Thoughts that occurred while reading.
Dan McLaughlin September 2014
"A map is not the territory."
Quote: If we start ... with "a statement that 'a word is not the object spoken about', and some one tries to deny that, he would have to produce an actual physical object which would be the word, --impossible of performance, even in asylums for the 'mentally' ill."
Quote: "Any map or language, to be of maximum usefulness, should, in structure, be similar to the structure of the empirical world. Likewise, from the point of view of a theory of sanity, any system or language should in structure be similar in structure to our nervous system. It is easily shown that the aristotelian system differs structurally from these minimal requirements ...."
It follows that for maximum usefulness a language should simultaneously be structurally similar to both the empirical world and our nervous system. The question arises whether the structure of the nervous system and the structure of the empirical world are the same. Similarly, are they even commensurable?
The phrase "It loses something in translation." is common and generally accepted.
The Aristotelian system, verbal language (in its multitudinous variations), graphics (drawings, sketches, diagrams, etc.), and mathematics are all language systems with their own structure. Conscious thought occurs utilizing these languages. Unconscious thought occurs in a language that is the structure of the mind. It is analogous to "machine language". To consciously think of something, the mind reorganizes “mental machine language” into one or more of the conscious languages. As with all translations, something is lost.
Increasing the number of languages available to the conscious mind and/or improving the ability to articulate within those languages improves the usefulness of conscious thought. When machine language is translated into conscious language "A" something is lost. When it is translated into conscious language "B" some is also lost, but the thing lost in "A" is in some ways different from the thing lost in "B". Thus multiple conscious languages allow manipulation of the the machine language thoughts with less total loss.
Conscious languages have the advantage of being a tool that can be used intentionally in a way that we cannot employ at the machine language level. At least this seems to be the case. There may be some sort of intentional unconscious process that I am not aware of. That intentional unconscious process may be something that is always lost in translation from machine language to conscious language.
Another advantage of conscious language is that it can be used to communicate with other people. Intentional conscious thought can be converted to voluntary actions of the body (speech, gestures, and so forth) that can be physically sensed by other people. These physical sensations can be recognized by the hearer as having patterns that have meaning.
The machine language of the hearer manipulates the sensations, finding patterns and associating them with other sensed patterns previously detected and remembered. This meaning is translated into a conscious language within the hearer.
Thus the unconscious thought of the speaker is translated within the speakers mind, from its machine language to conscious language "A". The speaker then physically manipulates his body in a manner appropriate to language "A". The hearer then experiences physical sensations. The patterns of these physical sensations are translated via machine language into conscious thoughts in the hearer's conscious language "A'". The hearer can then intentionally manipulate these thoughts. These thoughts can then be internalized (Note 1), translating them from A' to the hearers mental machine language. From the speaker's original “machine level thoughts”, to the hearer's “machine level thoughts” there are thus about 5 different translations. Something is lost in each translation. Through this process, the machine language thought of the speaker results in a machine language thought in the listener.
(Note 1) Internalization is strange. It is not "voluntary" as in the manipulation of conscious thought but one can (via learning exercises?) intentionally internalize the meaning on conscious language thoughts.
The map is not the territory but it is an analogy of the territory. A "word" is analogous to the object. A speaker's original thought in machine language is analogous to the resulting machine language thought in the listener.
An analogy is the setting of one thing alongside another. By listing the attributes of thing one that are also true of thing two, we say how they are alike. On the strength the observed similarities, heuristic inferences are made that some known attribute of thing one will also be found to be an attribute of thing two.
Conversely, by listing attributes of thing one that are not also true of thing two, we say they are different. In the same way, on the strength of observed dissimilarities, heueristic inferences can be made that some attribute of thing one will not be found as an attribute of thing two.
The speakers thought will be in some ways similar to the listeners thought and in other ways different. We can say that the differences are due to the cumulative losses in translation.
If the speaker then uses conscious language "B" to transmit the same machine language thought, and the listener uses his conscious language "B"" to interpret the thought into his machine language, we have created another analogous machine language thought.
M = mental machine language (unconscious)
Ss = Body manipulations creating sensible material conditions
Sh = Body sensations caused by sensible material conditions
A = Speakers Conscious language A (eg. English)
A' = Hearers Conscious Language A (eg. English)
B = Speakers Conscious language B (eg. German)
B' = Hearers Conscious Language B (eg. German)
M -> A -> Ssa --> Sha -> A' -> M'a
M -> B -> Ssb --> Shb -> B' -> M'b
M is analogous to A and to B.
The similarities and differences between M and A
are different than
the similarities and differences between M and B.
Using A as an analogy to B allows the speaker to examine the differences and similarities of A and B to critique the translation losses of M->A and the translation losses of M->B. The total losses due to translation are lowered.
The listener can use the result of the first instance M'a analogy to M'b. Using a similar critique of the similarities and differences between M'a and M'b the translation losses between the speaker and listener. This improved combined translation could be designated M'(a+b)
If we make an analogy of M to M'(a+b) we see that the resultant M'(a+b) will have similarities and differences with M. What heueristic inferences can be made regarding the understanding that one person has of another?