Archive | March, 2014

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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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.

 

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