Wednesday, April 12, 2006

First-rung Conceptualisation Frameworks: Essence-based Things and Social/Aesthetic Interpretation

Quick, incomplete sketching...

I’m going to do an oh-so-terrible thing and speak of the human mind if it had a certain structure to it, and worse, that that structure is less than perfect. I know, I know, I am the devil, but I would rather face an imperfect reality and try to understand it so I can try and do something about it.

I think that we ‘naturally’ have certain means, or tools, for conceptualising the world. We only supplant these tools when our culture has accumulated a fairly large amount of knowledge about the world, and we have ourselves learnt a fairly large amount of that. (I'll explain the 'first-rung' terminology used in the title later on in another post).

I think the main tools, or frameworks, are the following. Seeing the world in terms of 'things', where each thing is of a certain type. Being of a certain type means that it has some set characteristics. Characteristics include intentions, functions and properties.

Characteristics apply to the thing as a whole. They don’t apply only to aspects of it, and they don’t apply only contextually to it. They are essences - they are just something that the thing has, and the only explanation of this can be because of other intentions, functions or properties of the thing. The thing can not normally have contradictory characteristics.

Intention is seen as the primary tool available for explaining why things have happened.

There are strong social and ‘aesthetic’ elements to our conceptualisation. Things and situations are interpreted in these ways. As part of the ‘aesthetic’ element, things and situations always have a property of good or bad (to some degree), reflecting our approval/dissaproval of them. The social element includes notions such as power, hierarchical position and fairnes/unfairness.

The problem is that the world can not be very well understood in these terms, but if those are the only tools we have, we will squash our view of other situation into those terms.

Of course, the hard thing is in demonstrating that these actually are the primary tools for conceptualising things, and in showing that they are not very good for conceptualising the world. But all I wanted to do in this post is sketch out some basic details.

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