Tag Archives: Thought

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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Why Would YOU Think Like Aristotle?

26 Oct

So why would anyone, you, I, or the person down the street, the big shot in the office, the bag person pushing a shopping cart  — Why would they, or anyone else, think like, or want to think like Aristotle?

The reason is simple: Because we are human.

Aristotle no doubt believed he came up with a higher form of reasoning. His followers, even to this day, tend to believe that Aristotlean Logic is a higher form of reasoning, largely due to the complex nature of its exceptions.  Fallacies, they are called.

So what is a Fallacy?

Its simplest definition is an error in reasoning: On the surface the argument looks as though it is reasonable and logical, but when compared to empirical data the answer simply does not fit.

The easiest fallacy to uncover results from not closely defining the terms being used. Often these are accidental. If you don’t realize that bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeast, and protozoa, are all called germs: If you don’t realize that some of these are good for you, then you are prone to making fallacies about them yourself or to accepting fallacies about them from others.

This is where questions come in. Even when you know that germs are a category, not things themselves, and even when you know that some are good for you and some are bad for you and some are indifferent — it does not hurt to ask yourself, or the person you are talking too, “Exactly what do we mean by that?”

Why Logic is so difficult to master is because there are so many potential fallacies that have been identified. The lowest number of known fallacies I have ever heard is ninety-nine.  The largest number is over a thousand.

In order to be a logician you need to not only recognize a fallacy, you need to be able to implement it; that is find it and correct it.

The reason why there are so many exceptions in Logic; the reason why there are so many fallacies is not because Logic is complex, but because it is simplistic. It way over simplifies so that our minds, which are incapable of handling the full extent of reality, can deal with, manipulate, and understand reality.

Once we understand that Logic is simplified reasoning, one that is not in any way connected too, or representative of reality, then we can use it to good effect. We take a tiny piece of our insanely complex universe, make it bite size so our brain can deal with it, and then discuss it as though it were real. We can refine our definition to the point where it can be understood and manipulated. We can discuss specific bacteria strains, or domestic cats, without constantly worrying that this small segment of reality is not representative of all reality, even though we are aware of the fact.

Once that is done we can use Logic.

Basically Logic is a system of drawing lines around the various parts of the universe and declaring “This is This and That is That”.

It is important to realize that neither This nor That really exist in and of themselves.

A dog is NOT a dog. There is a self animated fur-bearing thing out there in reality that we call a dog. Dogs share DNA with cats and humans. When we talk about dogs we often do not even realize we are discussing domestic dogs and much of what we say does not apply to their wild cousins. So we can discuss German Shepherds or Border Collies as opposed to Tea Cup Poodles or Chihuahuas.

I am aware I am beating a point in the head here, but it needs to be absorbed.

When we are using Logic we are not talking about “Things” we are talking about our definitions of “Things”. The things themselves do not exist independently or out of context with any of the other things the universe is composed of. The fact things can be treated as though they are separate entities allows humans the ability “Think” about them: To manipulate ideas about them: To, as far as humanly possible, understand them.

We never really know, no can we ever know, exactly what we are talking about. But we can arrange our definitions is such a way that we can discuss them as though we did know.

The problems of reasoning happen when we forget that Logic, Things, or Events, and our understanding of them, are all artificial constructs that allow us as humans to function within a universe we cannot fully comprehend.

© 2013 All Rights Reserved.

The Law of the Included Middle

11 Aug

Aristotle is NOT an idiot!

The Law of the Excluded Middle impeded science for hundreds of years and still impedes science.

Even those studies that are not normally thought of as science.

Such as economics.

As I pointed out in the law of contradiction, although not directly, everything is connected. All anything is is a different batch of a set of common ingredients to produce a recipe of creation.

Most of the interesting things happen in the middle.

First lets look at Aristotle:

Either (A or Not A)

A thing either exists or does not exist.

Every statement is ether true or false.

Logically this may be true.

Mapologically nothing exists quite as it is perceived and nothing exists until it is perceived. Until then it is simply potential.

Thus Neither (A nor Not A)

Truth is transitory and even that is worthless unless it has use. To be useful it must be grounded.

Example:

The Big Dipper is a constellation in the sky.

This is true.

But to be of any value two things must happen.

The person must know that the Big Dipper indicates north.

The Big Dipper must be visible.

Both conditions above must exist when you need them.

Perhaps when you are lost.

One of the difficulties many people have with my system of thought is that a lie can be seen as more useful, and therefore more desirable, than the truth.

Example:

A desperate killer is headed toward a theater. If he gets there and people are present he would have hostages. If you walk out on stage and explain the situation, answer questions, etc. He will be there.

On the other hand telling everyone there is a fire and to get away might be a superior alternative.

Lets take a look at the middle.

Let me give you a quick lesson in economics. It is applicable in many, perhaps most, situations. If you are making decisions it works. If you are trying to get your kids, or your employees to do a good job, it works. If you are trying to understand political issues it works.

Picture a teeter totter.

Got that?

Somewhere in the middle is the balance point where rewards and punishments exactly balance. If it is taking out the garbage there is a specific point where the bother of taking it out exactly balances the reward of having somewhere to put the garbage.

Okay, so your teenager is the one who is assigned the bother of taking out the kitchen garbage.

But the teenager never suffers the inconvenience of not having anyplace to put the potato peelings while cooking dinner. It is quite possible the teenager cannot even fathom the necessity of taking out the kitchen garbage.

This becomes a useful map of the family dynamics.

The solution is to either make the chores more pertinent to what the teenager is doing, or alter what the teenager is doing to make the chores more pertinent.

Perhaps the teenager should be the one peeling the potatoes.

Most people think economics has to do with the stock market.

Economics is simple. It is the science of the carrot and the stick. When the reward for doing something is worth the time and resources required to do it you have equilibrium. The reward may not be money. It might be self-respect. The resources might not be time or money. It could be self respect. When the teeter totter tips one way or the other then more people will either respond by avoiding the cost or by obtaining the reward. The further the tip the more people will respond to it.

Economics resides in the middle.

Without the included middle economics cannot be explored in any way, manner, shape, or form.

This is true of science and knowledge in general.

Aristotelean logic leads to dead ends, prison cells of the mind, and locks the thinker in them in the name of truth. Once there creativity stops, exploration stops, and real thinking stops.

Once a person who has found the one real truth they become a “believer” in that truth. There is no reason to look further. In fact looking further can seem blasphemous — Even though religion is not involved.

Aristotle is a case in point. A lot of philosophers have disagreed with Aristotle. Yet when I was in school the teachers idolized Aristotle. When I said I preferred Socrates I felt as though I were dealing with Sunday School talking God rather than a Parochial School talking philosophy. The difference being that Aristotle was the Holy One and Socrates the Questioner was a Satanic force.

When I said “Socrates died for my Questions” I was told that I was too young to discuss philosophy. There would be plenty of time for that when I went to college.

Like that was ever going to happen.

But wait a minute. Lets take a closer look at Aristotle himself.

When Aristotle wrote about the Virtues what did he espouse?

Balance and Moderation.

In other words when Aristotle tackled a real subject he did what any sensible person would do: He went right to the middle: He did not exclude it.

I wish I had known this when I was still in school. It would have changed my disagreements with teachers considerably. The outcome I do not know. But I am curious. After I left school I was able to find in libraries and read things about Aristotle that was not available in school.

All I found as a child was the Three Laws of Thought and the Syllogism.

At the time I had serious problems with them but had no argument against them except Socrates. The teachers were no help because their interests lay in “either – or” thinking by the students. Either you are a good student or a bad student. I was a bad student, therefore I needed to shape up or be punished.

I rejected the concept that I was a “bad” student.

Which meant they had to be bad teachers.

Nowadays, as a Map Thinker™ I would realize, at least intellectually, that the scholastic situation is such that it promotes conformity over education.

Somewhere after the sixth grade I wrote my first treatise on Philosophy. It was called Quizology and I wish I still had a copy. It was a study of questions. Most, if not all, of Quizology is embodied in Map Thinking™. I did not take care of it because I accepted the premise one of my teachers gave me, “No one will ever care what an ignorant Halfbreed has to say.”

The sad conclusion is that most people who claim to be logical use the most simplistic “Either – Or” tools available to them and ignore, or are unable to comprehend, the complexity of truly logical thought.

Oddly there is a definite parallel here with a certain type of Biblically ignorant person who claims to be a Christian but has no concept of what Christ said or did according to the new testament.

There is a rule here, I believe. Any belief system will attract a significant number of people who use the most simplified version of it and ignore the intricacies.

So far I have not tackled one thing; How does one find the middle?

That, it turns out is the easy part. You use Aristotle’s laws of thought. The simplest either / or mentality.

Without realizing what she was doing, my mother taught me Map Thinking™ when I was a small child. When someone would ask me, “Are you a good boy?” The pressure on the child is to say, “Yes.” Because either you are a good boy or you are a bad boy.

Most parents either let the child answer and beam with pride as the poor child is programmed, not so much to “goodness” — but programmed into this simplistic model of Aristotelean logic. Either / or. If the child hesitates the parent will often answer for them, “He is a very good boy (girl)”. Never thinking they are modeling not just the child’s behavior, which it probably doesn’t, but they are modeling the child’s methodology of thinking.

Not my mother.

“Tell him you are just a little boy, honey.” Which I would dutifully repeat.

What did I take away?

Somehow in my psyche was ingrained. I wasn’t good. I wasn’t bad. There is no either / or. I was just another little boy doing little boy things in little boy ways.

I still remember the odd looks on the faces of the adults who could not understand what had happened to a simple, culturally acceptable question that was normally asked of little children.

Scientists have studied some of the ways we humans reach false conclusions. Pretty much they have reached the conclusion our minds are wired in ways that produce certain fallacies of thought. What the scientists studying this phenomena don’t seem to have taken into consideration is that children are culturally and scholastically indoctrinated in these ways of thought.

And it doesn’t have to be that way.

So let us look at the Law of the Excluded Middle from a Map Thinker’s™ Point of View.

Either (A or not A)

Becomes:

A+ <- An ->A

Where A+ is one extreme. 

Where A- is the other extreme.

and An is all possible degrees in between.

 

© 2013, All Rights Reserved

Quick Review # 2

11 May

Review: Two.

When you, as a person in a discussion, realize PoPo™ has hit the point where you have met the Wittgenstein Wall™ then you have the best, the simplest, the most useful remedy at your disposal.

QaQa™.

Question and Question again™.

This is what will bring the conversation back under control. It will either clarify the terms, words, concepts, etc to the point where they can be spoken about in useful ways that have meanings or they will show the conversation to be worthless and not worth engaging in.

So the question becomes, “What questions do we ask?”

The first question should be obvious, but because of our conditioning is not.

For example an ad reading, “You too can be a success.”

Or, lets take a shirt a young girl taking a college course in management once wore to work. “You too can be a leader.”

An experienced Map Thinker™ will automatically notice the presuppositions in the statement. With a little practice this takes no thought. It just happens.

You too can be a leader.

It assumes you are not a leader.

It assumes you want to be a leader.

It assumes being a leader is somehow a good thing.

It assumes the person or company can teach you.

Once you see the presuppositions you can question any of them or all of them.

But the real question is, “Why bother?

Should you spend any time thinking about something simply because you hear it or read it?

Closely related to this is the traditional “Cui Bono”.

Who benefits?

What is your benefit?

You have so much time on earth. The time you spend thinking about becoming, or not becoming, a leader could be spent doing something else. Something that will reward your time either in amusement, learning, or something else.

You may enjoy thinking about this particular dumb slogan, (I found it enjoyable). Then do so. It may be that examining that slogan might produce insights into your own character or that of others. I did.

There is really only one reason for doing anything.

You receive a reward for the resources you put into it.

The reward can be immediate. My immediate reward for writing this blog is that I enjoy putting my ideas on paper and I believe someone somewhere will find reading these blogs rewarding.

The reward can be so distant, such as membership in Heaven, or The Elysian Fields, etc that you have to die to find out if you even receive it.

Most of us settle for in between rewards. I go to work five days a week so I can do what I enjoy during the evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Students are asked to go to school whether they like it or not, whether they are suited to it or not, whether they care about what they are learning or not, whether what they are learning will benefit them in the future or not — with the vague hope they will get a better job than the person sitting next to them. If they would prefer to be happy, healthy, or wise, or even wealthy, — No offer is given them. Only that if they succeed in school they will, on average, receive more money during their lifetime than those who do not.

Is it any wonder most boys would rather play football where they can receive immediate rewards and instant respect?

So the first question should be obvious:

Why bother with the question?

It should be asked more often.

So what questions should we take our time and resources to ask?

If, like me, you enjoy exploring certain questions then that is the answer.

If you are not going to enjoy exploring the question for the sake of doing so, then we have to determine what reward we expect to get from doing so. This is very much like going to work during the week so you can go fishing, or watching football on a big screen TV on weekends.

If you were to study logic then you would be encouraged to be logical and rational at all times. Whether the issue was important or not.

Mapology™ would encourage you to be rational only when the reward for doing so is worth the time and effort you are going to spend decoding the situation. Usually this entails an expenditure of resources versus rewards for doing so.

Making choices that need to be made, reaching agreements that need to be mutually adhered too, that allocate resources towards a goal are the only reasons to apply the time and effort to solve a problem that you do not enjoy solving for the mental challenge. Using this scale which movie you want to see may be more reasonable to devote thinking too than whether war should be waged over a specific issue.

Your choice in movies involves two hours of your time to be spent, and the two hours of time you already spent on your job earning the money to pay to get into the movies. A total investment of four hours of your life. You want to see a movie you are really going to enjoy.

Your choice in whether your country should go to war will not be counted. Your share of the amount of its cost will be taken from your paycheck without your consent. Its impact upon you cannot possibly be determined ahead of time.

On the other hand voicing your opinion does have value. Every time you voice your opinion exposes someone else to it. That exposure may encourage the other person to modify their opinion, change their opinion, or agree with you. The next person they speak too may be effected by the effect you had on the first person. Slowly the world may come a little closer to agreeing with you.

When that happens change will happen.

On the other hand asking questions can be fun.

I do.

I asked the girl wearing the shirt questions.

“Why would I want to be a leader?”

She believes everyone wants to be a leader and anyone who claims otherwise is crying sour grapes because they don’t want to admit they are failures. However she knew that if they faced up to their true desires they too could learn to become leaders no matter how old they were or how often they had failed in the past.

Her college courses had brainwashed the poor girl as thoroughly as any off beat religious cult would brainwash its coverts.

This is one reason to get into the habit of asking questions and never accepting anyone else’s answers. The more easily a person accepts the conclusions of another the more easily they are under the influence of anyone they perceive of as having authority.

The less easily a person accepts the conclusions of another the more apt they are to think for themselves.

Map Thinking ™ is the tool of choice for those who wish to think for themselves.

QaQa™ is the tool of choice for those who wish to maximize their ability to think for themselves.

 

 

© 2013 All Rights Reserved

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