Organizing Knowledge
1999-2004 by Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.

This is a working draft and is subject to change.
Last revised 04/02/12 at 14:28

Distinguishing in general - Distinguish without substance, or pure distinguishing, is formally described by Laws of Form .  Distinguishing with substance - territory - provides a way of organizing our understanding of the territory in question.  It is important to remember that this is a " map making " activity, and that we are actually building cognitive maps and describing the map so constructed with our formulations.

Distinctions will be made "vertically" and "horizontally".  Vertical distinctions will be between levels.  Horizontal distinctions will be within a level.  Distinguishing within a level establishes a level distinct from not distinguishing within the level.  The undistinguished level is said to be more abstract or at a higher level of abstraction than the distinguished level.  The distinguished level is said to be more objective or at a lower level of abstraction.  Distinctions will also be made "temporally".  Temporal distinctions will be between times - time 1 , time 2 , etc.  We presume that the substance to be distinguished is dynamic, that is, it changes from time to time.  "Organism in the environment as a whole", undistinguished, is without structure.  Moving down a level of abstraction by distinguishing between the organism and its environment creates structure within the more objective level.  Conversely, moving up a level of abstraction by not distinguishing abstracts a more general level.

  1. The first level distinguishes organism from environment. - 1/0, O/E, o/e,
  2. Second level distinctions include:

With this much structure we can define the notion of "change".

Notion:  A change is two (different) distinctions in structure associated with a distinction in time together with an "identification" between distinguished structures from time 1 to time 2 .

Formulation:  We identify level 1 distinguished into level 2 structure 1 and structure 2 at time 1 with level 1 distinguished into level 2 structure 3 and structure 4 at time 2 .  Structure 3 is said to "be" structure 1 changed and structure 4 is said to "be" structure 2 changed.  Structure 1 is identified with structure 3 , and Structure 2 is identified with structure 4

Example: For this example let us define structure 1 and structure 2 as figure 1 and background 1 and structure 3 and structure 4 as figure 2 and background 2 .  We "identify" figure 1 with figure 2 (and background 1 with background 2 ).   By ignoring the temporal distinction, we abstract to "figure" and "background".  When figure 1 is different from figure 2 (and conversely, background 1 is different from background 2 ), we say that the figure has changed (from time 1 to time 2 ) (against a correspondingly changed background).

Application: Let level 1 at time 1 be an organism distinguished into figure 1 - a detector in the "off" or "no" state, and background 1 - the remainder of the organism, and level 1 at time 2 be an organism distinguished into figure 2 - a detector in the "on" or "yes" state, and background 2 - the remainder of the organism.  We identify the detector at time 1 in the "off" or "no" with the detector at time 2 in the "on"' or "yes" state.  We say that the detector has changed or that the organism detected whatever it is that the detector detects.  Normally, we associate a "detector" with something detected.  In this case we will need to make a parallel set of structural and temporal distinctions in either the environment or the organism, depending upon whether we want to talk about an external or an internal detector.  To make things relatively simple, let us say that a distinction in structure is associated with a distinction in time; call the structure level 1 environment distinguished into level 2 no food and food and the distinction in time the "same" as the temporal distinction associated with the organism and its detector. By associating the detector in the off or no state with no food structure, and the detector in the on or yes state with food structure, we are establishing a relation between the environment and the organism where the organism's detector "maps" the environment state - absence or presence of food.

These structural elements and relations comprise the minimal structure needed in order to formulate the notion of a map.  In this case a simple organism representing the presence of food in the environment with a simple yes/no detector.  With the detector in the on or yes state, we say that the organism is "aware" of the presence of food.  The mechanism is a simple detector that "changes" state in response to the presence or absence of food.  Food presence is "represented" by the detector response.  Typically, the detector's state is "caused" by a chemical reaction with the food.

In order to develop the notion of an effector, we need additional distinctions.  At time 1 we distinguish environment 1 into environment 1a and (unconsumed) food 1a .   At time 2 we distinguish organism 2 into organism 2b and (consumed) food 2b .  We identify food 1a with food 2b .  We say the organism has changed by consuming the food, and the environment has change by being depleted of food.  While the process undoubtedly occurs gradually, for the minimal structure of our formulation we only need the binary distinctions illustrated here.  Think of something like a Venus fly trap.  First the food is outside the open trap, and then the food is inside the closed trap.  This formulation describes what we would normally think of as the result of the effector.  For the practical purpose of living, it is the results that count.  In some cases the turned on state of the sensor is essentially the same as the corresponding effector response.  An example of this is a micro-pore in a semi-permeable membrane.  The presence of the proper molecule interacts with the membrane chemistry, changing its geometry, resulting in the pore opening.  The very act of sensing the molecule opens the pore.  Hemoglobin interacts with oxygen by closing around it like a clamshell.  The detection process and the effector process are one and the same process that traps the detected oxygen (a reversible process that gives up the oxygen to cells).  The distinction pattern matches that given before.  Once again we can describe the organism as having changed (by the addition of the food) and the environment having changed (by the loss of the food); however, is this case, we are also introducing an additional distinction in structure - between food and that which is not food. That which is not food is, in both times, distinguished between organism and environment.  In the first time, the environment separates the food from the organism; in the second time, the organism separates the food from the environment.  Think about it... first the food is in the environment, and then it is in the organism - as a result of an action taken by the organism in response to its detector.

The notion of a sensor and of an effector have both been formulated by making simple distinctions in structure, and by identifying different structures between times. Three distinctions in structure and one distinction in time are required to illustrate either a sensor and the idea of mapping or an effector and the idea of consumption.  Two of these structural distinctions are common to both, consequently, the combined notion of an organism with a sensor and an effector requires four distinctions in structure and one in time as its minimum requirements.

To review:

  1. Organism distinguished at time 1 into inactive detector and remainder and at time 2 into active detector and remainder.
  2. Environment distinguished from time 1 to time 2 .
  3. Environment distinguished at time 1 into food and non-food, and organism at time 2 distinguished into food and non-food.
  4. Identifications between time 1 and time 2 of all corresponding structures.
  5. Association between environment distinctions and detector distinctions.
  6. Association between environment distinctions and effector distinctions.

Knowledge is organized by distinguishing horizontally, vertically, and temporally, and by making identifications between the distinguished structures over time.  At the simplest level, an organism will be said to be aware of something just in case it has a sensor identified with a distinction in its environment, that sensor is in its active state, and a related effector is also active.

The combination of a detector and an effector permits us to get to the level of a transaction.  A transaction is a sequence of changes involving a sensor or an effector.  Sensing food followed by consuming it, consuming food followed by not sensing it in the environment, etc., are examples of simple transactions.  If we distinguish the environment into another organisms, then a series of transactions by both organisms can be described as, or interpreted to be, transactions between the two organisms. First we need to add many more senses and increase the structure of the simple ones, in each case by adding distinctions.

  1. No distinctions.
  2. distinguish organism from environment
  3. distinguish
    1. within organism
      1. sensors
        1. internal
          1. Proprioceptive
          2. Entrioceptive
        2. external
          1. Sight
          2. Hearing
          3. Touch
          4. Smell
          5. Taste
      2. learning - map building
        1.  knowledge
        2. experience
        3. education
      3. effectors
        1. internal
          1. emotions
        2. external
    2. within environments
      1. food
      2. hazards
      3. others
        1. gender
          1. asexual
          2. sexual
            1. male
            2. female
          3. bisexual
        2. potential mates
          1. bonding
          2. sex
          3. reproduction
        3. competitors
        4. cooperation
      4. shelter
      5. predators
  4. between times

(entering construction area)

This page was updated by Ralph Kenyon on 2009/11/16 at 21:33 and has been accessed 18474 times at 88 hits per month.