Archive for May, 2010

I believe that western culture has been damaged while many American’s have been caught up in a stream of what I can only characterize as insincere thought.  For if the thoughts of people were true and sincere we most certainly would not be facing what appears to be one man-made crises after another.  We would not be struggling with extant experience punctuated by greed, deceit and insincerity at the power centers of modern life in the western world: government, banking and big business. The trappings of reward and/or power have replaced culture as the thing to be achieved, the main objective or the goal to be reached. Patricians of the west tend to go more for the brass ring than the ring of truth.

I would wager that when asked, most Americans would not know how to tell a sincere thought from an insincere one or how to check the sincerity of their own thoughts. They cannot even recognize and certainly not articulate the objects of their own thoughts.  In my view, that about sums up the breadth and depth of the problem we face.  The cultivation of the person in any culture is an organic matter you see.  Many of our concepts are cultivated over generations and validated in the plurality of implications over the range of the experience of many people and their lifetimes, let alone during one’s own lifetime.  Yet, we invigorate our words with so-called new meaning until they are laden heavy and weighted down by the dominating dogma.  Significant words like semantics and ontology, even knowledge and truth can no longer be used in precise ways without extensive explanation and context.

In addition, people seem no longer willing to spend time tending to what may matter most of all –being sincere of thought. Without realizing, they pay dearly for the privilege of that choice, for from unchecked and insincere thoughts sprout only erroneous actions, wasteful efforts and deflected, or at the very least, miss-directed energy.  Moreover, due to the pressures exerted by large, dispersed and sophisticated societies, I believe we are entering and era when a person will no longer be able to perceive the difference between the true thought and any other sort of thought, whether in error or not.  No concept will escape.  Therefore I would like to help once again introduce people to the illustrious virtue –the notable merit– of sincere thought and the means to achieve it.

While planning my own book with a working title of “An Anatomy of Thought”, I read the 2003 book of the same title by the very respected and accomplished British biologist and physiologist Ian Glynn in which he wrote about the multiple meanings of the word mind and the difficulty of fixing the subject.

Glynn’s main subject and subtitle is: The Origin and Machinery of the Mind, where he focused on the evolution of the brain, the nervous system and the physiology of the body. The focus of my own work is the sufficiency and necessity of the sincerity or fidelity of thought and its symbolic representations, to extant and personal experience.

Many people believe that modern human disposition and worldview or range of thought has been cultivated from the symbolism of language, and to some extent it has, though language competency does not necessarily make people better or more sincere thinkers.  In fact, it can be found that more sincere thinkers have more competency in language.  Consequently, an entire field of computing is dedicated to language with the objective of understanding it.

For the last thirty years, software for parsing, translating and categorizing words, building dictionaries, identifying names from other parts of speech, along with spelling and grammar aids, has been developed, yet; except for software developed by Adi and I, (1985-2005) there is no software for functionally mapping a single disposition of the human mind or for measuring its fidelity and salience. Instead of understanding a single disposition of the human mind, the trend has been towards aggregations and statistical analysis of large data sets comprised of parallel text or dictionaries.

Glynn relates how hard the meaning or contents of a state of mind is to determine when he writes about the multiple meanings of the simple word: mind.  He writes that we can mind the dog and mind the baby and notes that minding dogs and babies are different activities.  We can go out of our mind, bring something to mind and be mindful of our manners. We might or might not mind whether he has it correct or not.  He might have been as easily referring to any word or phrase of any language, let alone mind,  in this statement at the bottom of page 3 of the preface of his book:

Confusion is perhaps the single reason why current efforts to achieve artificial intelligence cannot be successful.  All the prestigious players –those in government, commercial and in circles between– are caught up in a historical tide of ingenuity based not upon the merit or the pursuit of sincere thought, or on the greater good of the culture, but upon personal reward and the pursuit of power or control over the drudgery, dullness and insincerity of extant and mundane experience.  After all, it is the easy thing to do.

The main trouble is that computational or artificial approaches, including pattern matching and data mining of linguistic or textual information, that work with so-called natural language processing, vocabularies and a set of rules or rule-base –whether process or reward driven– cannot possibly make correct interpretations of facts when such correctness is essential.  They look good –or good enough– to the masses and that alone is the signal of fatality. When tested, they often break or a given process  breaks-down. This is well known.

They break because the conventions shared between those conversing machines (that many envision) do not require that their representations be sincere. In fact, programmers do not care and business executives do not want to know.  That is, the data in the machine needn’t be based in fact or on correct interpretations of a fact.  Moreover, there is no means to check whether an asserted fact is true, nor is there any ideal for comparison.  There are logical conditions of truth and consistency but these are insufficient determinants of the necessary fidelity or sincerity of the true judgment.

Since the 1950s the computing and software arts have taken off. Today, many of us cannot imagine life without computers.  But if we look at the history of the development of the computer industry, we find that corporations took care in the early days to make data entry correct and complete in all respects. The reason for this is because they knew that once incorrect or inconsistent data crept into the system the information that is output from computing the data would become corrupt and useless.

Now that we live in the Internet age of 2010, computing has become pervasive and we have everyone, even children, creating web sites and posting their knowledge, opinions, assertions, assumptions and all manner of information, on the Internet and in social networks.  Now that people believe that the massive amounts of data will bring new intelligence and new knowledge –who is checking for consistency or completeness or sincerity (wikipedia being a notable example and an exception to the norm)?  The question is then: what means are available to the common man to obtain fidelity, moreover; check their own language or that of others, or to test for sincere thoughts and ideas? There is a missing foundation.

The English Philosopher Roger Bacon (whose date of birth is established upon his statement in the Opus Tertium, written in 1267, that “forty years have passed since I first learned the alphabet”) upon observing that all languages are built upon a common grammar, stated that they share a foundation of ontically anchored linguistic structures.

While the Franciscan friar and empiricist lectured on Aristole and was certainly acquainted with Arab and Jewish commentaors on Aristotle, he did not manage to find or point out any ontic foundation (a foundation for the way things are or for the way extant relationships work).  It was not until Tom Adi came along in 1982 that we began to obtain the means to test our interpretations, to compare them with the facts and against the plurality of their implications.

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