IGS Discussion Forums: Learning GS Topics: New Definition of Multiordinality
Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, July 15, 2006 - 06:58 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

I have pointed out that Korzybski's definition of multiordinality as a property of terms is incoherent. See my discussion for the details. Any replacement new definition must provide a clear way to distinguish such terms from those that are not multiordinal. This is a case where two-valued logic applies. If multiordinal is to be meaningful it must be very clear when a term can be evaluated as having such a property. This is not the same as a two-valued orientation. In a two-valued orientation, the person does not recognize when two-valued logic does not apply. In the application of the definition, determining when a proposed term fits the criteria may be problematic, and may result in "fuzzy" application of the definition, but the definition itself must be clear. In that regard, Korzybski wrote pages and pages of discussion (available at my link).

As a further note, your proposed "defining" implies that such terms have no general or specific meaning. All the work in natural language translation and artificial intelligence has produced libraries full of material delineating various structural ways of explicating the meanings for words. This includes multi-meaning ('overloading') Propositional functions ('frames', object oriented programmings, functions, etc.) In the previous discussion I gave an example of overloading.

But overloading is just an example of multi-meaning, and we do not want to confuse any new definition of multiordinal with multi-meaning or any other established general semantics terms. In my article linked to above I propose a way to salvage Korzybski's definition. In my salvaged definition.


Korzybski's term 'multiordinal' can be salvaged simply by recognizing that the terms have the "same" dictionary meaning at all levels of abstraction, but when applied to statements and statements about statements, they significantly alter the meaning of the utterance or sentence they are applied to from level to level. Perhaps a student might be interested in looking at each of the terms that Korzybski listed and produce structural models using modern linguistic techniques.

It should be particularly noted that such terms so identified may also be used in non-multiordinal ways, so the definition should apply to a use of the terms rather than the term itself.

By dictionary definition in these cases, I am relying on the fact that these terms can be defined structurally in terms of functional parameters. For example, the word 'agree' has a structural meaning that takes an attitude relation between a person and some object or act as a functional parameter, two persons, and an object or act such that that relation applied to one person and the object has the same value as that relation applied to the other person and the same object.

Person N agrees with person M with respect to object x if and only if the attitude relation A(P,X) for person N and object x has the same value as the attitude relation A(P,X) for person M, that is, if and only if A(N,x)=A(M,x). Where A is a propositional function that can be any number of attitudes, such as like, dislike, hate, want, etc.

'Agree', one of Korzybski's named terms, entails a complex structure that requires an attitude, two people, and an object in a structural relation. This level of defining does not change from level of abstraction to level of abstraction. People can agree about facts, about inferences, about judgements, etc.. So here is one of Korzybski's terms that would not meet your proposed definition. The term has a clear structural meaning at all levels of abstracting.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, July 15, 2006 - 12:22 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

You wrote


In a string of statements like "I hate cats. I hate hating. I hate hating hating.", the value we have for "hate" on each order is indeed different. For example, on the first order, "I hate cats," "hate" might be valued as negative. On the second order, "hate" might be valued as positive; that is, hating is a 'bad thing,' but 'hating hate' isn't such a bad thing ... heck, maybe even it's a good thing!

Ben, I think you are confusing the overall meaning of the utterance "I hate cats." with the meaning of the terms in the utterance. "I", of course, "means" the speaker - it's referent, and "cats" generally "means" "all" animals in the class of cats. We usually infer that an individual cat may be substituted and produce an equally true sentence, such as in "I hate Tabby (a particular cat)." When it comes to the verb, hate, the "meaning" is structural with "empty place holders" such as in "...(1) hates ...(2)". What does that mean? It means a relation between ...(1) and ...(2). We know that Some entity has a particular attitude about some individual thing or class.

When you put a person (I) and an object (cats) together with the verb, you get a composite meaning that is the value of the entire utterance.
We can judge "I hate cats" as negative.
We can judge "I hate hating cats" as having some kind of possibly positive value with respect to cats, but that is only if hating is seen as more strictly two valued. It may be evaluated as negative with respect to hate. (And this involves the potential oxymoron of self-reflexivity to really muddy the waters.)

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, July 15, 2006 - 11:27 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

The "meaning" of a term can be more that its extension or its intension, as is the case with nouns. With verbs like running or swimming the extension or intension is an action, but in order to picture the action an object is needed. We cannot picture or think of swimming without an animated being or object to "embody" the action. We apprehend "John runs" or "John is running" as a composite of the body John and an effect on that body which may or may not be. Since these sentences may be false as well as true, but the "meaning" of 'runs' without the body in question is incomplete; it has a "place holder" for a body. In mathematical symbols "Runs(x)" or just "R(x)". The "structure" of this meaning is that of a function or a propositional function that requires an object (entity) to be complete. The "structure" is like a pedestal with a hole in it waiting for somebody to put a statue with an appropriate sized peg to fit into the hole into the hole. Once done the statue and pedestal stand as a unit. There are many such pedestals (verbs) and statues (nouns) that can be put together to make statues. Some stand up (true). Some do not (false).

In the case of 'is', as in "is running", it is a structure with two holes, "...(1) 'is' ...(2)", or in prefix notation "Is(X,Y)". The meaning of functions (which map to values) and propositional functions (which map to propositions) are neither fixed values nor specific propositions. They are "incomplete", because the missing element must be supplied to make a complete thought.

John said, "Swimming".
Mary said, "What do you mean by 'swimming'?"; your structure is incomplete.

I hope that provides enough to explain what I mean by "the meaning is structural.".

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, July 15, 2006 - 11:49 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Ben, You wrote "... in the first interpretation the meaning of "hate" is that specific emotional reaction generally construed as negative, and in the second interpretation the meaning of "hate" is something bad (i.e., a judgment of "hate")."
I think you are confusing the meaning of the word with the meaning or value of the utterance.

Hate can be described as a two-place predicate that requires an agent (to experience the emotion) and an object (to be the focus of the emotion). When that predicate is filled in with specific values for the agent and object a specific proposition results. That proposition may be judged by a person to reflect a positive or a negative attitude by that person. This is another, higher, level abstraction that is getting even further away from the structural meaning of the term 'hate' itself.

Hate(x,y) has no value.
Hate(I,cats) is a propositional function whose value depends on providing a particular cat, and whether or not the proposition so formed is true.

When you talk about "judging" either of these sentences as being negative or positive, that is a further level of abstraction, and a new utterance, more complex than the first.

Meaning of 'hate' = Hate(X,Y).
Meaning of 'Hate(I,cats)' = proposition "I hate cats."
Meaning of 'Hate(I,Hate(I,Cats)) = proposition "I hate that I hate cats."

Meaning of Judge = Judge(X,Y,Z) where X is an agent, Y is an object, and Z is a value.

Judge(I,proposition "I hate cats",negative.)

To say this is negative for cats requires a further inference.

If X hates cats, then X may harm cats.
If X harms cats, it is bad for cats.

So you seem to be bringing in several levels of abstraction above the minimum required to explicate 'meaning'.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, July 16, 2006 - 06:52 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Thomas said First you say "Korzybski's definition of multiordinality as a property of terms is incoherent" and then in another sentence you say "If multiordinal is to be meaningful it must be very clear when a term can be evaluated as having such a property". This is self-contradictory and so makes no sense whatsoever.
Not at all, because the first instance refers to Korzybski's definition, and the second instance refers to any proposed new definition.

If a person does not recognize when two valued logic does not apply, then that person is always applying two valued logic, and by doing so, fails to allow for possibilities in between. I fail to see why you do not think the paraphrase can be a re-statement.

In a conversation shorthand as you cite, Person 2 simply left out the "that" clause which would repeat exactly what person1 said. Person1's second statement is demanding that Person2 not use the shorthand, or possibly is playing some kind of game that violates conversation conventions. Perhaps person1 has Alzheimer's, and cannot remember what he or she said one sentence ago.
Your example is a "straw man" with no validity.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, July 16, 2006 - 07:02 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Ben, when you say I can recall the feeling of running, you are using your own body as the "object" for running. The difference is you are taking the first person perspective, "I run" as opposed to the third person perspective, "it runs". Moreover, you are descending "back" down the abstraction hierarchy into the non-verbal action-experiences that one abstracts into the verbal level when one chooses the word 'run'. By doing so, you are really adding an object level (your body) object to the understanding of 'run'. It matters not whether you picture some entity or you recall your own proprioceptive motor experience at prior non-verbal levels, both are ways of supplying some object to the incomplete "... runs".

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, July 16, 2006 - 07:11 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

No one ever "knows" what another person knows "on objective levels", not even twins with conjoined brains such as was not too recently shown on TV.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, July 16, 2006 - 07:21 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

I think general semantics is about the use of all of our knowledge about reasoning, particularly our use of "correct" scientific reasoning, in our daily lives. Korzybski himself lamented the scientist who left his careful reasoning behind when he left the laboratory, that many scientists revert to fallacious reasoning, jumping to conclusions, etc., when not in the laboratory. This is the basis of Korzybski's definition of "un-sane" as a middle category between "sane" and "insane". Using symbolism of any kind, and in particular the mathematical notations that Korzybski extolled the virtues of, together with proper application of logic, is indeed the province of applying general semantics. It does, after all, expect us to deal precisely and with valid reasoning with the verbal levels.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, July 16, 2006 - 08:23 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Ben, Don't forget that 'object' also refers to an object level experience such an a visual image at the silent level. It also includes such events as auditory "images", proprioceptive "images", tactile "images", etc. all at the silent level. 'Image' here is used metaphorically borrowing the language of vision to "illustrate" non-visual experiences. I recall the memory of what I saw, and I recall an image. I recall the memory of what I felt and I recall a tactile "image" or a proprioceptive "image" - both memory traces of prior experiences. All your experiences of "running" such as you describe and abstract from involved feeling your own body. Other non-verbal experiences involved seeing other things moving, until you learn to associate the word. Read the word and recent research has shown that the motor areas of the brain are active, so the proprioceptive "images" - stored non-verbal "object" traces - are being recalled when we think of the words that are used to describe the actions involved. Visual metaphors dominate human communications; do you "see" what I mean?

The symbolic functional approach to language analysis from which I borrow can be found in lots of literature in formal semantics, Montague grammar, etc.. One of the advantages of expressing something in mathematical style symbols is that the connotations of the words get "abstracted out" leaving behind more "pure" structure - structure being the only content of knowledge according to Korzybski. Of the four levels in the use of language general semanticists are "supposed to be" interested in the first three levels as they relate to human nervous system processing and functioning. Such symbolism with respect to the semantics of language becomes one of our interest areas to relate to research on brain function as well as human conversations connected to behavior.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, July 16, 2006 - 08:58 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Ben, You write "... if Korzybski found it valuable to use such symbolism to talk about multiordinality useful, he likely would have ..."

The structural approach to formal semantics had not been developed in Korzybski's time. I believe that is partially why he "misplaced" the constructed complex meaning of utterances as being in the words he labeled multiordinal.

The first computer was not even invented until 1936, and the the first commercial computer only in 1951. Korzybski, it is safe to say, never had a chance to learn how to structure such an operational approach to language beyond the simple diagramming of sentences. The vast and rapid development of computer languages brought much understanding after Korzybski's time. It's our (modern generation) job to incorporate all that knowledge and update general semantics accordingly.

Korzybski also wanted to address the book to the general public, so the frequent use of mathematical symbolism throughout the book would have been seen as "turning off" those with less math experience or those with math phobia.

Suffice it to say, much has developed, since Korzybsk, to allow us to better understand and formulate the issues of general semantics - grammar, logic, semantics, and their relation to human nervous system processing - in structural terms.

All language use becomes the manipulation of category terms, categories to which we map our non-verbal experiences, and, in the use of such categories to communicate, we hope that the listener brings some "appropriate" experiences to his or her interpretation of the words and symbols.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, July 16, 2006 - 09:20 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Thomas, Earlier you wrote "I like to think of myself as a fairly intelligent person so either I have been deceiving myself or this is gibberish."

I would not see "not understanding" as limited to these two possibilities as "either ... or ..." would suggest. The most common reason for not understanding is a lack of the specific experiences involved. This in no way says anything pejorative about the person or his or her abilities. Intelligence - the capacity to deal effectively with experience - is not knowledge - the having of many experiences to draw upon. It requires knowledge in the area in question and intelligence to conclude that some formulations may be evaluated as "gibberish". What, after all, does "Jabberwocky" mean?

For me, "confusion" is the first stage of learning. It brings to my attention that I do not have a model to account for the words or experience that induced the confusion. I never feel that there is something "wrong" with someone who simply may not have traveled some of the particular paths I have traveled in this life.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, July 16, 2006 - 01:56 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Ben, the frame structure of blowing requires an explicit or implicit agent. The metaphor is based on the more extensional instance of a person performing an act of exhaling air in a directed manner. "The wind blows from the North." is depicted in old maps as some cloud-like god with pursed lips. We know how to blow. The act of blowing requires our motor circuits and our sensory circuits that feedback telling us what we are doing. Those two processes, which recent brain research shows as intimately connected by simultaneous activity in both the motor and sensory areas, constitute a non-verbal object with structure Blow(Person,air).

The generic abstraction metaphor Blow(Wind,air) personifies the act from a person to an anthropomorphic representation - an abstraction. To understand the structure of "blowing" as in blow, we need to get down out of the higher level abstractions. A scientific explanation of wind involves density, heating, pressure, difference in temperature, and many other factors. But our shorthand worked before we had good scientific models, and it's convenient today. If you were to get hooked up to machines monitoring your brain function, and you were told to think about blowing, the motor areas associated with lips and diaphragm would both be active. Your body supplies the non-verbal object for understanding "blowing".

I recommend the Lakeoff books that Nora recommended. "Metaphors we live by", (latest edition) and "Philosophy in the Flesh".

At the very best, "blowing" is the movement of air, but motion in a friction filled environment always requires a motive force. The base of our metaphor is a person. The Science is a difference in temperature causing a density difference creating a potential gradient under gravity, and in the absence of physical blocks, mass moves under the influence of gravity. This engine is driven by the energy from the sun. But it is still a convenient shorthand to say the North wind is blowing, and, without a detailed knowledge of science, that becomes metaphorically grounded in a person blowing.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, July 17, 2006 - 10:08 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Ben, You wrote You can choose to call a body "implicit," but such saying from my perspective would be to misrepresent the territory. An object and an action are different concepts/formulations, and they can be considered without respect to the other. To say otherwise is to disregard the abilities of imagination. There is no doubt to me that they are often considered jointly, but there is no mental requirement that they coexist.

What I have been saying is that brain research that I have read, and I'll have to try to find references, has shown that motor areas of the brain are active when the subject is thinking of "running". Our brains do not learn actions without objects. All actions that we learn involve motor activity. A first low-level abstraction from our direct motor activity experiences is simply remembering such actions at the silent level, and the research shows that the motor areas are active at this time. It is a higher level abstraction that tries to divorce all the objects of our learning and experience with individual actions and form a higher level action function. Even if that can be achieved non-verbally, it still is a higher level abstraction from our basic experience.

I tend to think of "mental" as elementalistic, because every so-called "mental" activity is instantiated in physical neurological activity. There is no "mental" without "body".

Unless, of course, you are a Cartesian dualist, and believe there is some "mental" (non-physical) substance that can convey the "soul", "spirit", "ghost", "essence", of a person after the death of the body. If that is your premise about "mental" then we are talking with different starting premises.

If by "mental" you mean primarily verbal levels, certainly the word can be separated out from the sentences it is usually in, but recalling the structural differential, we don't get to the verbal levels without going through the object levels. If your brain has a thousand difference instances of yourself running, there may or may not be common circuits that are always active when something running is remembered and never active when something running is not considered. Because of the way memories are laid down, there may not be a single area. Can such a common area be activated without any activity in any of the associate object areas? Not according to what we are coming to know about brain function. The brain operates auto-associatively such that activating a part of a pattern will stimulate the response of the entire pattern. We cannot NOT associate.

An implication of all this is that every action we learn is learned with associated motor area activity. We know how to do something simply by being ably to recall the motor sequences previously used. In thinking about it, the final execution step is inhibited. In performing, the final execution circuits are not inhibited.

If you think you can think of "running" simpliciter, try explaining it without reference to any body or without reference to any other words that use any body concept.

Some philosophers talk about "qualia" or the "raw feel" such as "just seeing white". We cannot know that we are seeing white unless we know that we are seeing, and we cannot know that we are seeing without knowing we. As Descartes put it, "Cogito ergo sum."

All thinking requires body, and the object starts out as our body, but we can through the use of mirror neurons project and empathize another's body. By actual research, if you try to think about "running", your brain will have activity in many associated object areas, even if you attempt to supress conscious awareness of these things. They generalize with their own high level abstraction as a generalized object - like a variable. With mathematical notation experience, these can quickly be recalled as a relation between an entity and an activity succinctly symbolized as Run(agent). If you put in a particular agent, such as "John", you get the proposition "John Runs", or you can get a truth function whose value depend on whether or not John runs - true if he does, false if he does not, uncertain otherwise.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, July 17, 2006 - 10:13 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail


String of statements or not, in the posting I'm referring to (that includes "I hate cats, I hate hating, I hate hating hating"), I show how the value for "hate" (positive or negative) changes for each statement ("level"). That is, "hate" on one 'level' might be a bad thing, but on another 'level' (as in "hating hate") might be a good thing. Etc

It is not the value of the word 'hate' that changes; it is the overall value of the entire sentence that contains the word that changes.
What the PERSON means changes, but the "meaning" of the word 'hate' itself does not change.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, July 17, 2006 - 11:21 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Hi Nora, You said Unless you posit that words have meaning independent of their use (and I don't think anyone here does)

This addresses all readers.

I understood this as the first level of multi-meaning - the dictionary definition - the second level being dictionary definition in a specific context, and the third level being in the same context but in different brains. For me, "meaning" always involves these three levels. The highest level - dictionary definition - must be clear and concise. But the lowest level involves our individual responses (hearing) and abstractions (speaking), and the context connects with the meanings, all three level, of the other words in the utterance as spoken or heard. (And, of course, in talk what we hear is not necessarily what was said.) See also my sematic reaction addendum.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, July 18, 2006 - 11:36 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Ben, levels or orders of abstraction are particular kinds of sequences that are hierarchical. Any utterance that is about a prior utterance is automatically at a higher level of abstraction. In "I hate(1) hate(2).", hate(2) is prior, because in order for hate(1) to be about hate(2) hate (2) must be already available. Your first depiction is the proper one, and distinguishing between the two is very important for understanding general semantics.

"This is true. And that was true. And that was true, too." uses indexicals 'this and 'that', and indexicals require referents. No referents were specified, so the sentence is total nonsense; it could have "meaning" or "sense" only in a context involving its speaker pointing at the three individual referents. Paying attention to the indexicals does not resolve the referents. Your comments following make it clear that your formulation is better written, "This statement is true. And that previous statement was true. And that previous statement was true, too." Here the added modifiers provide the referents for the indexicals.

You and others continue to talk about the value or meaning that a person provides to an entire sentence or utterance as if that meaning is somehow ensconced in a particular term in the sentence. I have mentioned this several times, but it has appeared to fall on deaf ears. The meaning or value of the whole sentence or utterance changes when different words are used or added. Failure to think of the compositional character of the meaning of a sentence; thinking of it as residing in some putatively changed "meaning" or "value" of one of the terms in the sentence is confusing levels of abstraction. A sentence is made up of words. The meaning of the sentence is the composite effect of the meanings of the individual terms - some referential, some relational, some structural.

This applies at all three levels of multi-meaning.

Just because the overall meaning or value of the sentence or utterance changes, does not mean that the meaning or value of the terms that go into making up the different sentences changes. You use bricks to build a house. You can build many different houses with the SAME brick structure. Each house has a different value or meaning, but the meaning or value of the bricks remains bricks - building blocks that interlock to create different wholes. Their value or form does not change. The meanings or value of words do not significantly change, aside from multi-meaning, when different sentences are built.

Let's get up to speed on the principle of compositionality. The resulting composite meaning of the sentence does not go "backwards" to alter the meaning of the building block words. Such would be the reverse of the normal order of abstracting. It would be like going back in time and changing yourself - an untenable paradox. See "All You Zombies".

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, July 18, 2006 - 12:32 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Steve, Thanks!

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, July 18, 2006 - 12:50 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Ben, The sentence conveyed no meaning to me because the indexicals were not directed until sentences later. Moreover, I stated as part of my sentence, "it could have "meaning" or "sense" only in a context involving its speaker pointing at the three individual referents". But the sentence cannot stand by itself without some additional explanation. An "indexical" (such as 'this' or 'that') normally requires a prior referent (pointing) or antecedent (formulation). My English teacher taught me never to use an indexical that did not have a clear antecedent (previously written noun, phrase, or sentence), and my subsequent academic work has reinforced this.

It's interesting (to me) to note that the codeword 'this' is now used in JavaScript to indicate the currently selected object. In implementation, before the formulation is acted on by a function or method, a pointer to the referent is supplied.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, July 18, 2006 - 08:34 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Nora, Good clarification and evaluation. Thanks.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, July 29, 2006 - 06:02 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Gottlob Frege proposed a formal definition for set theory. Bertrand Russell discovered a contradiction, caused by allowing a set to be a member of itself, in 1901 and informed Frege in 1902. Russell's paradox, as is it known, prompted Russell's development of the theory of types, in which each subsequent circular reference in a formulation must be taken to be a higher type. Korzybski adopted this as part of his levels of abstraction. English without type or level indexes commits the Frege inconsistency. "Love of love" is an example. "Love(2) of love(1) indicates the levels per the theory of types. We can, however, argue that this should be written as "Love(1) [basic adoration] of Love(2) [the abstract idea of 'love']" by claiming that the utterer is fond of a general idea, rather than he or she is pleased with being attracted to somebody. Without qualifying context information, the sentences do not convey what a potential utterer is trying to say, and any analysis of such fragmentary formulations fixes on the semantic reactions of the person doing the analysis. "Love of love", written without any indexing, uses the Fregean formulation shown to be inconsistent.

One difficulty with this type of formulation, it seems to me, is that we have abstracted out of all normal human communications and activities - completely out of all contexts. Now, without any particulars, we seem to be arguing about what the formulation, divorced from any original context, might mean.

The problem would not happen if we spoke about our circumstances from the perspective of lower, more extensional, levels of abstraction.

I feel excited, animated, lively, etc., when I am with someone, or when I think about someone, or when I recall activities with someone, etc., to whom I find myself attracted, and I like those feelings. I think we can generally get a pretty good message across without resorting to ambiguous high level abstract circular terms which we sometimes label as multiordinal.

But then, I've been accused of being overly verbose, pedantic, bogged down in details, etc..

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 01:54 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

If you use scene1 to refer to part of a play and you use scene2 to refer to the whole of the play, the word scene [without the index] becomes an abstraction from the other two that is without benefit of the individual context indicators. With regard to the "territory" scene1 and scene2 is intended to direct the reader to, the term loses its semantic referential context. Talk about what scene "simpliciter" means become a futile exercise until the participants of the talk get down to specifics (extensional orientation). As Korzybski was relatively imprecise in his use of the terms 'order' and 'level' it remains for succeeding generations to better abstract and reformulate "abstract definitions" of the terms and clarify their subsequent use. The term 'scene' as you describe your use is not used multiordinally, because it is not used about formulations. It is used about events or directions for events, although the hypothetical uses of the term apply to a part or a whole of a play respectively. In this regard the use of the term would qualify as multi-level. If the term is applied to a statement about a play, and it is then applied to a statement about the first statement, then it might satisfy Korzybski's definition of multi-ordinal as discussed in my paper.

The term 'yes' by itself cannot be any of these things except in so far as what the term is be applied to. "Yes, [sentence a]" and "Yes, [sentence b about sentence a]" taken together shows a use for the term 'yes' that exhibits multiordinality. But since 'yes' can be applied to singular statements, it can be used in a non-multiordinal way also, as can most so-called multiordinal terms.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 02:04 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

"Abstraction" as a noun refers to the output of the process of abstracting. The term "abstracting" can be thought of as a more general synonym for "map making", and "abstraction" can be thought of as a more general term for a "map".

"Mapping" is a metaphorical expression of "abstracting". Literal mapping is also a particular context example of abstracting.

Because the nature of abstracting is to move from one level of structure or detail to another (more general) one, it can immediately be applied to any higher level sentence about any other sentence. It is perhaps the quintessential "multiordinal" term.

See Abstraction.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, January 24, 2007 - 12:09 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

The difference between the middle person and one of his or her two cohorts standing in the "center" of the room illustrates the concept of precision. The middle person is more precisely in the center of the room than the other two. The "margin of error" is smaller for the one than for the other two. If you are using the term 'order' to indicate a varying "order of magnitude" or "size" of the area included in what you, in each different case, intend the word "center" to indicate, you are also dealing with varying precision. I do not belive we would normally use the term 'order' in this manner within or outside the general semantics community.

Before you ask if a term can be considered multiordinal, you need to test it in the following manner.

Find a sentence that the term may be applied to.
Then construct a sentence about the first sentence (without the term applied).
If the candidate term can then be applied to the second sentence in a similar manner as it can be to the first sentence, then you may consider it a possible multiordinal term - at least in the test use.

In your profession, you are undoubtedly familiar with plays about plays. These represent different levels. The inner play has a structure similar to the outer play, and many things can be said by the outer play about things said in the inner play. Words that can be applied equally to the statements in the inner play and the statements about those statements in the outer play can be multi-ordinal.

In your example about center, you nowhere exhibited any sentences about sentences. You were only talking about imprecision in the use of terms to indicate - not about terms being applied to different level of abstraction - statements about statements.

Precision can be metaphorically thought of as rings of concentric circles. Levels of abstraction require different circles at diferent levels, such as the child's toy towers of Hanoi. The rings are each different, but the size of the rings would represent precision. Smaller rings are more precise.

People use the term 'fact' to refer to an event or condition "in the territory". They also use the term 'fact' to refer to statements about an event or condition "in the territory".

1) Describe territory: Snow is white.
2) Describe formulation: "Snow is white."
1) Snow is white is a fact of the matter.
2) "Snow is white" is a statement of fact.

3) The weather man determined that Snow is white.
This too is a "fact".

So 'fact' can be applied to both the territory and the map. to a statement and a statement about a statement (quoted).

Mapping where the geometric center is, however is not an issue of multiordinality at all; it is an issue of accuracy - that is whether or not the map corresponds to the territory.

Knowing where the center is is also not an issue of multiordinality, because it does not deal with applying a term to two different levels of abstractions involving a sentence about another sentence.

It is, however, the fundamental question that general semantics tries to answer, and the answer is that we cannot "really" know; because the best we can do is make a map, and continually test it. We cannot "verify" our maps, although we can corroborate them. We can construct many maps that all agree with each other, but we won't be able to get outside the mapping process - ever.

Even when you go out and physically look at the territory, you are creating your own abstraction, and if the maps are "up-to-date", then you will be able to favorably compare your neurological abstraction of the territory to your neurological abstraction from the map and say - Ah ha! this map is "correct".

But you cannot get to the territory without any neurological abstracting.

Just because your are uncertain about your maps, or you are imprecise about them, does not mean that the map element (word) is multiordinal.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 11:27 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

You confuse "multi-ordinal" with "multi-meaning". You can talk about what a term refers to or "means" - designates, indicates, etc., in various degrees of precision. Whether it be "center", or "hate" as applied to a person's attitude imprecisely about characteristics of politicians. These are all aspects of multi-meaning. They are NOT aspects of multi-ordinality. Multi-ordinality always involves a term referring to both a statement and another statement about the first statement. This is a VERY SPECIAL CASE of multi-meaning. You have not been specific enough. You MUST have both a sentence and a sentence about the first sentence, and the proposed multiornal term must be separately and correctly appliable to both sentences - the first sentence and the second sentence about the first sentence.

We must NOT let the use of the precise technical term 'multi-ordinal' "degenerate" into a synonym for multi-meaning, but that is precisely what you and others are doing. General semantics will be come watered down into less than it was intended to be if you and others continue to use technical terms with less precision.

That is the road to general semantics becoming just another self-help cult.

Remember, a term is multi-ordinal ONLY if it can be successfully applied to both a sentence and another sentence about the first one.

In "I hate politicians", no such applicate is exhibited. Arguing about various applications of hate to different behavior is simply being more extensional about the intended referent of the term 'hate' in the context. That is merely multi-meaning(3) the same dictionary definition in the same context but in different brains.

If you drop the idea that multi-ordinal terms must be applied to two different sentences, the second about the first, you are no longer talking about "multi-ordinality"; you have dropped down in precision to mere multi-meaning.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 01:02 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

"Multi-level" (with respect to language).
Multi-level (a visual "metaphor").