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.”




© 2014 All Rights Reserved













© 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.



Beyond the Hammer

24 Feb

So we are going to deal with the extended concept of a hammer. If you wish, and I often do, you may make an actual physical map. Draw a circle, put a picture of a claw hammer, or write the words in the circle. Put it in the center of a large paper. I’ve been known to place tiny little toys, like for doll houses, on the floor or 4’ by 8’ sheets of plywood resting on saw horses. This is so I can move my concepts around as needed.

A claw hammer is rather simple in concept. You have a handle that you hold, that you use to swing it with. On one end you have a head that does work. In this case the primary use is to pound in nails.

Opposite the face of the hammer is the claw. This is used to erase the mistakes you might make when hammering a nail in. You can take it back out.

We have just paralleled a hammer and a pencil.

In this area the concept is the same. One end does the work and has the potential of making a mistake. The other has the ability to remove, or erase, the mistake.

Place a pencil somewhere on your map, far away from the claw hammer.

A claw hammer normally hits a nail.

A sledge-hammer normally smashes things, such as rocks or concrete. A sledge-hammer is much closer to a claw hammer than a pencil.

An axe cleaves the wood apart. A hammer uses nails to cleave wood together. Yet the principle is the same. A hammer can be as small as a claw hammer or smaller. An axe can be as small as a hatchet. A hammer can be as big as a sledge-hammer, which is about the same size as an axe.


If a hammer hits a nail how different is a stick with a curved end that hits a hockey puck? Or a golf club that hits a golf ball?


Once a hammer is paralleled with a pencil how much easier is it to parallel it with a cue stick that hits billiard balls?


So now lets follow the concept of use. An air hammer, an electric hammer, and a hammer that shoots out nails like a bullet, using powder, all serve the same purpose and are all called hammers.


Following this path along its concept line it brings us to guns as hammers. In fact we can say the bullets “hammered” into the wall.


A concept line with a gun as the source will almost automatically go to rockets.


Let us see where this brings us in our thinking:


We will use the scenario of  a heavenly body approaching dangerously close to the Earth.


If it is small enough and we have rockets large enough with enough explosive payload then smashing it like a bug with a fly swatter (Are you now able to “illogically” meld the concepts of a shotgun, a claw hammer, and a fly swatter into one?).


If it is not small enough and we do not have large enough hammer to hit it with then perhaps we can “nudge” the object with a payload that will move it away from the Earth, perhaps into the sun. In other words I am talking about using a rocket as a cue stick to pocket a comet into our big fiery light bulb in the sky.


Suppose it is so large we can do none of those. Then perhaps we can do a bit of trick shooting. Say knocking a smaller astroid out of its path, sending it around the sun in a close orbit that triples its speed and shoots this high-powered missile into the offending rock — knocking it off its path and away from us.


Mapologically™ we are playing a cosmic game of pool. Because people who think using Mapological™ Methodology see an obvious continuum between a pool stick, a hammer, a gun, and a rocket. Thinking of the various bodies in space, asteroids for instance, as billiard balls is no great stretch. If you have a good glimmer of Einstien’s theories, thinking of the sun as a “pocket” to shoot for is no stretch.


However, as has been pointed out to me, often rudely, that, logically and grammatically, what has happened is that metaphors and analogies have been used to draw parallels between things that have no real connections with each other. Logically and grammatically playing billiards, sending a rocket into space, firing a pistol, and using a hammer, are all separate, disparate, distinctly different. Then it is often pointed out that you have to be careful when drawing conclusions based on analogies because “They only apply so far”.


Yet to a Map Thinker ™ metaphors and analogies are only different in degree, not in kind. They are easier to arrive at, and apply, because they are not fundamentally different.


Also to a Map Thinker™ it does not matter how similar any two instances are in appearance they are always different to some, possibly infinitesimal degree, and one should still be careful what conclusions you draw.


Finally to a Map Thinker™ drawing conclusions is not of primary importance or concern. What is of primary importance and concern is the extraction of pertinent questions.









© 2014 All Rights Reserved

Extending the Concept of Hammers

16 Feb

Hopefully now we are at a point where we can see the world as an interconnected, conceptual map, that we can navigate from point to point. Not simply in a simple line from, say black to white, with lots of  shades of greys and grays in between, but closer akin to a map of say a state.

The map of a state will show large towns, the capital, small towns, country sides, forests, and roads leading from one place to another.

So let us try this with hammers.

The capital would be the claw hammer, the most common kind.

A claw hammer has a handle to hold onto, a head that, in most cases bats the head of a nail, forcing the nail into a piece of wood. This most often joins two pieces of wood together.

Fully concepting this idea of a hammer as an item with a handle to be held and a head that does work we can conceive of an axe as an anti-hammer that splits the wood apart. It is still a hammer, it is an axe hammer, and it normally does the opposite of what a hammer normally does.

Interestingly grammar, as well as Aristotlean Logic, make it difficult for people to make the connection between the two.

Example: You can hammer with a hammer, but you can’t axe with an axe. You have to chop with an axe, even though you can turn a single-headed axe over and use it as a sledge-hammer.

This insistence that words must be used in certain ways because “you can’t” hammer with an axe or chop with a hammer, and “you have to” say it right or you are stupid, ignorant, or…Forces people into rigid reasoning patterns that reflect the either/or approach of logic.

Humans have hands at the ends of their arms and feet at the ends of their legs. Animals have paws, or hooves, — And Grammar Gurus actually talk as though humans DO have arms and hands and feet and animals actually DO have paws or hooves, or whatever.

And they don’t.

Humans have appendages we have names for.

Animals have appendages we have names for.

The reason they are so different is not so much because of biology but because of The Human Superiority Complex. Many humans feel they are too good to have paws and animals are not worthy to have feet. What save many humans from going into severe emotional trauma over monkeys, apes, etc is their lack of opposable thumbs — “Ah,” these people say, “Humanity is saved. It is still the superior species and is grammatically entitled to hands whilst those poor beasts have to survive with mere paws.”

This is fine for those who are Grammatically, and perhaps Logically, Pure, but a Map Thinker™ must grapple with the reality that hands, feet, paws, and hooves, are all both conceptually the same at one end of the concept line and conceptually different at the other end.

While it is not conceptually valid to speak of a horse swatting at an annoying dog with its hand, it is conceptually valid to say it swatted at the dog with its foot.

While it is normally not conceptually valid to say “My son grasped his glass of milk with his hoof”, it is conceptually valid to say “My son pranced in from the backyard on all four hooves neighing at me in convincing horseness.” Once it is established the child has been horsing around it would be both conceptually valid and humorous to say “He sat at the breakfast table and grasped his glass of milk with his hoof.”

As you can easily see  Conceptually Based Grammar™ would be far different from our currently Logically Based form of Grammar. For one thing it would have to be far less prescriptive and far more fluid, that is, creative. It would also be accommodating to humor as a natural consequence of Conceptually Based Grammar™ rather than an aberration from Logically Based Grammar.

By now we all should be able to see that by discarding Logic and Logically Based Grammar and adopting Conceptually Based Reasoning™ and Conceptually Based Grammar™ which are both necessary to Map Thinking™ we can easily see that our Individual Creative Potential increases exponentially.

This is done by the simple expedient of discarding the two most standard limits to our everyday thinking.

I’m going to let this blog chapter rest here.

What I want you to do is to take a week, or at least a day, and see just how far, and in what directions you can extend the concept of “Hammer” for yourself.

Hopefully you will do a better job than I.

© 2014  all rights reserved

Non-Hammer Hammers

26 Jan

The most obvious non-hammer hammers are air hammers and electric hammers. They look nothing like hammers but they perform the function and are readily accepted as such.

So what is the point of that?

A nail gun is a hammer.

As we go down to lower level structures we can trace two paths for a hammer concept.

One is a direction we are not going to pursue.  Very far, anyway. But, lets take a whiff of it. How far it can go. And perhaps why. Or  perhaps we should explore why first.

Oh, pardon me.

This is a blog proclaiming philosophy and I’m not being logical. There is no logical progression to this section of the blog at all.

That is because I am engaging in a Metalog. A MetaBlog.  I first came across the term metalog in Gregory Bateson’s “Steps to an Ecology of Mind”. If you are not familiar with Gregory Bateson, I cannot recommend him too highly.

Discussing the parts in a way that allows them to all come together in an understandable way. This is because we are dealing with the imagination, which resides in the deeper structures of the mind rather than logic which resides totally on the surface.

This is why logic is so complex and requires so much “intelligence” to be able to follow it. Because it is so divorced from reality. It is Extreme Surface Structure™ and Extreme Low Context Structure™. Once it has reached the maximum Extreme Low Context Surface Structure™ it becomes almost totally divorced from reality.

In order to keep it grounded its practitioners most negotiate a bizarre maze of rules, mostly called “fallacies” that appear to the uninitiated as unending and unimaginably complex.

Imagination is both simpler and requires less “intelligence” because it is reality itself. In fact it only requires the amount of intelligence required to negotiate the context it is faced with.

Which means an intelligence only requires the imagination that is required for the survival of the life form it inhabits.

Thus an army of ants only needs the amount of imagination required to use leaves to cross the water which prevents their progress.  Extreme Low Context Surface Thinkers™ ask, “How can an ant be so intelligent as this?”

A question that is nearly impossible to answer.

A Full Context Deep Structure Thinker™ asks, “How could an ant imagine this?”

In other words the question becomes, “What sensory experience can an ant bring to this problem of crossing water?” When asked in this way it becomes obvious. Ants walk on leaves. They have had that experience. Leaves float on water. Not sure how an ant would / could perceive that. One guess would be an accidental event some ants have survived.

Extreme Low Context Surface Structure Thinkers™ operate on the assumption the mind is designed for the purpose of discovering and determining Truth.

A Full Context Deep Structure Thinker™ assumes that all experience is processed by the mind for the single purpose of survival. A sort of Darwinistic approach to thinking.

Extreme Low Context Surface Structure Thinkers™  lump all sensory experience besides intellect as useless and totally discount all emotions as erroneous. They quickly and easily point out all the errors one can fall into when people rely on their emotional reactions.

And this is true.

What they don’t acknowledge is that “Logical Reasoning” and “Logical Reasoning” alone causes just as many errors, if not more, than emotional reactions.

The first being that there is such a thing as “pure reason”.

The second being that “truth” is attainable through a judicious manipulation of words.

The third is that Emotions and Sensory Experience should be discounted.

What the hell does this have to do with hammers?

Because where I am going to go with the concept of hammers has no Logical equivalent. There may be someone somewhere so skilled at Logical Manipulation to arrive at it, but I cannot conceive how they would, or even why they would.

It is not what logic is designed to do.

Logic takes itself seriously.

Logic is never playful.

The closest I have ever seen to logic being playful is the nine legged cat. And its purpose was to prove that you have to follow logical principles or you would make ridiculous mistakes.

A cat has four more legs than no cat.

No cat has five legs.

Therefore a cat has nine legs.

Extreme High Context Deep Structure Thinkers™ see reasoning as a survival tool that works best when treated as a mental playground.

The next blog will take the simple household hammer to this mental playground.

© 2014, all rights reserved.

Yet More Hammers

18 Jan



We discussed claw hammers, roofing hammers, and ball pein hammers.


Each of these at some point is used to pound a nail at some point. But not all hammers are. Club hammers and sledge hammers are specifically for smashing things to bits. Rocks, bricks, etc. Although club hammers are very useful for tapping on chisels so as to carve out wood or stone.


A joiner’s mallet is considered a hammer although it is normally made of wood and is used tap wooden joints together without damaging the wood of the joints.


Then there are rubber mallets. We are all familiar with them.


Is a pattern emerging here?


At the Extreme Surface Structure™ level a hammer is a hammer. In order to have a logical discussion of a hammer you must define your particular hammer.


Linguistics, as other sciences, have been heavily influenced by Logical Thinking, and this, unfortunately, has done more to inhibit science than to advance it. As such Linguistic discussion fall into either Surface structure or Deep structure. Further being limited by logic Linguists discuss words, and words alone.


In the reality of the mind, the Extreme Surface Structure™ is a top-level where everything is distinct and separate. This, like all other features of humanity is a survival tool and not to be considered a lesser form of thought. It is just as useful as Deep Structured thought. This gives us the ability to recognize our hammer. Either it is my hammer or it is not my hammer. Either I can use it for the purpose I need it for, or I can’t.


While Linguistics divides structures into two, surface and deep, a more useful way of thinking of is of levels, more like a staircase leading downwards.


This is where we leave the world of words and enter the world of pictures and maps. Basically the connections between things. That is what a map is. It shows relationships.


So we go down a level.


At this level we recognize that all these hammers with all their different functions, made with all their different materials, are all hammers.


At this level  a hammer becomes not an object, but a concept.


Things with handles that have heads on the ends are hammers.


Once we have the concept the question becomes what can we do with it?


Lets explore that in the next blog.


© 2013 all rights reserved






Calling All Hammers

11 Jan

Some people may find this section a bit complex. In order to discuss the simple, lowly, hammer in a way that will effectively relate to Map Thinking™ we must take on several subjects. Prescriptive Grammar and how it conjoins with Aristotlean Logic to limit our thinking rather than to expand it. Hand in hand with this we must explore a concept in Transformational Grammar called “Deep Structure”. But we will explore the latter in a slightly different way than “normal”. We will do it Mapologically™. That is we will, almost automatically discuss “Surface Structure”, what it is and why it exists. Something I have not seen tackled in my readings of Transformation Grammar. A pugnacious oversight in my opinion. (Note: The term “deep structure” doesn’t seem to be in vogue right now and I used it in a slightly different way than it is used in transformational grammar. We’ll get into that later.)



Yeah, I know. A hammer is a hammer.

What is so complicated about that?


We have a thing. We call this thing a hammer. From now on that is its name: Hammer.

We have named an object. A very specific object. When people say “Hammer” they normally mean an everyday claw hammer.


There are other kinds. In order to fully understand mapping we must understand both these other kinds of hammers and this thing called “deep structure”.

But first:

We will discuss some of the various kinds of hammers.


Claw hammers, most common, used by most people. Has one flat side to hit nails with and a claw on the other side to pull out the nails we have mishammered. (Oh, and please forgive me, [the] Gods of Grammar — No such word as “mishammered” has been ordained by them to exist — Therefore it MUST NOT be used even though everyone understands its meaning immediately. My sins I do confess.)

Normal people using their naturally grown Mapping skills and Deep Structure connections they will use a normal claw hammer for a lot of “inappropriate” things. Such as perhaps to use the claw for a screwdriver, or a hoe to dig in the dirt, or the wooden handle to widen a hole in drywall, or even the edge t the top of the handle to scrape away paint.

Superior people, who have mastered the concept of “Logical Necessity” are horrified by these sacrileges against surface structure. They will tell you, in no uncertain terms, that “Hammers are hammers” and “They are not designed for those tasks.”.


But hammers are used for some pretty odd things.


Roofing hammers actually look more like hatchets than claw hammers. At least on the “Claw” end.

It is possible some genius got tired of being told they were using the claw inappropriately and invented a better claw to do the job. Or it may have happened some other way.

Doesn’t matter. Point made.


Ball Pein hammers have an entirely different use. It is normally used to beat metal into shape. Auto body repair people rely on them extensively.


Logically this makes a Ball Pein hammer one thing and a Claw Hammer another, entirely different thing.


This is in fact surface structure. Using surface structure, in the form of Logic, we can deny there is any similarity between the two at all. A proponent of surface structure, stated as logic, will tell you, “A claw hammer is a claw hammer and a ball pein hammer is a ball pein hammer. Two entirely different things. They are used in two different ways to accomplish two different functions.”

Logical necessity forces us to agree.

A more linguistically centered approach would recognize that on a deeper level of thinking we understand that both objects are in fact the same in some way. They are both hammers, as their name implies.


The innate Fallacy of Logic is its assumption that extreme Surface Structural Thinking™ is The Superior way to reason.

It is in fact inferior.

The innate Fallacy of Linguistics is its assumption that Surface Structural Thinking™ is The Natural Way to Think and that Deep Structural Thinking™ is some complex function of the inner mind that must somehow be unraveled.

It is in fact simple and natural, but it is suppressed.


The next blog will introduce you to yet more hammers, and the opportunity to expand your map.



©2014, all rights reserved






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