Summary: Before we introduce our Theory & Approach for a Word-Sensibility Model, let’s first briefly consider the overarching question. What is commonsense? At first glance the answer is obvious: everyone has commonsense, and to acquire it no one has to formally learn it, it just happens. Unlike, for instance, math or grammar, their are no formalities associated with commonsense. Still, commonsense by all accounts is a central topic in cognitive science, computational linguistics and machine learning. There are many ways to approach the questions of commonsense because there are virtually any number of issues spanning a wide variety of disciplines. Commonsense is a convenient term used to sum up the many profound complexities that form the knowledge around our common experiences. To begin our particular approach to the question, let’s first consider at least two different ways to generally approach the issues.
The Word Experience
Commonsense: On one hand, commonsense is the knowledge we all share. On the other hand, commonsense is our senses common to everyone. We suggest that the differences in these approaches are significant. It is the difference between focusing on the things we can all potentially know versus how we can all actually come to know things. Is there anything that we all know that can also tell us something about how we all might come to know it? In a word, we think, yes, and we think it quite literally; a word can be both, what is known and a way to know it. Consider that we come to know food because we’re hungry, space because we’re transit, affection because of loved ones and so on. Commonsense knowing involves these kinds of relational understandings, but it is obvious that without the human ability to achieve word-level concepts human experiences could not be understandings that are routinely reflected upon and shared. For us, the question and scope of commonsense centers on the question of words.
- What is the word experience itself?
Scope: Our experiences naturally inform us all about the world we share. This is the intuitive understanding of commonsense. However, from the perspective of our ability to share our personal experiences, without the word as a generic construct, no singular mechanism can be specified; a mechanism that causes the knowing of the mechanism that is itself the content. We suggest that the mind itself is not the mechanism in question as one can also conclude that the mind is not its content (Hutto, Myin, 2013). Words are the fundamental elements of language, and with this we will aim to present a model where words are the principal dynamic of social meaning and as such, are virtually fundamental units of human experience.
- Our approach is to make the word the content mechanism. As it pertains to commonsense representation, focusing solely on commonsense content without identifying the word as the content mechanism to focus on will either lead to all the interdisciplinary challenges of mind mapping or will result in an infinite regress of what knowing causes what knowing.
Focus: In this post, we consider how coping and rationalization can be viewed as intrinsic behaviors of commonsense and word-sensibility. Moreover, because a concept’s truth conditions are only ever potentials as word-sensibility, it would seem to lack an epistemology. In quadranym word-sensibility theory (Q), the dynamic relationships between what is sensibility and what is rationality are the only means through which truth conditions can be satisfied and proof can have meaning. This is described in the virtual dynamic relationship between the quadranym word-unit and its objective field, a relationship based on procedures of system maintenance.
- The Q model pertains to word-sensibility, and word-sensibility in our terms refers to a responsiveness towards intersubjective relations that inform instantial experiences of some typical sense making intention or motivation. Instantial experiences associated with word-sensibility will reassign between attended and unattended levels of cognition to optimize procedural tasks.
Our goal in these posts is to bring more clarity to the description just given by providing in more detail, what we mean by word-sensibility, instantial experiences, the word mechanism and the architecture on which it all pivots. These articles present an informal description of these components.
Show Your Emotions
Sensibility: The term sensibility has been in some ways synonymous with what is both intriguing and misunderstood about human behavior. The term was initially understood as human knowing through the senses and their response to the environment. According to some philosophers and historians, the age of reason around the middle of the 18th century was really the age of sensibility.* Also at this time, a new scientific culture was emerging. According to some philosophers and historians a paradigm shift occurred where a mechanistic view of the world was replaced by a more organic view of the world.* A major point of contention with the concept of sensibility at the time was its over reliance on sense experience. Sensibility was initially an empirical view that flew in the face of the views held by rationalists of the time. Because popular view points of sensibility took many unfounded turns and because rationalists were resistant to the empirical viewpoints of sensibility, the empirical focus belonging to the issues and discourse of sensibility got muddled. Consider misconceptions of sensibility, such as linking it to vitalism as well as arriving at bad conclusions involving gender differences. It became a social expectation, where the sensitivities associated with sensibility would overwhelm a “lady’s well bred femininity”. The mere thought of impropriety should cause a “lady” to simply pass out. Although such fainting displays became a cultural expectation, frequent fainting of the 19th century is said to be assisted by tight corsets and overheating in heavy clothing. Sensibility came to represent extreme sensitivity. Moreover, the concept became entwined with morality as to be thoroughly confused and problematic as a means of understanding anything. It seems as though the excitement over the implications generated by the term simply got out of hand. However, although sensibility was a volatile notion, reason and sensibility were for a moment on equal footing. Overtime that became less so, as methods based on reason alone seemed more sound. Reason flourished as the central discourse of philosophical pursuit. Sensibility became a concept used mostly to express sentimentalism, literature and the arts *(Lloyd, 2013).
Let’s be Rational
The Sensibility of Reason: Logic is a form of reasoning used to reach a conclusion using the most accurate facts available. This is not how commonsense necessarily functions as it can manifest on social assumptions and no facts. Commonsense reasoning does not always strictly adhere to logic as it sometimes aims to make points using rhetoric to form arguments. Generally, when assessing semantic information, objects in the world provide the truth conditions for a situation. When certain truth conditions aren’t available they are replaced by assumptions. Our experiences form our paradigmatic views used to provide our assumptions with rationality. Here is the area we wish to focus. What does rationality mean in this context? How can it be achieved and what provides a system with the conclusion that a response to a proposition is rational?
Monistic Units: Because sensibility has no formality like reason has with logic, the jumping off point on the subject of word-sensibility is a particular kind of problem. In linguistics, there are a wide variety of semantic approaches that exist for dealing with aspects of human sensibility, such as, how languages might encode relations between aspects of the world to convey, process, and assign meaning. Our premise is that situational contexts (i.e., truth conditions about the world) are initiated by responsive units free of conditional judgments but essential to assigning meaning.
We Can Manage This
Coping: Indeed humans are certainly not always rational. We speculate that rationalization behaviors are at least as normal as rational behaviors. As a fundamental element in our description of word-sensibility, we submit that the basic need to cope in society requires rationalization behaviors.
- We suggest that coping is quietly persistent in the human intentionality experience. Seeing what one expects to see, we believe, is a natural condition of coping and suggests that coping, in a phenomenological sense, will first categorically seek cues of function (coherent bias) and then potential structure follows (conditional world).
In this view, rationalization, is an action to conform to reason without a true object. In our assessment, this is precisely what a word is capable of doing. You can say that a picture of an apple is an apple. But if you wish to be fully rational, it is not an apple. It’s really about interactions and goals as our interactions with pictures can be quite different from our interactions with apples. It’s the same for words, the truth of a word depends on our interactions and goals. Conventionally, assessing semantic information involves the notion of true objects. For instance, how do we know the difference between an apple and an orange? The attributes that fulfill each object’s truth conditions makes the identification true. Accepting the conditions when sufficient evidence is presented is being rational. In our view, rational is a moving target and to hit the mark requires another more basic and fluid layer of process used to engage our interactions and goals.
In our view, rationalization as a sensibility is not concerned with the objective conditions, rather, it is concerned with keeping what we will call a coherent bias. We will generally introduce the idea now and gradually address it in more specific terms in this and following posts. The coherent bias can be associated with a sense of self identity or a sense of control even if that means denying a true condition. If one doesn’t like the taste of oranges an aspect of one’s assessment might wholeheartedly reject an orange as food even though there is an awareness of its proven nutritional value, if not for one for many others. This is rationalizing. Rationalizing as a strategy is to keep one’s standpoints rewarded by allowing a judgment to be made easily and quickly. Promoting cultural standpoints is rewarded by creating a like minded community to cope and share common objectives. Also, from a social perspective it helps to achieve a self identity or a social identity. The paradigmatic standpoint of coping in this sense is as an aesthetic distinction between ones coherent sense and the world. Where rational is about how effectively goals are accomplished, rationalization is how effectively the unitization of a coherent bias is maintained. In our view, coping as a normal and primary dynamic of paradigmatic rationalization—seeks to be rational by selectively extending coherent structure out into the world. In short, word-sensibility is not about different ways of reasoning but about different ways of coping. Here, coping reflects the social-dependent nature of the human species, a dependence that language represents; we require cultural definition of expectations. Defining expectations helps to lower anxiety levels and provide a mutual area of focus and anticipation. We call this the orientation of interactivity. We will revisit this in a later post; The Principle of the Orientation of Interactivity.
Sometimes It’s a Bit Crazy
Rationalizing Modules: Rationalizing is an attempt to explain events in a reasonable way even when there is no truth in the explanation. In psychology rationalization is generally a defensive strategy to conceal or reject the truth in an attempt to justify or excuse questionable behavior. For the purpose of illustrating sense-making dynamics in accord with our model, imagine a rationalizing kind of module that seeks to attach to various objective conditions. Once attached it assumes a rational behavior; if not attached it defaults to its rationalizing behavior. Rationalizing modules virtually seek to interface with real conditions to assimilate a pervasive and overwhelmingly vast objective field (i.e., the laws of systems) into its dynamical contextuality. The reward and benefit is that once attached to viable conditions, the modules naturally function to increase the tractability of the objective field. A society benefits as individuals attain like mindedness and a sense of common objectives. The process is effective but problematic. Necessary in this process are debugging methods to be sure objectiveness is accounted for. In this way, reason becomes an extension of coping and is divided among many different strategic points so that no one point has to endure too much stress. There are compelling motivations to preserve both, the coherent bias and the attainment-ability of objectivity. The aim is to increase the tractability of a knowledge base through the consequence of the modules rationalizing function.
- The primary module is by default a rationalizing system when acting without objective conditions. When coupled to conditions, the module’s function is to simultaneously preserve objective perspectives and a self identity. It is generally healthy when the coupling is highly predictive to the potential conditions of its environment. This coupling preserves a coherent bias.
Coherent Bias: Some might object to the use of the term rationalization here. It is used in a particular way to describe the dynamic tension between perception and repurposing perception. Moreover, rationalization as we mean it, is also a generic reference to cognitive bias. That is, how the mind errors on its conclusions based on organismic motivations and tendencies. For instance, consider our evolved cognitivity prone to conspiracy theories as might be explained by adaptation conspiracism hypothesis and illusory pattern perception. To be clear, we are not trying to explain these kinds of behaviors. Our approach to word-sensibility requires a clear but general model of tendency and constraint. In this scope, rationalization also applies to the process that we refer to as confluential thinking; a normal process of obtaining general spheres of understanding requiring decoupling from the environment. Here, rationalization is described in terms of temporal units; urge and resolve cycles reformed through social networks.
- Environmental dynamics decoupled from situations virtually form the coherent bias. The coherent bias is about sense making processes by which dynamic sensibilities become meaningful cognitive resources based on the inter-personal sense of intra-personal agency. For instance, “up” is a personal dynamic that signals the social understanding, when vertical one is healthy.
Like all cognitivity, the coherent bias will process in a way that is frugal with time and energy. This produces the heuristic nature of the coherent bias. Word-sensibility depends on this heuristic nature. By heuristics, we mean the word-sensibility of words acting as a ready unexamined short-hand for some experience or referential idea. Word-sensibility taps the proclivity of coherent bias dynamics. Coherent bias modules are virtually biased toward a local set of condition potentials. Biases compete with one another to offer their interpretation of a situation within the heuristics of the system. At times, it can become like a battle zone of thought. Persistent conflicts and global rationalization is avoided because of the redundancy of biases in a system. It is not about finding the truth conditions, it is about responding with the right bias with the best condition potentials for the situation.
It is important to note that coherent bias systems depend on a redundancy of separate units and circuits. This assures that problem solving avenues are open and getting stuck on a single problem can be avoided.
- Coherent bias dynamics change a system.
- Coherent bias conditions entail other biases.
- Coherent biases are a multitude of perspectives.
- Coherent biases are driven by the environment.
- Coherent bias dynamics are changed by the system.
- Coherent biases form synergies with certain objectives.
In general, we mean the term sensibility as, “a responsiveness toward something”. What we mean specifically for our model, is a responsiveness toward a word-topic, by which, a unitization of other separate word-topics is cued, in which the unit effect is a capacitance to aptly elect the probable objective field relations (i.e., rules and definitions) for the naive standpoint (i.e., a resonance with something) of that word-topic. The process involves an expedient form of dynamic measure between subjective and objective ontologies that we call, the measure of experience necessary. It is based on the amount of confidence given to a coherent bias to address a situation.
Next: Theory Overview