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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