Application XX: Message theory

Why message theory? Instead, say, of “communication theory” – communication with message therein accommodated? Because communication, as an overstuffed concept often posturing as theory for its summary value, gets the credit, not just the blame, for message (and behavioral) success and failure.

“What we have here is a failure to communicate.” Uncounted “information campaign” flops. A lamented lack of “public understanding.” Uninformed voters and consumers. So goes the blame for communication. What of the undeserved credit?

Consider the diagram in App. XI, where the picture of history as contingent emergent materiality (CEM) shows communication together with cognition and composition, following on biology and preceding community. Communication, we have said, is the carbon of behavior, serving both minding and moving, in addition to and in resultant messages … and people connecting (blessedly only temporarily, usually) and/or step-to-step connecting (memory). Message can, as via composition, be that molecule to which communication and cognition contribute (App. III) – or at least they try to, as by using language technologies. But message is also about the Read and Tell of behavior without the benefit of language, .

Message is the message. The main message that is, speaking functionally): the point(s) of communicating. Message is not merely one of those items (“messages”), those particulars, that pass from behavioral entity to behavioral entity, in relationship with each other as “sender” and “receiver,” affording a familiar, but incomplete, picture of communication. To say that message only connects would be a gross underestimate of its consequentiality.

We need to invert this “transport” sense we have of communication and message. Message is no mere cargo in communication’s vehicle. Message is the driver (and passengers) with reasons to communicate: Points to make and/or get, to Tell and/or Read, to grasp and involve.

Community will need all that message, fully realized, , has to offer – not just communication’s contributions. It will need cognition’s (see, : Ideational mechanics) and composition’s configurative contributions too. To message is critical to human advancement, and in need of capability and technology development and of grounding in behavioral architecture – so as to be relevant before the fact as well as after the fact. Message, first of all, and like communication and many other behavioral terms, denotes needed functionality, with development of capability and technology to follow.

Message speaks to the fundamental functionality of any and every behavioral entity that can and does take more than one step in and of consequence, whose Nature of Things’ entailed minding may be assisted in a next step by an observation provided by a previous step (i.e., see memory as part of the functional requisite) … or by message from another behavioral entity.

The Nature of Things’ general persisting condition of partial order imposes the condition of incomplete instruction on behavioral entities. Pointing as needed functionality thus becomes precedent to the several points (e.g., AT, ABOUT, FOR, OF) that can be found in communicative procedural tools (App. VII), such as the language technologies common to our familiar, entity sense of message. But pointing involves cognition too, so message captures more of human consequentiality than communication alone (see and ).

By further realizing our sense of consequentiality, , we can now see that “message,” as a theoretical construct, not just as a concept (e.g., for all the particulars we class as messages), needs to be responsive to the Nature of Things and its demands on behavioral entities (us!). Like “memory” and “history” (See), “message” needs to be understood as if it were two nouns and two verbs — as if it were party to a more pragmatic (consequentiality-sensitive) grammar – as all behavioral terms might well be. (See, : “R[ealization] words.”)

If explicated as in the four stages of linguistic being, “message” now becomes these two nouns and these two verbs, each addressing pointing per se and/or some kind of point. We have called them first and second nouns and first and second verbs….

First noun: Message, and point per se, as needed functionality (Stage 1). Definitionally, this need suggests the “essence” of the term. Not so much the central tendency of a concept, however, but the theoretical basis and anchor in the Nature of Things. But its realization is incomplete – and we are thus not yet completely knowledgeable of its essence — in large part for lack of development.

First verb: (To) message, and point, as developed capability (Stage 2). Implies that different kinds of points (esp. pts. AT and ABOUT) can be and have been made – i.e., composed. (Stage 2, 3A: Making a step structure. Also see, ) Linguistically and definitionally: intransitive verb.

Second verb: (To) message as exercised capability to establish a (pointing) relationship with another behavioral entity, or with self later as in verbal memory (Stage 3B: Making a structure by taking a step). (See point FOR.) Linguistically and definitionally: transitive verb. (“Messaging,” as with other “-ing” terms, can be said to represent all three of first noun, first and second verb. But not to distinguish among them. It’s better than “messagation,” which – if we could stomach it – would cover and confound all four, second noun included.)

Second noun: Message as the composed structure (3A and/or 3B), whose comprised points may be viewed as functional aspects of that structure (Stage 4), as, for example, in viewing a message for its (instructive) points (esp. AT, FOR and ABOUT). This limited sense of functionality (“is as does”) is common (: Late-stage functionality). But it impedes further development of functionality (:S-P, IV) … and thus our consequentiality. As second noun, message may be a gross labeling for extended and packaged points (e.g., personal letter, report, speech), whose comprised points mayor may not go unexamined,*

While we may not come to invest in developing a new linguistic technology such as this – i.e., developing a linguistic architecture consistent with behavioral architecture, in a grammar more pragmatically responsive to needed functionality, there is an important point TO here. We have been much too engaged with particular messages and their particular points, with the second noun as our primary focus of attention, thereby failing to make the most of consequentiality (and ourselves). Along with decision making, this overemphasis is another contributor to “the other climate change”.

What, we should ask, could be more telling than a “What’s the point?” or a “Huh?” plaint (stage 1) in response to a message (stage 4): such as a message bereft of point – or one overloaded with points? (See: these are nonsingularities, reasons to stop while message reading.) There exists a great gap between the message problem and an available technological contribution to its solution. “Communication problem” does not come close in helping to specify needed functionality. What is telling is the frustrating experiences of those whose messages would instruct (e.g., in school, in commerce) and of those who would be instructed. What they commonly define as “communication problems” are, to be sure, problems, but they are problems in one crucial sense because they are seen as only communication problems. There’s more to pointing than is being realized, + Behavioral architecture would have us attend to, and develop the capabilities, , , , notably cognitive, communicative and compositional, with which to produce better-pointed messages.

Second-noun messages, like particular languages and some of transportation’s vehicles, were sometimes invented before all the principles germane to their construction and use were known. “Message,” in this limited sense, and just like “language” and “train,” is therein but a concept, based on particulars observed after the fact. Not the best course forward for developing pointing, as capability and technology, in accord with the Nature of Things.


Message per se then, like linguistic architecture, has never been appropriately realized, and thus not adequately invented. Particular messages and languages have been invented instead. The generality and foundation that the Nature of Things’ theoretical principles (Topics III, VI-XI) could bring to needed invention have been absent. The four stages of consequentiality bring behavior, via functionality, into the picture, helping to fulfill the developmental promise of the (Double Crystal’s) interdependency of body and step. Message theory adds more to the generality of the Nature of Things’ contribution, pointing out where still more of behavior has yet to be brought onto the scene via needed improvements in our message technology. (See G- vs. p- and B- vs. S- distinctions in III. Also see these distinctions as countering, along with the Nature of Things, the BPO bias of bodies, particulars and order of things.)

Message “known” primarily as the communicative condition (body of content) and particular connective entity lying between a sender and a receiver is very Stage 4… and deemed there as the property of the sender or the receiver — or of their medium according to McLuhan, making that his (Read) message. Message is thus treated linguistically just as a second noun#. The dictionary gives it neither intransitive nor transitive verb usages, nor first-noun usage either. But we need to have all of these for optimal message realization. And it may be a blessing that we do not yet have them in use. Because we do not have to start from where we are, … puzzling over definitional meanings (:Ps) instead of solving the (:S-P) problem of pointing.

(Consider and be grateful: We are not burdened with terms like “messagement,” “messagation,” “messagry,” “messagism,” “messagence” and other suffix fixes that collapse and confound the whole of the four stages of functionality [of the consequentiality in being and becoming] into a globby nominative concept – i.e., second noun.)

Message as a term does not carry the “-ion” burden that the concepts of communication and information labor under. (Rather, we should say, under which we all labor, but students especially, when confronted with the Read task of defining any “-ion” conceptual term.) We are free to develop message theory without the handicap of its having been given unwieldy conceptual duty. We can go about improving Tell capability and, by that, work to improve Read capability. We are free to declare “message “as needed functionality and its developed capability as both an intransitive and a transitive verb. And we should treat it as an “R-word”. No need to invoke “enmessage,” “messagize” or some other discomforting partial fix. So, well warned, let’s talk some more about message’s pointing functionality, about the making and use of messages.

We want to call attention to making messages as action and not just as act. To message is to bring together the pointing strengths of minding’s compositional capability, in both act and content. This is the frontier for humans as behavioral entities, in which the capabilities of cognition, communication, and composition need to be fully realized, first via theoretical constructs, and then via appropriate technology development – and not lost to the obfuscation of their “-ion” status as concepts.

Message technology development is about the Tell and Read of points. There are many points to message. Each point implies its own message. To message implies all possible points. Every message has at least two, often three or four … and even more when molecularly complex – i.e., configured compositionally as for a story. Even the simplest message act (e.g., a baby’s cry) makes a point OF and a point FOR (Tells: relevant now and relevant for me). (Because that act does not provide a point AT, then that actor becomes the default focus of attention to be Read – or not.) Later, with some acquired words and language, the child may supply points AT and ABOUT (action content). What are these (and other: e.g., point TO and point UP) message points realizing? Consequentiality.

  • Point OF: Consequentiality per se plus a particular consequentiality require focal attention now. See relevance.
  • Point FOR: There are particular consequences here for self, other(s) or both as behavioral entities.
    Point AT: A particular condition in and/or of consequence deserving of focal attention. See central aspect of sensory vision and sensery vision.
  • Point ABOUT: Cognized identity of and/or consequentiality re a point AT. Points ABOUT have this double duty, which may not be made evident in and by the language technology.
  • Point TO: A point AT singling out one condition from among others included in focal attention (e.g., as in responding to an identity question).
  • Point UP: Giving emphasis re consequentiality to another point or points (e.g., as by emotive Tells).
    (These all have first and second noun status as noun fractals. Points AT, UP, and TO are also, and more familiar as, verb fractals: point at, point up and point to.)
In considering message development possibilities, what we should emphasize is that all of consequentiality should be served by Read and Tell technology. This has not been the case. Communication technology has favored point AT. Point ABOUT has suffered cognitive neglect and, given its double duty, abuse. Needed point ABOUT capability and technology developments have not been realized. Not for lack of evolution (consider the plethora of tertiary Tells — and consequent tertiary Read problems!), but for lack of development. We employ points ABOUT more helpfully to identify conditions (point AT) than we do to become and be of consequence compositionally. If we do not develop a better point ABOUT architecture, as by improving cognition’s before-after relation, we are foreclosing on realization … mindlessly mind-binding, so to speak.

Two major communication advances are essentially point AT technologies: 1/ The naming/labelling of any condition (thing or thingk: so as to make it available to and for focal attention – i.e., communication’s objectifying capability; and 2/ The “Information Theory” digitalization (0,1) of communication content in order to enhance its efficient transmission.

Natural languages, considered as technologies, have a point AT tendency in objectifying and focusing attention on relationships after the fact rather than serving the consequentiality of relating and relations before the fact – i.e., cognitive and compositional capabilities and the architecture needed for community development (humanity’s frontier). Language, after and like naming as message technology, has fallen short of needed functionality.

We can continue to do patchwork on the languages we have, adding such items as thingks, noun fractals and R-words to the myriad of earlier language fixes. But something far more fundamental is needed. It’s not just that messages can and do fail to connect sender and receiver. They also fail to connect to what is being talked about and to what needs to be talked about: the Nature of Things and CEM-history being prime examples.

Message functionality comprises, from needed functionality through developmental realization, all of primary, secondary and tertiary Read and Tell capabilities, , not just those accommodated in part by the language technologies we have and/or by the non-linguistic attempts we make (e.g., a smile to suggest a point FOR). Further, the fundamental step making and taking interdependency of grasp and involve must be respected, lest our messages resist grasping and involving.

There’s a reason that stories seem to grab us. Tertiary Reads and Tells may attempt to expand our grasp and involve capabilities so as to handle messages comprising many points AT and ABOUT, such as messages regarding events (e.g., news accounts), histories (e.g., cultural myths) and knowledge structures (e.g., theories and mathematical models) — often to make a larger picture, sometimes even to attempt to grasp Everything. Stories, because they employ sequence, steps and outcomes, capture some of CEM’s contingency, emergence and materiality – i.e., of consequentiality. They may thus seem to explain … and apparently convey an advantage for stories over reports. (Especially for those desperate to rebut the force of the behavioral problem:Pbeh, ?) But stories can fall short for the capable tertiary Reader, especially on materiality (e.g., all that it takes:).

Drama may do better at grabbing us. It presents points, many points, in addition to what its plot qua story offers. There are emotions and moves made that invite – indeed, require – primary and tertiary Reads in order to make more of this message form. Boggs, in his work with EffectiveArts, uses drama to make evident the Attend-Tos (re relevant points) required of those who attempt to be helpful or helped. He has also used drama (and drama students) in the classroom to help students see (and faculty say!) what a concept is talking about (“UW On Cue”).


To appreciate what message, as needed functionality, and language, as a technological development to help realize it, imply … consider them in the anchoring context of CEM-history. Behavioral entities operating under the initial and persisting condition of partial order’s incomplete instruction are in continuing need of points for their step making and taking, points self-generated and/or via Reads. Message thus has an aft anchor.

Message has a fore anchor in community, whose needed functionality comprises the capabilities of communication, cognition and composition. Community’s demand on composition has been noted with respect to community’s dependence on composition for its origin and life as a behavioral entity. But community also makes a special demand on composition with respect to message. It asks for a presentation of points**, of all relevant points – and not ordered haphazardly. (“Get to the point!) Such presentations are often less than optimally realized. Communication accidents abound. Unintended consequences are rife. Some points are not made manifest (e.g., points FOR); some are presumed (e.g., points OF); some are not made well (e.g., the functional ambiguity of points ABOUT) … and the orchestration (e.g., linguistic presentation) more conventional than an optimally realized syntax. The last of these, the convention/realization imbalance, yields a basis for building communities whose foundations are more predicated on agreement than understanding.

That “community exists in and by communication” (Dewey) seems less than adequate if we carelessly ascribe needed message functionality solely to communication, to the neglect of message’s cognition and composition and the neglect of challenges in primary and tertiary, as well as secondary, Reads and Tells. (Recall, too, the Chapanis and Chapanis report in Scientific American that group problem solving appeared to work in spite of, rather than because of, communication.)

Polities and cultures, among other types of communities, with their statutes and memes, and with their autobiographical narratives, make evident the thematic – i.e., pointed and point-composed – message aspect of community functioning. Why are only physicians charged with, “First, do no harm”? Thematically-directed communities, engorged with storied self-serving messages, have time after time proved to be the nemesis of fellow humans (as well as other behavioral entities) and the bane of a more fully realized humanism and community, . Have we not got the point(s) of the Nature of Things? Are we missing some messages?


* Using the Signaled Stopping Technique (SST) on printed texts, to indicate point difficulties encountered while reading, almost half of research subjects would go all the way through and then go back through again to indicate stops for particular points made (e.g., to ask questions, to reread, to pause to think, to agree or disagree) or for points not made (e.g., uncertainty: a lack of singularity, the crux of pointing). Message qua second noun concept is so gross as to accommodate such texts … and, as with stories, to have established an expectation of a final and primary point to be reached as if all the points made were but to make a point. Enough so that rhetorical strategists suggest that, for persuasive Tell purposes, one begin by saying what you are going to say, then saying it, and finally saying what you have said. A full realization of point’s needed functionality is lacking. Much too much process consequentiality ore is going unmined between mere historical sequence and ahistorical logical causation. SST provides a means of supplementing the end-of-message criterion (e.g., content learned, attitude change, adoption of practice) by the within-message criteria of antecedent and consequent reasons to stop. See.

+ What are commonly seen as “communication problems,” such as misunderstandings and lacks of understanding, are better seen as message problems. Even if, as Kendrick’s doctoral dissertation chronicles, the materiality of pointing is apparent in speaking of communication problems, it is not just a matter of the language – in its entity-biased particulars — we have (e.g., Chomsky) and of the way we use it (e.g., Searle). It is also – and critically — a matter of the language we don’t have … in light of needed functionality, , , .

# Message, now used only as a second noun, is incompletely realized. Unlike many other terms (e.g., “act”) English language does not give it verb as well as noun form. The reason? An apparent lack of appreciation of consequentiality and needed functionality. It would seem that English has, so to speak, given us de facto, but only partial, realization of the Double Crystal nature of behavioral entities, : that all entities are behavioral – i.e., possessed of both body and step structure. (In acknowledgement that the world of language must represent the Nature of Things’ [very consequential] World of Possibility?) Further obscuring the realization of message, English gives it, in its second noun usage, an adjectival role also (e.g., “message center”), thereby producing a double concept of two incompletely realized terms. As with any such double concept – e.g., “public opinion”, definition and/or explication procedures are going to find the undertaking very taxing unless they retreat to definition by mere example (e.g., what polls show). Neither term, qua concept, has been fully explicated, nor has their interdependence potential been developed.

** “Communication content” is a very misleading concept. It pertains to, but obscures, message content, which is all of cognition, communication and composition – with more than a touch of community involved (see B.F. Skinner on language). Consider: Communication’s content contribution, symbolic representation, utilizes only the “=” relation from among cognition’s basic repertoire of “=, =/=, before-after, and inside-outside” relations. (Note the simplistic view of communication as encoding and decoding.) The asymmetric aspect of the other cognitive relations provides additional “informative” points ABOUT. “4C content,” rather than “communication content,” would be more accurate because messages may also be orchestrated to make a point (e.g., stories, drama) and/or to involve particular circumstances to help convey a point (e.g. “You had better sit down”). Further involving community here, given the enormity of its needed functionality to become a productive behavioral entity, would bring more than usage agreements into the message picture. Perhaps something of a common sense about our need for a more realized message functionality. A “4C content” perspective could lend itself to a more productive approach to message development.

(c) 2013 R.F. Carter

  1. App. XI: History: Contingent emergent materiality
  2. App. III: Communication and Cognition
  3. C-106. Cognition, communication and language
  4. App. IV: Education
  5. C-8. Tertiary reads and tells
  6. App. XIX: P=>S mapping: The needs of minding (BFPS)
  7. C-88. Four stages of linguistic being
  8. C-105. Biology and beyond (BFEPS)
  9. App. XIX: P=>S mapping: The needs of minding (BFPS)
  10. C-81. Theoretical definition
  11. Topic VII: Functional Requisite
  12. Topic X: Construction Imperative
  13. C-90. Behavioral architecture
  14. Topic V: Behavioral Manifold
  15. App. XIX: P=>S mapping: The needs of minding (BFPS)
  16. Topic VII: Functional Requisite
  17. Topic III: The Nature of Things
  18. App. VII: Technology
  19. App. III: Communication and Cognition
  20. C-60. Three (maybe four) signal behavioral events
  21. App. XIX: P=>S mapping: The needs of minding (BFPS)
  22. C-96. Presence and Performance
  23. C-100. Let’s history
  24. C-103. Relevance
  25. C-107. The 4th “R”
  26. C-88. Four stages of linguistic being
  27. C-103. Relevance
  28. C-22. Anchored concepts
  29. C-96. Presence and Performance
  30. C-99. A measure of Presence
  31. C-97. Late-stage functionality
  32. Topics: Introduction - Quality of Life
  33. Application XIV: Words’ work
  34. C-90. Behavioral architecture
  35. C-98. That other climate change
  36. Topic VIII: Singularity Requisite
  37. C-48. Our language investment
  38. C-55. A Wittgenstein corollary
  39. C-90. Behavioral architecture
  40. Topic V: Behavioral Manifold
  41. Topic X: Construction Imperative
  42. App. XII: The future of history: CEM-HAS (BFPS)
  43. App. XVI: At work in the frontier
  44. Topic III: The Nature of Things
  45. C-104. The SGN correction
  46. C-39. Language and the BPO bias
  47. App. XIX: P=>S mapping: The needs of minding (BFPS)
  48. C-88. Four stages of linguistic being
  49. C-18. Lost: the Vermont farmer
  50. C-58. Getting turned around
  51. Topics: Introduction - Quality of Life
  52. Topics: Introduction - Quality of Life
  53. App. XII: The future of history: CEM-HAS (BFPS)
  54. C-81. Theoretical definition
  55. C-85. Theoretical explication
  56. C-103. Relevance
  57. C-96. Presence and Performance
  58. C-40. A new (linguistic) particle?
  59. Topic X: Construction Imperative
  60. C-27. The thing about a thingk
  61. C-33. Information
  62. App. IV: Education
  63. C-8. Tertiary reads and tells
  64. C-105. Biology and beyond (BFEPS)
  65. C-8. Tertiary reads and tells
  66. Topic I: Two problems, two solutions
  67. C-41. Another fundamental force: Pbeh
  68. Topic II: All That It Takes (ATIT)
  69. App. IX: EHAC & Operating System Development
  70. Topic XI: Balance Requisite
  71. App. VIII: Humanism and HAS
  72. App. XVI: At work in the frontier
  73. C-16. Process consequentiality
  74. C-58. Getting turned around
  75. C-39. Language and the BPO bias
  76. Application XIV: Words’ work
  77. App. XIX: P=>S mapping: The needs of minding (BFPS)
  78. C-48. Our language investment
  79. C-55. A Wittgenstein corollary
  80. Topic III: The Nature of Things
  81. Application XIV: Words’ work
  82. C-25. Public opinion
  83. C-81. Theoretical definition
  84. C-71. Balance requisite extended