[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [xmca] concepts

On 19 April 2011 02:01, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> 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.

The mental/physical distinction looks like a dead-end to me beyond the
sphere of social discourse, though I understand your gist here to be about
coherence.  Yes, I'd only offer mild surprise that you'd willingly employ an
incoherent theory.  The distinction between the "-graphy" aspects of science
and the "-ology" may be apt.

> 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.

Yes.  Most definately.  Although these fuzzy boundaries exist (or are far
greater in proliferation) when the subject/organism/host of the epistemology
entailing the concepts is considered as an open system rather than a closed
system.  I agree about the semiotic aspects, although I fear if it is
insisted that this aspect part of the definition of a concept (rather than
part of it's generation), you will create more confusion and disagreement in
your wake, especially in the positivist camp.

The only other pithy point I have to make about the commonalities &
differences view of concepts right now is that you can cover a lot of ground
with a few mirrors.  The uniqueness and variety of our minds and behaviour
is also a function of the uniqueness and variety in the world, sometimes
this variety and fuzziness may simply be a reflection of it, not something
intrinsic to our own epistemology.


> Andy
> 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.
>> Huw
>> __________________________________________
>> _____
>> xmca mailing list
>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
> __________________________________________
> _____
> xmca mailing list
> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
xmca mailing list