhoric of human culture?

If we are going to look at form and function at as simple a level as possibile, what better that the evolutionary context in which it evolved? I dare say there's nothing equivalent to cognitive verbal logic involved, as these are pre-linguistic structures, however, the fact that chimps can be taught American sign language suggest that they may have the brain capabilities for syntatic reasoning, even if they don't have the proper vocal apparatus.

At some time the actions were like some other primate "threat displays" - shaking foliage, tearing branches, shaking, throwing, and hitting the ground with them, all in conjunction with loud vocalizations and feints (charges that stop short of collision). At another look in time the branches were selected for lack of or stripped of foliage and blows aimed at the opponents. During chimp "warfare" a group of males will systematically hunt down and kill members of an opposing tribe, and this agression can continue for months.

Chimps even use "meta-tools" - tools to help shape a spear used for hunting. How do we apply form and function here? (Chicken or egg?)

It would seem that a form - the form of a spear - is "in mind" and a function - something to alter the raw spear form - is also "in mind" ... or is it that the raw spear is in hand, and the observant chimp sees the form of a sharp stone, and conceives of a function - using the stone to shape the raw spear. How can we know? And where did the "idea" that the raw spear needed to be modified come from? Observing the form of past ones that worked better?

I don't find the argument of which came first - form or function - very telling when I look at more extensional descriptions of what happens or may have been happening.

I'm inclined to think this is a problem or characteristic of abstract terms in general.

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean --- neither more nor less." (*)

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, April 14, 2007 - 10:19 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

If we train a mouse to run a simple maze by placing a bit of food at the end, the mouse learns which way to turn at each turn. Once the mouse is trained, we have to describe its neurologial patterns such that when the mouse is placed in the starting box, its sensory experiences are abstracted into neurological circuts which evoke a greater set of neurological patterns of which that stimulus is a part. (This characteristic of brain behavior is named auto-associative and adaptive resonance.) The larger circuitry that is activated include recalling which way the mouse moved previously that lead to reward and it activates the circuits that move the mouse along the path, provided the mouse's overall physical state is similar to previous activity - that is, the mouse is still hungry.) At each turn new secsory experiences evoke auto-responding larger patterns that include the next movement, continuing until the mouse reaches the cheese.

The sequences of activations using various neurological circuits constitutes a dynamic map. This map is no different in principle than the nurological recordings of a concert pianist that each stimulates the next, except that the concert painist has additional associations that include the association with other auditory inputs (teachers words, etc.) and other muscular outputs (spoken remarks, etc.) that may or may not be taken as an alternate path.

Using human culture metaphors we describe the mouse as "recognizing" the start of the maze, "knowing" which way to turn at each choice, or "knowing" how to get to the cheese. This metaphorical description, however, is a much higher level of abstraction than describing a cascade of neurological activity.

Moreover, until the last decade or so we did not have enough detailed information on brain funcion to be able to describe auto-associative responding, or we had not enought "understanding" of how the detailed processes interacted to come up with the adaptive resonance model of brain function.

In ordinary English I'm quite happy to say that the trained mouse "knows" where the cheese is (likely to be). It repeats behavior sequences that got it fed in the past. Such is the "nature" (and function ) of mobile living organisms.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, April 15, 2007 - 11:53 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

On the web we have process. Wow!

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, April 15, 2007 - 11:14 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

On the web we have structure. Mentions "process" in only one.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, April 16, 2007 - 11:18 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

What is Korzybski's claim?


C) Words are not the things they represent. (7)
D) Language also has self-reflexive characteristics. We use language to speak about language, which fact introduces serious verbal and semantic difficulties, solved by the theory of multiordinality. (8)
The above unusually simple considerations lead to unexpectedly far-reaching consequences.
A) From (7)-it follows that the objective levels which include the events, ordinary objects, objective actions, processes, immediate feelings, 'instincts', 'ideas', s.r in general, represent un-speakable levels, are not words. (9)
B) From (9)-that the use of the 'is' of identity, as applied to objective, un-speakable levels, appears invariably structurally false to facts and must be entirely abandoned. Whatever we might say a happening 'is', it is not. (10)
C) From (10)-structure appears as the only possible link between the objective, un-speakable, and the verbal levels. (11)
D) From (11)-the only possible 'content of knowledge' becomes exclusively structural. (12)
E) From (12)-the only aim of 'knowledge' and science appears as the empirical search for, and verbal formulation of, structure. (13)
F) The only method for acquiring 'knowledge' is found in an empirical investigation of the potentially unknown structure of the world, ourselves included, only afterwards adjusting the structure of languages so that they would be similar, and so of maximum usefulness ; instead of the delusional reversed order of ascribing to the world the structure of an inherited primitive language. (14) S&S SUPPLEMENT III pp. 751-2

This is a developmental argument beginning with the notion that words are not the things.
1. Words are not the things they represent.
2. The things represented are unspeakable (cannot be said).
3. The "is of identity" - a verbal level phenomenon - cannot be applied to the unspeakable level.
4. Words we use to say what is happening is not what is happening.
5. The only possible link between the unspeakable and the verbal is "structure".

An unspoken assumption that the argument makes is that "knowledge" is expressed in words. Since words are not the thing, our "knowledge", then, is not what is going on.

Consequently we cannot "know" what is non-verbal.

But we have a link between the verbal and the non-verbal and unspeakable, and that is "structure".

The content of our knowledge is words, and words are not what is, consequently our knowledge is not what is. If we know anything at all, then, it is only the structure that our words capture.

We know our verbal maps, and we know the structural content of our verbal maps, but the verbal content of our maps is "false to fact" in that words are not what is, consequently the verbal content of our "knowledge" is not the knowledge that can be what is happening. The only content left, therefore, that is not "false to fact" is the structure.

Moreover, we only learn this structure by empirical methods.

There are 26 instances of "content of knowledge" in the collected works and Science and Sanity. Most of them simply use the conclusion of the above argument or reiterate the claim.

If you want to know what Korzybski considered "structure" to mean, begin on page 56 of S&S with the paragraph beginning, "The dictionary meaning of 'structure'...".

In modern terms a "structure" is recursively defined in terms of relations and order among substructures. In simpler terms a structure has parts that are put together in the ways they relate to each other (order, relation). Just to make things more complex, a "part" can also be a structure, but a "part" can also be an undivided whole. Consider a cube. A cube is a "structure" with six squares connected to each others. To further explain the cube, we must identify a square as a structure with four equal length line conected to each other with a certain angle (relation) between the line segments, such that all four are co-planer (another relation). We could break lines down. We could also describe a cube as a structure composed of 12 equal length line segments connected in a particular way to eight vertices such that each vertex connects to only three lines. This shows that "structure" is multiordinal, in that it is capable of describing things in different ways. None of these words "are" what they are about, so the structural description is only in our verbal levels of "knowledge". But the words are not what is, so the words are false to fact to the unspeakable level. Therefore the "knowledge" of the cube that relates to what is is purely structural. But, in order for us to express it, we have to add the verbal level structure.

The "true" content is the structure. The "false" content is the words.

So, according to Korzybski, what we have called knowledge consists of formulations that name structures and describes relations among them, formulations that are about what is going on. Words are not the thing, consequently the words formulating knowledge is false to fact - leaving only the structure as valid content. Translate a bit of scientific "knowledge" from one language to another requires that one who knows and understand the structure pick the corresponding formulations in the second language. In the search for "essences" this unspeakable structure that undelies all language formulations expressing a bit of knowledge become the only content that remains invariant under any language and is similar in structure to what is going on.

Ipso facto: "Structure is the only content of knowledge" (according to Korzybski's definitions).

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - 03:11 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Thomas, Korzybski's single quotes are an extensional device to indicate that the word may not be being used in the customary manner. They are equivalent to "scare quotes". When he puts a word in single quotes he is not indicating the word itself. You can find a write-up about this in Science and Sanity, introduction to the second edition. (A review of S&S will show that he uses double quotes for both quotations and to indicate the word itself.) You can also read my ojection to this practice within the general semantics community in my article On the Use of Quotation Marks.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - 03:27 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

When I use the term 'map', I do so in an extremely general manner. I include the four-dimensional space-time perspective. If you took my meaning to be primarily about representation of static objects, you left out much of what I intended. Neurons have been identified that fire in response to a moving edge. This abstracts a figure (from the background) to represent a dynamic happening. As for "type II", these represent inferences as to relations, possibly before or after they are articulated with formulations. As such they are represented in the neurological mappings of the experienced brain, and they may or may not have been formulated into words. Knowledge engineering is a discipline for extracting and codifying such "knowledge" in formulations. It would take some research to evaluate whether Korzybski included non-verbal "know how" under the term 'knowledge' - perhaps a project for a graduate student.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, April 18, 2007 - 12:23 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Perhaps On "Similarity of Structure", and it's sequel non-similar structure may provide some relevancy.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, April 19, 2007 - 01:33 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

When I first began to study mathematics, the term 'map' was used as synonymous with 'function'. The domain "maps" to the range. Functions are also sometimes viewed as "black box machines" with an input hopper and an output. Drop the coordinates of a point in the domain into the machine and it chugs out the value of the function in the range. Feed in points in any sequence and the result becomes a process.

I would personally bring topology in and mention the notion of "neighborhoods" of a point in relation to the notion of "context". With regard to language, model theory and formal language theory - which, if I remember correctly, begins with Tarski's analysis of "truth" - provide crystal clear and precise models to "inform" our notions of correspondence.

The "contexts" that you cite correspond to what I have referred to as "symbolic environments" and "semantic environments", as well as physical environments. I often use "virtual reality" as a metaphor in these regards.

Perhaps Levels or perspectives on the use of language and meaning (of words)
might be relevant.

I'm inclined to think that our verbal systems embody a map - complete with errors and omissions - that "covers" "reality" and more. Imagine everybody walking around under a tent cover; everybody is holding a pole up that supports a portion of the cover. Anyone can take down their pole and the cover remains in place, perhaps with a bit of a sag, but it does not fall unless everyone were to drop his or her pole. A new person is hooked up according to those around him or her, and when another new person comes, he or she helps hook up the next person. The cover represents the possible meanings of words in as much as they get connected to others who hold them up. One cannot disconnect his pole without losing the connection to others. Moreover, he or she cannot set up his own tent without the help of others. The tent, however, is not the ground, and it may sometimes follow some of the rise an fall of the ground, but it does not in any way match all the details of the ground below nor is it the same as the ground. Communicating with another is done through the cover, not through the ground. When one uses a word, one evokes in others their experiences with their ground and with their poles.

I think that when we both learn a particular mathematical discipline, we can come pretty close to having our poles touch. But if you learned differential calculus through the mechanism of delta's approaching zero and I learned it through the mechanisms of neighborhoods, we still have a different personal perspective even though we can both "get the same answer" (barring error) differentiating a function.

With respect to "seeking" similarity of structure, I'm sympathetic now-a-days to George Lakeoff's writings based heavily in metaphor in conjunction with neurological network responses.

As far as I understand, when we see, hear, or think of one thing, neurological abstraction ends in the activation of a neurological network in the brain. That network is not isolated; it is shares parts with many other overlapping networks. Adaptive resonance and the auto-responding nature of our neural circuits result in activating other networks of which the aforementioned network is a part or shares a lot of circuits with, and this results in our thinking of something related. This "embodies" "similarity of structure" in part, because the two activation patterns are physically related, sharing many components.

If I understood it Bertalanffy's General Systems Theory was an approach that sought to identify an overarching systems structure that could, with variation, model all other "systems". That sounds very much to me like identifying a general structure that can be used to account for all other particular structures.

Can you describe "the systems view of mathematic"? The phrase doesn't evoke any specifics for me.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, April 19, 2007 - 11:15 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Thanks for the summary.
I think your system terms are "parts", "interact", and "results".
I see "operands" as corresponding to points in the domain, "operators" as special cases of mathematical functions, and "result" or "solution" as corresponding to points in the range of a mathematical function.

When we write Y=f(X) or f|X->Y, expressing the general function, we can also write y=f(x) indicating x, an element of structure; f, the process or operator; and y, the result or solution - x and y representing particular values in the Cartesian product of sets X and Y.

The mathematical perspective is (for me) the four dimensional space-time perspective. Getting a "process" nature out of the function 'f' requires taking a perspective of traveling in time, and supplying a sequence of x values to f imagining that some dynamic computational activity then produces the corresponding y values.

Something simple like f(x)=2x+3 easily fits both paradigms. I'm not certain when X is a multidimensional space involving higher orders of infinity and possibly complex numbers, or other spaces where the elements of structure are not denumerable or not numbers. It would seem that the systems view has a more "practical" approach than some of our "pure math" toys.

Of course, having trained as a mathematician prior to becoming a systems analyst, I'm probably biased in favor of the language that I learned earlier.

I see my notion of structure as consistent with your notion of system - that is, if I understand our conversation.

Korzybski, it seems has three relatively undefined terms, structure, order, and relation. Each can be defined in terms of the other two.

I think that because of our neurological propensity to perceive figure distinguished from background, we may be more inclined to see structure as more basic, an inclination that can probably be overcome by training.

I'm open to all kinds of translations.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, April 20, 2007 - 03:45 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

In general semantics the operative word is "characteristic". Characteristics "exist" at different levels of abstraction, and the process of abstracting "maps" a characteristic at one level to a characteristic at the next level. These are shown in the structural differential as the circles connected by strings. We do not assume that the characteristic at level N is in any way "identical" or "the same" as the characteristic produced at level N+1 by abstraction.

If you are a "realist", you tend to believe that "things" exist in "reality" independently of observers, and that they have properties corresponding to "characeristics". Those "attributes" projected by nervous systems are often thought to "correspond" to properties, but, as we know from color studies, this is not the general case.

Structure <--> characteristic - as individual or collections (realist - "properties")
Process <--> abstraction - all others are projected dynamics based on models built to account for experiences, inculding the general semantics weltanschaung expresed by Heraclitu - all things are changing - or continuous change.
"Function" - a redundant way of describing structure and process, or an attribution made by people, or other entity, based on the notion of "purpose".

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, April 21, 2007 - 01:15 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

All that "stuff", "light", "frequency", "atoms", etc., is a projection of our abstract model onto what is going on. We don't directly experience, and we don't "know" what is "out there"; what we do "know" is our responses "in here". We have semantic reactions that we have built up from our history of verbal and non-verbal interactions with our environments and with people. We utter the word "atom" in ways that we think we have heard others use it. We "experience" our semantic reactions when we hear the word, or look at pictures, or through instruments, but we do not directly experience what we suppose that our experiences "correspond" to.

We see things in the clouds. We see elephants and ships and cabbages and kings when we look at the clouds. This is the best metahpor to use. Our "atoms" and "frequencies", and "light", are those elephants and ships we see in the clouds. We presume something gives rises to our lowest level object experiences and the characteristics we can abstract from that level. We further "assume" that we can know what kind of process created our object level experiences, and we assume that that process has a one-to-one mapping to our sensory experences from putative corresponding "structure" in "what is going on".

The "reality" is that we cannot know what the process is or what gives rise to our experiences. The best we can do is create a model to explain our experiences. But, throughout the history of science, time and time again a model we thought was the final and complete picture has been proved wrong. Why should we be confidente of our current model when all the past ones have been wrong? General semantics and the philosophy of modern science no longer makes the assumption that we are in possession of "true" "knowledge" about our physical world. As I am wont to say, "I am working from the basis of a not yet disconfirmed model." In the case of core physics, however, we know the model is wrong, because it does not account for the four forces in one unified theory. There's strong electo-weak "guts" or "Grand Unification Theories", and then there's Gravity.

Consequently the argument that any so-called "attribute" inheres in the "thing" that gives rise to our perception is simply naive. Look at the word "attribute"; we "attribute" (that is project) onto what is going on. What do we project? Structure. Is it "out there"? We cannot know for sure. We can test the model and find that it does not fail for a long period of time, and then suddenly a case arrives where the test fails. So far this has hppened to all past science.

In the case of color we "attribute" some structure to our models of what is going on and some structure to our models of our own functioning.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, April 21, 2007 - 06:38 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Baking a cake is a non-reversable process in which the sensible properties of the ingredients are "destroyed" and replaced with the sensible properties of the result. This is Coming to be and ceasing to be. This is not what I understand "emergence" to mean in either it's strong or weak versions.

A system of interacting components such that the individual components retain their original properties, but when interacting produce additional properties, would be a better description. For a simple example, a planet orbiting one star in a binary star system, at an appropriate distance, will be preturbed by the other star in such a manner that after seemingly stable routine orbits around the one star suddenly shifts into a figure 8 orbit around both stars, and may for a time be "captured" by the other star. (illustration) This behavior, described by mathematical chaos theory, does not seem to be anticipated.

The "argument" about "emergence" has to do with contrasting points of view, as I see it. One view is that the behavior or property "cannot" be predicted by looking at the behavior and properties of the individual components. The emergence view is strongly "anti-reductionist". The other point of view seems to be that the behavior would be explainable if all the possible interactions were known and considered. The above example fits the later view, as we now know about mathematical chaos theory.

"Emergent properties" is not as simple a concept as David suggests. See Emergence and Emergent Properties.

A paradigm case example of a claimed emergent property is "consciousness".

I shall go fishing
for emergent examples
as some food for thought.

Is being a haiku an emergent property of the above sentence?

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, April 22, 2007 - 12:32 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

There were four links. The first one was to Aristotle, which talked about your cake, but not in so few words. Here is a passage from that link to my article The Impossibility of Non-identity Languages.

Identity1 was just what concerned Aristotle in his famous work De Generatione et Coruptione. (4) In his efforts to disambiguate the "many ways in which things are said to be" he required the indication of two distinct levels (of abstraction) to distinguish between two usages. In the implied use where it is said "a thing changes" both levels are conflated. How can a thing change? Then there would be two things, not the same, yet we do say (Bob Pula's "change thinging" notwithstanding) "It is the same thing that changed". In order to resolve this difficulty, Aristotle differentiated between the substratum, which did not change, and the (unnamed) level at which change did occur. Aristotle explained (within the limits of his language) that what we say is the "same thing", but changed, requires that that which remains the same be the substratum. While he was ostensibly reporting on the differences in opinion of earlier philosophers, he clarified and explained the different ways "things were said to be" in a way very consistent with our modern general-semantic view. (From today's paradigm, we would say that he disambiguated the uses of the verb 'to be'.) He pointed out that at the level at which change occurs, the process of change entails that one thing "ceases to be" as the other "comes to be". In modern general semantics terms, we would say that the level at which change occurs (something ceases to be while being replaced by another that comes to be) corresponds to lower levels of abstraction, while Aristotle's substratum corresponds to our higher levels of abstraction. The "river" (the substratum which is the abstract general-semantic "relative invariant") remains the same, while "riverstep 1" ceases to be and "riverstep 2" comes to be.
In "riverstep 1" and "riverstep 2" "river" indicates the higher level of abstraction while "step 1" and "step 2" indicate the lower level of abstraction.

The point of this quotation is to note that, with the multiple levels of abstraction view, the "same" thing is viewable from different perspectives; at the higher level of abstraction what is seen as one thing is seen as distinct things at the lower level of abstraction, each existing in its time. The higher level of abstraction requires identificaton of the things distinguished at the lower level of abstraction.

In your cake example, the resulting properties are directly traceable to the components through detailed understanding of the chemistry and thermodynamic events taking place.

Properties of egg, flour, milk, butter, sugar, salt, mostly disappear to be replaced by properties of cake. Gone is white powder, as is clear gel, and white liquid. Arrived is porus white solid. Oh look at that. "White" is preserved", but applied to different ingredients.

Any "irreducible" properties are those that are abtracted to higher levels of abstraction, and are associated with the way our nervous systems respond. We see "white", but there is no such "frequency" of light; it is a response in our nervous system.

The whole is not greater than the sum of its parts, as during chemical bonding, heat is given off, and that carries away mass, however slight, not to mention the evaporation of significant moisture.

Value is not something that inheres in substance; it is an attitude or judgement made by an entity, and it reflects the entitity, not that which one entity values and another does not. The cake has no "value" in and of itself; it is valued by eaters that like cake.

All three criteria fail in the "system" that produces a cake.

Four equallateral triangles, all planar, attach to form a pyramid, which is three dimensional, but in order to put them together in that way, you have to bring in the third dimension. Being a solid is not emergent because the third dimension was one of the ingredients used in construction.

Moreover, just because you can quote what one group of people claim defines "emergent" does not mean that the issue is settled. Far from it, the reductionists can explain each of the supposed examples from their prespective. The two perspectives - reductionism and emergence differ by levels of abstraction, so they cannot be in conflict. Apparent conflict comes only through insisting that the apparently opposing view is "wrong".

Look at Chlorine, which we perceive as a green poisonous gas, and sodium, which we perceive as a dangerous soft white metal. When combined, with the release of heat, and cooled, we perceive the result as a white powder or as clear crystals - sought after for taste. These are not "emergent properties" because the original properties "cease to be" as the new properties "come to be".

For a property to be "emergent" in a system, all the properties of the ingredients must still be retained.

The distinction is between change and emerge.

In change a + b --> c.
In emergence a + b --> a + b + c.

Your cake and salt are examples of change.

Baby + memory --> adult + memory + consciousness.
Which comprises a change AND emergence.

That is, it will until we have enough knowledge to show how consciousness works. Then we will call it change. Strict reductionists think that way now, but admit not knowing how.

My inclination is not to call the properties "emergent", but to call it a perception from another level of abstraction.

I have an extreme reductionist model for perception, which my professor called "a causal theory of perception with a vengance, here.

"Reducing" perception to an explanation in terms of cause and effect permits the reduction of "emergent" properties likewise, as these are just higher levels of abstraction perception.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, April 22, 2007 - 12:03 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

a+b --> c illustrated your cake. It's a single level of abstraction view.

Two levels of abstraction together are required for the river example.

a --> b - [(step 1) --> (step 2)] Lower level.
AB == AB - [River == River] Higher level.

River is abstracted from step 1.
River is abstracted from step 2.
The abstraction is a "figure" that our brains "identify" from time 1 to time 2, and it is the process by which we learn and survive. Call it categorization, but it is identification from one (lower) level of absraction to the same (higher) level of abstraction.

The process is somewhat more complex, because at time one abstraction "river" is stored in memory, and at time 2 abstraction "riverm" is recalled from memory so that perception of river at time 2 is not distinguished from the recalled memory at time 2 of perception of river at time 1. These are neurological process involving the survival value of habituation of differences that neither aid survival nor threaten it. It is an extremely old processess operating at almost all levels of the phylogenetic scale for most multi-cellular organisms.

Abstraction to identification is like a constant mathematical function. It takes multiple values to a single value.

At the physical level "construct", as you symbolized it, is not applicable because it violates conservation of mass-energy by presuming the magical appearance of something that did not previously exist. It's like a recipe that leaves out a critical ingredient. It's grandma's way of protecting her secret recipe. The cake she presents to you to eat has something else in it that she did not tell you when she gave you "the recipe".

Construct involves a figure and its environment followed by a new figure and its environment in which something additional to the first figure is incuded that was not included before. At one level this is simply a change in perception.

"Deconstruct" seems to simply show abstraction, and that involves two levels. That from, and that to.

Here are two schools of thought about emergence

1. a + b (+c) --> a + b + c : It was a human cognitive failure to understand or model the process that allowed perceiving the alegged addition.
2. a + b --> a + b +^ [C] : where the left side is a single level of abstraction and the right side is multiple levels of abstraction where [C] is an abstraction from a+b.

Both are reductionist.

If the [C] is consciousness - something presumed to exist in humans, then the mechanism is abstraction based on lack of information and uncritical acceptance of time-binding reports.

It is "induction" of the non-mathematical kind.
This involves a process not unlike trying to find a mathematical function that fits a series of points - statistics. The next number in 1, 2, 3, ... could be infinitely many possibilities. Two easy examples are 4 (counting) or 5 listing numbers evenly divisible by only itself and 1. Any such inference is subject to error.

We have notions like "intelligence" and "consciousness", both of which are ill-defined, and so are "fuzzy". Consequently explaining them (completely) in terms of abstractions from lower levels is not currently available, although Jeff Hawkins book, On Intelligence does present a highly understandable (new) model capable of doing the job for "intelligence". So here we have "emergence" as a higher level induced property that is ill defined or ill understood in terms of the lower levels of abstraction from which it may be abstracted.

The Frankenstein monster was "constructed" by the addition of electricity to the assembled body parts. Was its animation an emergent property? We can't "take away" the electricity and "de-animate" it. More electricity might electrocute it and return the body to its deconstructed state, but not by "removal" of electricity (b).
But, once de-animated, it could presumabily be "re-constructed" by the addition of more electricity.

It seems to satisfy both re-construct and emerge - so these are not mutually exclusive categories.

As such, it would seem that "emerge" can be explained at a lower level of abstraction in terms of construction.

What are examples of "c" that cannot be explained in terms of multiple levels of abstraction, abstraction, induction, and supervenience?

Other than saying it's an epistemological issue, in that we do not know how the effect some would call "emergence" is produced from its parts, I see no reason to adopt the concept or term as representing anything other than another abstraction - way of looking at things.

If you are religious, then there's the question of souls. Is a soul an emergent property of conception-birth? Or are souls "added" by the maker at that time? (No emergence.) Is the universe filling up with new souls (emergence), or are they eternal pre-existing (b) that get added at "construction"?

Fortunately, its a problem I don't have to answer.

Time for me to go to my dance lessons.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, April 22, 2007 - 11:32 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

In view of this article, I doubt we can come to clear agreement; I view "emergence" as an ill-defined notion as it is philosophically controversial as to what it even means. I don't think, at this point, that it is likely to be represented in simple symbols. I can define change with perfect clarity using levels of abstraction, structure, time, differentiation, and identification. I don't see what I understand so far of emergence as being something that is well defined at similar levels of abstraction as is required to clearly define change. The notion seems to leave out too many things; it leaves too much up to the imagination of the listener.

In short, I do not see it as either distinct from change or as a type of change, as that question presumes a binary distinction. I think that change may be a structureal notion that is used in or by emergence, but I don't see it as clearly formulated.

Dance lesson was both work and fun.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, April 23, 2007 - 03:43 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David wrote, Will we be seeing you on "Dancing With The Stars" anytime soon? :-)

Fortunately not. My "fame" does not extend that far.

Copied your question and my comment to a new topic.

Perhaps getting extensional would help with respect to "emergence". If we collected some example and analyzed them, it might help, but they would have to be examples with referents rather than pure symbology.