Meta Concepts Equal Thought

25 May

Cogito ergo sum: Decartes wrote: I think, therefore I am.

This has inspired some conjecture on the nature of thought. Here we will not concern ourselves with what thought is, we will concern ourselves with what precedes thought.
I would change that: I am what I am capable of thinking.

I think like a human being, therefore I am a human being. A human being is able to think about concepts. Thinking is in fact metaconcepting. If I were to think like a dog I would to all intents and purposes be a dog. If I were to think like a whale I would almost certainly have to be a whale. There is no other way I could have a clue what concepts a whale has. Even the concept of hunger might be different for a creature who streams algae through its teeth.

Concepts precede thought.

You have the concept of hunger when you are hungry. If you have never been hungry the concept of hunger is difficult to conceive let alone think about. “Let them eat cake,” makes perfect sense to a little girl who has never had to go without anything.

A human can only think about those concepts it is A) aware of and B) willing to think about.

Thinking about concepts has survival value because what has survival value in one context may be dangerous in another. Creatures that cannot question their concepts find it far more difficult to adapt to new situations.

Once we accept that all concepts, including the concept of thinking about concepts, have survival value then the question becomes not “What is the concept” or “How do we define the concept” but “What survival value does the concept serve and how does it serve it?”

What survival value does the concept of a hammer serve?
How does it serve this survival value?

What survival value does the concept of evil serve?
How does it serve this survival value?

We need a metaconcept. A concept of concepts.

In order to examine this metaconcept full spectrum I choose to deal with what is currently a very controversial subject: Homosexuality.

On the surface GLBT behavior is counter survival.

Think about it: There are just under 57 million miles of land mass on the Earth. If there are only a couple of thousand people on the Earth, and they only live to be 25 years old top end, then everybody has to pitch in and do their heterosexual best to procreate.

Simple.

But wait a minute: Now days there are over 7 billion people on the Earth and still have less than 57 million miles of land mass for them to live on. At 640 square acres to a square mile that is 36.5 billion square acres. Each person can get about 5 acres to live on.
Did I say wait a minute?
That person doesn’t just get to live on that 5 acres. It has to produce enough food for them to live on. That might be okay if all the land were arable. But it is not. Only about 7.7 billion acres are arable land. In order for each on those 7 billion people to have 1.3 acre each of food producing land we have to move them all into non-arable land. About 52 million square miles are habitable. If you want to get into this you might start your search at http://one-simple-idea.com/Environment1.htm.

To sum up: At some point homosexuality is not only natural it is the most effective sexual survival concept in an over populated world, or over populated part of the world. At some point heterosexual behavior is counter survival behavior when it comes to protecting the human species.

 

 

 
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Survival and Concepts

17 May

1> No creature is capable of having a concept that is not directly related to survival.
A> In order to understand any concept a creature may or may not have one must relate it directly to its survival value.

2> Survival value falls into the following progression:
A> Survival of the individual.
B> Survival of the species the individual belongs too.
C> Survival of the overall ecology, or life itself.

A> Instinct for the survival of the individual needs no defense. It is so widely held a belief that it needs refutation, if possible.
In fact when we see instances of individuals of any species acting against its own survival most people are at a loss for any possible explanation except “aberration” or “insanity”.
Yet it has been scientifically demonstrated in several species this is not at all true.

B> It has been demonstrated in scientific studies that the instinct to save the species will override the instinct for self-preservation when certain criteria are met.
Rats, deer, and fowl, have all been studied in situations where overpopulation has become a serious problem. The study of deer, I am convinced, took place on Three Mile Island, but whether before or after the radiation incident I fail to remember.
Each species demonstrates traits similar to humans in large, overcrowded cities. From displays of hypertension to dysfunctional sexual activity, suicide, and murder.
Survival of the species overrides survival of the individual.

Survival of the Ecology over survival of the species is a little harder to demonstrate, but there is evidence, and that evidence begins with humans.
For our purposes we will define humanity as that species which has the most versatile set of concepts known to exist. No other species has yet been demonstrated to have as wide a variety of useful survival concepts as we have.
The concept of ecology over benefit to the species, in this case humanity, has come to the fore lately, but it has been around much longer.
When I was a child white people openly bragged about how they had come to American and tamed it. Made their mark. Changed the land and controlled it. While those ignorant savages, the Indians, had lived here for thousands of years and never made a single mark upon the land. It was as if they had never existed. White people then pointed to the cities, the skyscrapers, the roads, etc as proof they had civilized the land.
Nowadays most people take the reverse position. They see the Native American Indians as having lived in harmony with the land while the influx of Europeans defiled it.

Conclusion:

Our concepts are changing because just as survival of the species trumps survival of the individual, survival of the ecology trumps survival of the species.

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Concepts and Survival

27 Apr

This can get a bit abstract.

If you don’t believe in evolution it is hard to discern its survival value.

If you do believe in evolution it is still a bit difficult to follow.

Here it is.

If evolution is a fact of the universe then we humans cannot possibly be the pinnacle of it.

We can only be the last step we have encountered — At best.

Unless you are irrational, and note I did not say anything about intelligence. Many very intelligent people are irrational. If you don’t believe me check out the number of Mensa members in prison.
You would think a person that smart would either not commit crimes or be smart enough to only choose those to do those they could get away with.

Not so.

Highly intelligent people believe things that are highly irrational all the time. A good place to start would be with Aristotle. He believed things about Women and Deaf People that no one could possibly accept today. Things he could easily have discovered were wrong at the time, such as the number of teeth a woman has.

If you believe in evolution you HAVE to accept at the very least that it is possible humans are the next step in evolution, not the last step.

As species have evolved so have their concepts.

Many people consider the praying mantis as evil. She turns her head around and eats her mate while he is impregnating her. Many people consider rats vile because they eat their own, and other rats, turds.

Yet it is difficult to conceive of the mantis as having any other concept than an overwhelming desire to eat the thing upon her back. And it is just as difficult to conceive of the rat as having any other concept than a desire to eat the turd it finds in its path.

I am unaware of the survival value of a mantis eating its mate. But the survival value of a rat eating rat turds has been demonstrated. They provide nutrients the rat desperately needs but cannot get any other way.

Concepts change according to the needs and abilities of the species or subspecies involved.

The dodo did not change its concept of complete safety fast enough to save its species from the predatory humans. The humans in their joy of killing easy prey did not change their concept from hunter to farmer in time to save the dodo as a unique and viable farm animal in time to save the species. Perhaps because of their profession. They were sailors. Farmers would have instantly seen the potential and the military mind, ever alert that an army travels on its stomach, would have been very apt to have seen the potential of the dodo as a tame food source that should be protected.

I submit that every concept every creature has survival value. Species change their concepts as they are able too when the old concepts cease to have survival value and new ones are needed.

One notable example are otters. They were originally monogamous. When hunted to virtual extinction they became polygamous. This is not a simple evolutionary adaptation in form, it is an evolutionary concept in concept.

The evolution of humanity has been more in the evolution of its concepts than in its physical form.
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Manipulating Concepts

20 Apr

Let us draw a Concept Line™ for manipulating concepts.

At the far end we start with imagination. Without the use of imagination no manipulation of any concept is possible. It is possible, without words or questions, to manipulate a concept. To prove this we picture clouds in our mind. Clouds are a concept. Now we add wind. Wind is also a concept. Allow the wind to freely blow the clouds around that you have in your mind. Or if you prefer you can picture a stream. Allow your mind to freely picture birds, fish, or anything else to intrude upon your stream.

A unicorn perhaps.

Once we add imagination we next need the most useful ingredient of imagination. Play. Without a sense of play, humor, and fun, imagination is useless.

We start with sensory experience.
Sensory experience becomes memory.
Imagination is the ability to manipulate memory.

You can recall an experience as emotional, visual, auditory, etc as accurately as possible.

You can subtract from the remembered experience.
For example you can remember a physically or emotionally painful experience and cut yourself off from feeling (reliving) the actual pain.
You can picture a house with no walls, only a roof to give shade even if you have never seen such a thing.
You can picture a city with no people. You can picture a pigmy horse.

You can add to remembered experience.
You can picture a bean stalk a thousand foot tall. You can look at a puddle and conceive of an ocean even if you have never seen or heard of one. You can imagine a giant.

You can combine remembered experiences.

Thus:
That which you perceive of reality is your raw material.
Your imagination is the tool whereby you can manipulate, explore, and understand the material you have gained.
The only limits too your manipulation of this material are those things you believe to be true and explore no further. Even if what you believe to be true is true, you are still limiting yourself if you do not question it. You thus prevent yourself from discovering any deeper truths it may contain.

A true Map Thinker™ rejects all limits to thinking freely.
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The Evolution on Concepts

6 Apr

The concept of a claw hammer did not just pop into the human mind from out of non-existence.

First was the concept of a rock.

Somewhere someone realized you could pound with a rock. Perhaps this person broke nuts open with a rock.
The first stage of the concept of a hammer was born.

Somewhere someone threw a rock at something. Perhaps it was a nut in a tree. Trying to knock it down.
The first stage of the concept of a rocket was born.

Somewhere someone used a stick. Perhaps it was to dig beetles out of the ground.
The first stages of the concept of a fork and a spear were born.

Somewhere someone put a rock on the end of a stick.
The second stage of the concept of a hammer was born.

Just as humanity evolved as a species so did humanities concepts.

And here is a crucial fact:
Every concept humanity has ever developed has survival value.
I have never found a single concept that did not have survival value at the time it was conceived. Some of those concepts have had counter survival value when circumstances changed and select humans refused to revise their concepts. But every human concept has survival value in the right circumstances.

I state that concepts evolve.
This is easily demonstrated. Scientific concepts show a clear path of evolution.

Other creatures also have concepts.
Look at dogs and cats. They both have a concept of what is food and what is not food. They share a concept of humanity as a source of food and shelter.
Obviously there was a time when humans were not sources of food and shelter for either dogs or cats. At that time dogs and cats would not have this concept of humans. This concept had to grow over time.
This simple demonstration shows not only that animals do have concepts but also shows that their concepts also evolve.
In this we are not alone.

We can look at a bug as having a concept of what food is. Of what a predator is. In the case of ants and bees they must have some concept of home and community. Perhaps nothing like we humans have, but something that suffices.

It can be said that certain plants, those that turn their leaves or flowers toward the sun as it passes, have some rudimentary concept of pleasure if nothing else. It might be nothing more than warmth.

Each creature has exactly the number, or set (if you will) of concepts that it needs to survive.

The Concept Line™ starts at the vaguest sensory awareness.
A plant has, through warmth, light, or some other means, a sensory awareness of the sun. We know this because so many plants visibly react to the sun.
Whether the plant has any sensory memory of the sun when it is not present is something we cannot determine with any current or proposed technology I am aware of. However it has been demonstrated that plants discharge measurable energy when in the presence of someone who has abused them, say torn off their limbs.
Thus we can contend that plants have a rudimentary concept of pain and pleasure.

Moving along the concept line we can show that insects have a rudimentary concept of food and predator.
We know this simply because any bug will go after that which it considers food, be it a leaf or another bug, and will avoid, and or fight, those things that will in turn eat them.

Many fish live in schools. Some insects live in hives. This indicates a rudimentary sense of community.
Primates go so far as to show complex social structure and even politics.

Humanities concepts have not only evolved, but can be traced through anthropology.

Even more interestingly the human evolution of concepts can be demonstrated in its children. A baby has the most minimum concepts possible for a human being to have. As the child develops physical abilities and experience more concepts develop. For example babies are not born with depth perception, it develops later, and even then it takes time and experience for a child to judge exactly how far away an object is. Then even more time to judge how much time it will take the object, say a car, to reach them at a given speed.

However having a concept is not sufficient.

In fact having a concept, in and of itself, is only a survival mechanism only up to a point in the evolutionary ladder.
At some point what is done with concepts is more important than having concepts.

Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
I say the unexamined concept is not worth having.

So at the far end of our Concept Line™ , not at the very end, we mark a point at which concepts are not simply held, they are manipulated.

 

 

 
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Concepting Concepts

24 Mar

 

 

 

Let us go back.

 

I said that logically and grammatically discussing similarities between billiard balls, cue sticks, guns, rockets and asteroids was an act of using either metaphor or analogy. It is also pointed our quite frequently that one should be careful using them because the comparisons only go so far. The standard statement is, “If you carry an analogy too far you are sure to go wrong because they are not the same thing.”

This is based on the basic concept of logic that you draw conclusions.

A logician uses logic to draw conclusions.

 

The Mapologist™ does not.

The Mapologist™ does not use logic, except in rare, artificial instances, and they do not seek conclusions. The Mapologist™ uses Mapology™ to arrive at questions that can be verified, or at least tested.

I have said this before.

 

The question explored here is: “Why doesn’t a Mapologist™ have to be extra careful when treating analogies and metaphors?”

But like many questions that is the wrong question.

The right question is: “Why do logical people need to be so very careful when dealing with analogies and metaphors?”

 

The answer to the second question is simple. Users of logic deal with terms they believe to be true that produce results they believe to be true.

 

Logically Lake Erie is Lake Erie. It was the eleventh largest lake in the world before it was discovered and named. It still is. It can be treated as a fixed item in the universe.

 

Mapologically™ Lake Erie is a process. Every thing is a process. It has new water flowing in. Old water flowing out. It evaporates. It absorbs rain. A kid skips a stone across the water when it is still. The little circular waves radiating out from the spot where the stone landed soon fade and all is the same on the surface. But now the stone is on the bottom of the lake and the lake is forever changed.

 

This is just as true of human beings. Had I written this page yesterday, last week, or last month, it would not be the same as it is today. Were I to write this tomorrow, next week, or next month, it would not be the same as it is today.

 

When you are aware the claw hammer you use today is a continuation of the hammer you used yesterday,but is not exactly the same hammer, and when you are aware the claw hammer you use tomorrow will be a continuation of, but will not be exactly the same hammer you used today — you will also be aware that any conclusion made about the hammer at any given time is only temporarily true.

In other words drawing a comparison between life and an uphill path is not significantly different from drawing a comparison between last week’s hammer and tomorrow’s hammer.

In all situations you have to be careful you do not over do.

 

Thus all comparisons of all processes, even those that share continuity, such as a lake, a man, or a hammer, have limitations as to their accuracy and to the conclusions that can be drawn from them.

 

Thus when discussing Lake Erie today and Lake Erie of a hundred years ago you can draw analogies, you can create metaphors, you can name facts, but you cannot produce truths.

Lake Erie is a concept that has continuity.

A specific claw hammer has continuity.

 

Legally you have continuity from the day you were born until the day you die.

 

Genetically you have continuity from your earliest traceable ancestor until you have no more genetic descendants.

 

Most logical and grammatical metaphors and analogies do not have continuity. A path up a mountain and a life well lived have separate continuities. A person’s love for another and the depth of the ocean have separate continuities.

 

But all continuity aside they are all concepts.

 

A lake is a concept of lakes. It has continuity of similarity. From a single drop of water to a puddle, to a pool, to a lake, to an ocean. Each stage of the concept is a change.

Lake Erie is a concept of a lake that has continuity of itself. Each changing existence of itself is a change.

 

Nothing exists in our minds until we have a concept of it.

 

Socrates knew this when he said “We cannot discuss virtue until we know what virtue is.”

 

So now we have a metaconcept. A concept of concepts.

 

We cannot discuss anything until we understand the concept.

 

Socrates said this in Plato’s The Republic : “You cannot discuss virtue until you know what virtue is.”

 

 

 

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© 2014 All Rights Reserved

Concepting Hammers

2 Mar

 

As you can see the concept of a hammer is extensive.

As you can also see we could have ten thousand different names that label every tiny difference in any given concept of hammer. We can name claw hammers, for instance, by the shapes of their heads, the degree of curve to the claw, the weight of each, the length of the handle, and the various compositions of each. We could do this until it would require a month just to memorize the names of each possible variation of claw hammer.

And then we could declare that each “different” claw hammer was distinct and separate from all the others and you should never confuse them.

It would take a lot of study to master all of the terms. Many of those who had accomplished this would feel superior in their knowledge and education over those who did not know the “correct” terms. Even though those with the “superior” education might not be able to do the physical work half as well.

An example of this would be my late father-in-law. He lived well into his eighties and was a general contractor since the end of WWII. Bill could barely read and write. He had only a 3rd grade education and had worked on the farm all of his life. When the war came he went to France. When he came back his best friend, who had been studying for his contractor’s license, was set on consolidating his future. His friend had been better off as a child than Bill had been. He had a high school education, which was higher than most in those days. Remember in those days all you needed to get a job on any police department was an honorable discharge. He had studied hard for his contractors license and had received good grades. He had never done the work.

When it was time to go to San Francisco to take the test he did not want to go alone. He badgered Bill into going with him. Bill did not understand the need for his presence. Even though they had fought in the war together and had seen battle together, Bill was a man who could stand on his own. He had plowed the back forty for ten hours straight as a child, all alone, without any need for company. His friend had never been alone in his life.

So Bill went along. As long as he was there he went ahead and put up his three dollars to take the test.

Bill passed.

He friend did not.

They were never friends again.

His friend relied on his education to pass the test.

Bill simply pictured what he would do in any given situation, gave that as the answer, and passed.

His friend was enraged that an ignorant back woods boy had passed the test when a refined, educated, city boy like himself had not. He never forgave Bill. Nor would he ever lower himself to work for Bill.

 

Bill often drove me crazy because for many things he used the same words. I often did not know what he was talking about. For example: He called any thick liquid “Mud”. Coffee was mud. Cement was mud. Stucco was mud. Plaster was mud. Clay was mud.

For Bill “Mud” was a concept.

In order to know what kind of mud Bill was talking about you had to know the job. Thus Bill could go to the supply store, tell the proprietor, “I’m puttin up a wall in Mrs. Duncan’s kitchen and I need a couple a buckets of mud.” And the proprietor would get him the right thing.

In order to understand what his friend would say you would have to understand the nomenclature.

 

In a less extreme case, my wife, Pepper, was an artist who ranged across many areas. She did fine art painting, worked with glass, ceramics, and jewelry.

With jewelry and ceramics she often worked with wire wrapping.

Rather than naming each different kind and type of wire they are described by their qualities: Hardness, Shape, Size, and Material. Using this graded method the wire wrapper can describe thousands of different wires using only a few concept oriented words.

They do the same thing with clay with a few exceptions.

By the way jewelers use a chasing hammer, which is very like a ball pein hammer.

 

The point of this is that when dealing with a concept you can define its elements in many different ways, or degrees of ways, to obtain the degree of accuracy needed that is necessary to the purpose.

 

We could use different names for each possible difference in claw hammers.

 

Or we could simply call them all claw hammers and describe the pertinent differences to each and what made that claw hammer better for a specific reason. Such as the fact a lighter hammer is easier for a weaker person to lift while a heavier hammer delivers more force. Perhaps the materials of one makes it cheaper while the materials of the other make it more durable but more expensive.

 

Hammers are a concept.

Wire is a concept.

Mud is a concept.

 

Seen as you can make thousands, even millions, of words to describe the most tiny degrees of difference in concepts, there are far fewer concepts in existence than there are words.

 

Next blog will be about concepting concepts. A Meta Concept.

 

© 2014 all rights reserved.

 

 

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