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Re: [xmca] concepts
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- Subject: Re: [xmca] concepts
- From: Andy Blunden <email@example.com>
- Date: Tue, 19 Apr 2011 11:01:24 +1000
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Huw, I think any scientific theory should aspire to be philosophically
rigorous. Philosophial rigour though is not something that depends on
results as "scientific" rigour does. For example, is we use the concept
of "activity" in our scientific work as a relation between the mental
and the physical for example, then we need to be aware that this
introduces a dichotomy which is ultimately unsustainable. On the other
hand, it is almost impossible to talk about, let alone explain, Activity
without referring to "states of mind" and so on. This is the difficult
distinction between communicative action and concepts.
On concepts: It is true that a concept **can** be conceived of within a
matrix of similarity and differences, but I think that is a view which
really misses what a concept is and fails to capture the full breadth of
meaning of the word. It has the effect of replacing the study of a
concept with the study of "features" ultimately leading to an arbitrary
decision on what counts as an "irreducible" "chunk" or "feature". I
think there is a difference between problems of recognition or
categorisation, on one hand, and conceptulisation on the other. Concepts
actually always have fuzzy boundaries, and focus on boundary problems
often misses the essence.
Huw Lloyd wrote:
Distinguishing a scientific theory from a philosophical one, we can, I
believe, state that the sum of the within-paradigm conceptions combined with
the means of measuring (creating) phenomena provide the working definition
of the conception of the subject. This conception is still, in theory,
comparable to other conceptions of the phenomena (e.g. a cognitive model
compared with a cybernetic model), this seems to introduce a certain
relativity to the term 'fundamental concept', so I'm not sure I agree with
"I can't define it in terms of anything else", as opposed to "It would take
me a long time to define it".
Part of the interest here is in the semantics of the term 'concept'. To
conceptualize something implies that you can conceptualize something else or
something similar, implying that all concepts (or conceptions) can be
conceived of as residing within a matrix of commonalities and variabilities
(which was my starting point).
I think that for science, it is important to know what the concept of the subject matter is, even if we can communicate adequately without that understanding.
That seems perfectly reasonable and necessary.
For me, another slightly confusing aspect of the term 'fundamental concept'
in the context of philosophy is that it suggests Idealism which may, or may
not, be your cup of tea.
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