Theory & Approach



Summary: Generally, the theoretical approach to a commonsense ontology based on word-sensibility begins with the hypothesis that word meaning is a simulation process of perceptual and motor systems (Bergin et al., 2012). We suggest that the environment drives cognitive processes and are well described as an ecology of dynamical systems (Chemero et al., 2009, 2016). Mental processes to derive meaning are deeply metaphoric (Lakoff, Johnson, 1980). Features of the panalogy concept represent metaphoric processes i.e., parallel analogies (Minsky, 2006). Word-Sensibility centers on inter-subjectivity or more specifically, Participatory Sense-Making (De Jaegher, Di Paolo, 2007). Word-sensibility research deals with grounding principles and the ability to unitize and frame normative information.

The Quadranym Model of Word-Sensibility (Q): An Ecological Systems Perspective On Word-Level-Concepts & Contextual Unitizations – Non-Mental-Representation Representation Design Before Define Approach.

Q: A method to analyze and cluster words – an ontological alignment system to represent dynamic word relations in units, scripts and layers.

In Other Terms and Experiences: Consider the story of Eros and Psyche, a young woman can be the human soul, a winged young man can be love. In classical theories of language, metaphor was seen as a matter of language not thought. These days, many cognitive scientists agree that the generalizations governing metaphorical expressions are not in language, but in thought. These general principles which take the form of conceptual mappings, apply not just to novel poetic or literary expressions, but to much of ordinary everyday language.

  • “The locus of metaphor is not in language at all, but in the way we conceptualize one mental domain in terms of another.” (Lakoff, 1992)

Living & Sharing: There is growing evidence that language comprehension stems from procedural knowledge (Michiel van Elk, Marc Slors, and Harold Bekkering et al., 2010). This is opposed to the classical cognitive knowledge view that focuses on the reliance of mental representations (Fodor, J. A., 1975). Procedural knowledge refers to the embodied interactions with other humans in a shared physical world. The embodied hypothesis contends that perceptual and motor systems are simulated to achieve language understandings, sometimes with grammatical assistance and sometimes without (Bergen et al., 2013). In this view, the human mind is a repurposing machine where understanding one thing in terms of another depends on the actions and contexts that one has with the world.

  • Consider the metaphorical connection between the term warmth and the term love as in a child being held closely by her parent, where, in an ordinary context warmth can be directly understood as being near a fire. Both of these understandings are necessarily interactions with the world that need no mental representations. Instead, in Q speak, each form a Dynamical Context.

Instantial Experiences: Knowing a word is one thing, but a well anchored sensibility of a word is never simply defined, it becomes well anchored through one’s experiences in the world. When a child learns a word, a child learns a way to interact with others who also experience the world.

  • One can experience a coconut in certain analogous ways while never actually being near a coconut. What do coconuts look like? What do coconuts feel like? What is the purpose of coconuts?

The anchor of one’s dynamic responsiveness toward a coconut would likely run deeper if one actually experienced a coconut. As an experience, the responsiveness of the concept can be reused in any number of ways. Still, as a point of contention among cognitive and neurological scientists, the question remains, how do we routinely understand language for which we lack the relevant experiences? Although the neurological implications of this question are beyond the scope of these posts, what we hope to account for is a methodology pertaining to ecological perspectives of this ability; specifically, how it might theoretically apply to word-level-concepts and contextual unitizations for commonsense acquisition and representation.

Ecological Systems: A dynamical system is defined by its phase space.  A phase space illustrates a system’s variability of its components as pertaining to a conservation of order in a given environment. Systems draw upon the environment and then gives back to it, thus, participating in an ecology. A conflict with the principle of the conservation of order provides for the emergence of systems. The trajectory traced through a phase space by the activity of the system is its attractor. In a phase space, some fixed points are attractive where nearby state will converge towards the fixed points. In our approach, we begin by considering how a word-sensibility model might be well described as an ecology of dynamical systems.

Ecological Analogs:  How can a word-sensibility model be conceptually described from a dynamical systems perspective? In a biomorphic sense, self-organizing systems, such as chemical clocks (e.g., BZ reaction), might serve as analogies for organic systems, such as word-sensibility, and the Darwinian goal of self-preservation. Although, there is no propagation with chemical clocks as there are with organic systems, the source of the analogy clearly illustrates the limit cycle, in which, a dynamical system is maintained far from stasis by regular oscillations. (Burrows, 1996)

Word Space: Word-sensibility constitutes a behavioral type dynamical system, and (as such), implicates an organism with a motivation that provides local manifestation of the principle of the conservation of order. This leads to a program of action for the attractor. When such a system, like word-sensibility, involves a perceiver, the perceiver works with a hypothesis about the attractor. In the word-sensibility model, meaning is the relationship between an attractor and a phase space generated by one’s motivation. Programs for the attractor consists of interactions a perceiver has with the world. Multiple word spaces may occur simultaneously for a given word. The use of energy in a word space is usually frugal and brief. In an epistemological sense, attractors generally oscillate between more experience necessary and no more experience necessary.

Oscillating With Others: In our approach, word-sensibility is a reciprocal dynamic between unattended and attended states. When one asks, “what is that?” unattended interactivity becomes attended interactivity for each interlocutor. Theoretically, this forms an orientation for an immanent exchange of experience. The initial state of a word-sensibility unit is always a coherent state, not coherent with truth conditions in the world, rather, coherent with the intrinsic sense of interactivity that one aims to extend out to the world. In this way, there is a motivation to resolve conflicts between coherent-sense and conditional-sense states. So perhaps, “what is that?” is a primary step toward that resolution. A word-sensibility is generated to provide for that resolution by helping to extend one’s self out to others in the world. Theoretically, word-sensibility units dynamically oscillate within one’s self and with others out in the world as a potential sense of unity. A sense of division begins the process again. This is dynamical contextuality interacting with situational contextuality. We’re motivated to understand, to come to agreement or resonance with the words of others – out of a desire to belong and manage along with others.

Select Best Fit: In machine learning, commonsense reasoning is concerned with the things that humans normally know about the world. It also involves concerns about how humans come to assume things about the world. In the case of the latter, we might find that commonsense is not always reasonable (Kahneman, 2011). Perhaps, how we all come to know and judge things defaults more to the paradigms we form over our ability to rigorously reason. A paradigm can be thought of as the set of concepts, and relationships among concepts, through which one understands the world. In all societies, humans naturally form paradigms to help interpret and at times to actually perceive the world. At times, rational humans will believe things that aren’t true because of their paradigmatic views. This is not unusual as the human mind will sometimes see what it expects to see in accordance with a known paradigm (Kuhn, 1962).

Paradigmatic Triggers: A method of machine learning called clustering is where the details pertaining to situations are collected together. What pulls the trigger behind the identification of a situation? To be frugal with time and energy the mind will draw quick conclusions in the context of a paradigm. For instance, people familiar with playing cards will know that the queen of hearts is red and the queen of spades is black. If one is shown a black queen of hearts one might mistakenly conclude that it is the queen of spades because the shape fits best with the color paradigm of playing cards. When drawing conclusions there are a number of fallacies to be aware of. Still, as we go about our lives the mind will assume unattended content is somehow accounted for and a current paradigm is a reliable context to achieve understanding. This is more than just induction type fallacies that should be avoided, on some levels they can’t be because it is a normal cognitive process. The process is as much about solution as it is error.

  • When acquiring commonsense “micro paradigmatic changes” occur at unattended levels as we organismically experience the world and quietly learn what works and what doesn’t.

Orientations: More deeply, in our view, paradigmatic behaviors pertain to a kind of “rationalization” and not a simple fallacy and, although this may appear to be another problem to simply avoid, we suggest that it can’t be. On some level, this too is an intrinsic and fundamental factor in the way human information is processed. The process describes a sensibility and not an ability to reason. Essentially, this behavior of sensibility isn’t really a choice, but rather, a dynamic that underlies the ability to choose. A choice is not between objects of perception but between the sensibility of them. In our view, “rational rationalization” (coherent with societal norms) is a matter of amplification, like Goldilocks invading the home of the three bears, what seems just right consists of a noise-to-signal ratio requiring apt adjustments. In this view, strategic adjustments to the paradigmatic noise floor underlies how we think and communicate as a society.

  • We aim to illustrate that although truth conditions ultimately provide our sense of conclusion, the impetus towards a meaning is neither true nor false. It is a zero-point of reference, a resonance embedded in the condition of our being not as a judgement but as a organismic orienting process. Where being rational is about how one can arrive at a conclusion, sensibility is about how an impulse is affirmed so one can begin the process.

Bayesian Intuition: In probability theory, Bayes’ theorem describes the probability of an event, based on prior knowledge of conditions that might be related to the event, and may have different probability interpretations. A degree of belief is expressed as a probability and will rationally change to account for new evidence. Bayes’ theorem is an interpretive method that utilizes statistical knowledge and provides a kind of logical thinking, and as some have suggested might describe various levels of mental processing used for sense making (Clark 2015). In Q speak, Baysian processing is associated more with the conditional-sense then with the coherent-sense. As already stated, the interaction between coherent-sense states and conditional-sense states are dynamical and, we add, are also reciprocal. In the word-sensibility model, we might think of sensibility as a fundamental responsiveness that intuition blends with reason. Coherent-sense seeks to transcend the immanent to resolve conditional-sense issues. In this process, rational relationships with the world require a deliberative secondary kind of process. However, before any deliberative approach can be applied, criteria forming unconditional episodic units of sensibility need to be established. Humans are actually not very good at Bayesian processing. Consider something more basic to begin the work, something better described as a sensibility and not as a rationality. Even though intuition is a vague process it is still on some level a semi-rational process. Sensibility is not rational. In our view, unconditional units are normally a consequence of heuristic processing, thus, to modify unconditional units requires going beyond heuristic processes and this implicates a logical restructuring provided by various deliberative debugging methods.

  • Hypotheses prepare our perception as we perceive what we expect to perceive before adjustments are made to fit with the real world (Clark, 2015; Minsky, 1988). In the Q approach, synergistic layers initiate the process.

Confluential Thinking: Our aim is to introduce a shorthand representation that implicates the general sense that emerges when something feels sensibly complete, for instance, when a word is chosen to complete a thought as a responsive dynamic to a conditional situation.

In our model, the process is in two parts…

  1. A compulsive dynamic between attended and unattended senses forming paradigmatic responses to conditions in a way that implicates motivation.
  2. A skillful constraint to satisfy a given condition driven by organismic responses to the environment by prior experiential sense responses. 

Panalogy: To help model a system of discrete paradigmatic solutions, The word-sensibility model utilizes some of the ideas of the panalogy concept (Minsky, 2006). The panalogy (parallel analogy) is a useful way to think about metaphorical systems. In our approach, thinking in different ways requires discrete dynamic relationships between generic roles and specific realms. This is also generally illustrated in the panalogy approach. For instance, consider the thought, give: handing-something-over is a dynamic of the physical realm, ingratiating with a gift is a dynamic of the social realm, making transactions is a dynamic of the professional realm, giving ownership is a dynamic of the dominion realm. All of these realms share similar generic roles, such as, origin, destination, actor, method and object. Realms modify the generic roles. One can switch between realms, each represents a way of thinking. Consider the dominion realm, Stan will give Jan ownership of the house if Jan agrees to buy. The object is real estate property, the method is a transferring contract, the actors are negotiators, the origin is Stan the owner, the destination is Jan the buyer. If give pertains to a birthday gift then the realm switches to a social context. The production and use of discrete local realms asserting different ways of thinking by modifying global roles, we suggest, is a routine occurrence in the mind. This can be described in the process of word sensibility; any word can act as a specific realm or as a generic role. Each global role represents a facet of a word, each local realm is a dynamical context to address those facets. Consider for example the realms and roles Below. Each realm has four facets or dimensions, each dimension holds a role to a general pervading sense connecting realms.

Quadranym Realms & Roles

Next post, we discuss the inter-subjectivity concepts of the theory.

Next post: The Principle of the Orientation Of Interactivity

Sensibility is not reliable It’s Only Essential