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Spring Points

  formal tropology: conceptual philology
gary e. davis
June 2020
The agenda of the previous section could be pursued with interest in tight well-formedness, yet the centripetal appeal of doing that would finally open into a sense of ultimacy that is, so to speak, Openness in Itself, while constructive depths of transitioning from tropical conceptualization to mathematical fundamentals of manifold dynamics (not mere structural manifold)—bridging quantum gravita-tional mysteries with genomic regulatory mysteries? (which seems altogether absurd)—could only be discourse whose conceptuality implicates its own evolu-tionarity.

So, more overt focus on conceptuality as such—detached from any interest that evinces its common relevance—has no valid implicature of primordial engage-ment beyond the discernible primordiality of one’s interest. “By default: concepts are accessed in a context-independent manner” (Conceptual Mind, ch. 20) while “access” is by and from lifeworldly engagements. An abstracted consideration of concepts is easily self-undermining (self-concealing). Topology of conceptuality is individuationally lifeworldly—which also pertains to large-scale literatures con-vened into telic cohering, such as pursuing the “nature” of gardening scientificity.

Bring on the “Wild systems theory as a 21st century coherence approach for cognitive science” (Open MIND: philosophy and the mind sciences in the 21st century, 2016, v.1, p 807ff).

Does “Conceptual innovation on the frontiers of science” (Conceptual Mind, ch. 16) conceal the reality of paradigmicity’s incapability to account for one’s potent-ial to frame that paradigmicity (i.e., to work trans-paradigmatically)? Conceptual-izing the dynamic potential for that can be as elusive as the constitutivity of Gödel’s Theorem by individuated capability for formal-logical invention. (I could say “axiological” invention, if that wasn’t already an awful name for theory of value.)

There’s no real “ont-“ to ontology, just scalable continua of interests that can be comprehended and drawn into pretenses of comprehensive comprehension.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of the “combining form” ‘ont-‘ puts its ordinary, lexically-ambivalent colon at “1 being : existence,” which misleads by its classi-cally definite simplicity, a reciprocal “as”: being of existence as existence of being. And how about “2 individual living thing : living organism”? Is the “thing” that’s alive the same as an organism? Either way (objectified or not), the ont- is
not just living; it’s individual.

The fun superficiality there mirrors ordinary conceptual ambivalence, which is as lifeworldly (in its un-individuated proximality) as is my highly individuated con-tinuum of prospective narrating, from lifeworldliness as such through intimations of scientific artistry brought into a centripetal appeal of ultimate cohering (which, again, could be pursued for the sake of rigorous well-formedness).

The classical “onticness” of ontology is a precious, enablative conceptual ideology of evolving mentability that became concealed mythology to philosophical history longing to stay queen of sciences.

Yet, studying concepts as such can be immensely useful, but implies the continu-ing question: for what use? What’s wanted with rigorous formality’s clarity?

I would enjoy dwelling with “What is conceptual understanding” (Articulating the World: conceptual understanding and the scientific image, 2015, ch. 2). There can be good pragmatic reason to inquire into “Principles of categorization” (Concepts: core readings, 1999 ch. 8) or Peacocke’s “Précis of A Study of Concepts” (ibid., ch. 14) or “possession conditions [of] concepts?” (ch. 16). Precisely: What do we want to do? (Here’s a fun thing that turned up this week: Singular Thought and Mental Files.)

Hilary Putnam began his career as a philosopher of mathematics, transitioned to Reality with a Human Face, and ended still rightly questioning realist pretenses of naturalism because, a least, the reality of concepts just is one’s conceptions of reality.

There are many resources I could annotate now about conceptuality as capability, as prototypical (tropical? algorithmic?), and as linguistic (which is essentially tropical, not begenically constitutive).

As, as, as…”Is” conceals the phenomenality of there being X as always “X” (framed, stanced, enacted).

I’ll end with some supplementary notes I made (slightly amplified for readability) when I opened Ruth Garrett Millikan’s 2017 Beyond Concepts: unicepts, langu-age, and natural information, wondering weeks ago whether or not to annotate it here. (Actually, my Part 3 has turned out to be annotative toward everyone else, not to be dismissive! It’s a matter of sharing prospective contexts for later dwell-ing, relative to emergent occasions.)

The technicality of the following reflects the technicality of Millikan’s project, which is typical of cognitivist philosophy. I’m inviting myself into her venture (relative to the first few pages of her synoptic first chapter, no ordinary introduc-tory chapter, written to colleagues, not a general reader), but I’m not going far. “Spring Points” is circumspective about others’ work for the sake of future prospecting.


“…[T]he main strength of all [these themes],” she says early in her introductory, synoptic chapter, “lies in how they support one another” (p. 3). That’s a person-ification of conceptions, as if intentionality is immanent, though merely mirroring what’s to be done with those themes by her. It’s a personified mutuality of themes through discourse.

“What the world is like prior to cognition” (BC jacket back) is, contrary to Milli-kan, “the” world of a life, across modes of mentability (cognative, affective, conative, and cognitive irt all modes of intelligence).

“The nature of cognition within that world” doesn’t basically “reflect the rest of nature”; cognition of mind articulates nature relative to evolving, interdomainal interests, exemplified by manifold discursive formations (valulogical and scien-tific). “Trying to get from ontology to cognition” is mythical, because primordial conceptuality expresses evolving interdomainity, in terms of inquiries’ most comprehensively conceptual prospecting. Getting from primordial conceptuality (of evolving interdomainal interests) to cognition is derivative of scientific interests.

“The transmission of information both through natural signs” (primal begeny of generative mentability) “and through purposeful signs” (Self-articulative inter-ests) is certainly “including language.” So, relatively, “to recognize the same again as manifested through the jargon of experience” is to stabilize phenomenality as “having” self-differentiated integrity (of proper other [individuality of the same] and “world” apart from Self: inworldness). In light of begenically granted [same] others and [same] things [as if] bearing themselves, we individuate that which may be theorized as [Millikan’s upcoming foci]:

  • “a direct reference theory for common nouns”
  • “a naturalist sketch of conceptual development”
  • “a theory of natural information”
  • “a theory of language function”
  • “a description of the semantics/pragmatics distinction”
  • a theory of “perception as translation from natural informational signs”
  • “descriptions of indexicals, demonstratives, and intentional contexts”
  • an “analysis of the reference of incomplete descriptions”

Millikan’s distinction between “informational” and “intentional” signs (p. 4 top) seems to be isomorphic with the difference between receptive phenomenality (granting) and responsive phenomenality (bearing), which has its correlate of other-granting (mirroring) and other-bearing (windowing).

She’s employing a theory of intelligent selection (4-mid-5-bot) that seems to be
at heart a theory of value (albeit biologicist).

Millikan’s notion of an “affordance” (8-mid) seems to be a capability (cf. Nussbaum) like Philippa Foot’s “natural norm.” Here, she’s depending on a notion that has been rigorously defined in other work by her (as she indicates: 6-top-mid), but altogether provides contemporary backup for Foot’s approach to natural goodness, which could be posed as a specifically valulogical extension of Millikan’s evidently biologicist valulogy mapped into cultural evolution by Millikan.

A “unitracker” (7-mid) seens to be a phenomenal individuation capability (“same”ing of temporal moment) that results in a “unicept” (7-bot) of the phenomenality as individual item across moments (the same phenomenality
in temporal experinece). I get the feeling (8-mid-bot) that Beyond Concepts
is model-theorizing a cognitive baseline for artifical intelligence modeling.

next—> epilogue



  Be fair. © 2020, gary e. davis