Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Abstractions

Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Abstractions

Article excerpt

Awareness of abstraction would reduce the number of "why?" questions and
"because" answers. Or it would at least make us realize that when we are
dealing with whys and becauses we are dealing with interpretations,
projections, and opinions and not with bare facts.
J. SAMUEL BOIS, THE ART OF AWARENESS

What does a scientist do with a theory? Memorize it? Defend it? Form a
cult around it? By no means. He uses it for a very specific purpose. He
uses it as a source of questions, new questions that have never before
been asked by anyone. And he uses the questions to direct himself and
others to new observations that have never before been made by anyone.
In this way he gains new knowledge, new answers, new theories that have
never before been imagined by anyone. And from the new theories come
more questions, and thus new answers, in a never-ending process. Science
is a perpetual frontier.
WENDELL JOHNSON, PEOPLE IN QUANDARIES

No matter which factors we choose as causes, the important point to
remember is that we do the choosing. We are forced to abstract because
we cannot deal with the tremendous numbers of factors involved in even
the simplest phenomenon. The vital question in any instant is: Does this
particular selection of causes enable me to function effectively in this
situation? And effectiveness will be measured by such matters as
predictability, simplicity, ease of decision-making, verifiability,
relief of tension, and the like, depending on the problem-solving
situation. … 
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