C-32. Not in the grasp?

If there is anything that we understand about throwing a ball, leading a dance partner, working with carpentry tools – the list here is long indeed … what we understand, or must soon come to understand, is that a good grasp is required if we want to successfully involve something or someone. (The hand’s firm grip is not alone in the history of human advances in grasping [VII].)

Which brings us back to the usefulness of concepts. The difficulties of definition and explication entailed by concepts demonstrate that they, as grasping agents, do not give us a good enough grasp of what is being talked about and/or what is being said about it.

Neither the boundary nor the centrality (essence?) of the concept is readily established. So we have great difficulty then too in grasping them in order to involve them in solving our problems, whether the fundamental behavioral problem or situational problems (I), whether intellectual problems (e.g., to involve them in theory construction) or more quotidian problems (e.g., to engage them and/or us in a productive relationship).

Our way further forward, it seems, can only be to strengthen our grasp in a way that compensates for and corrects the incompleteness and inaccuracies of concepts as we try to use them as tools. Maybe the way to make them stronger is by making ourselves stronger with a new, improved tool: a theoretical role and place instead of just invoking a “causal string” (MacLeod’s “clothesline”) to hang them on?

We can’t all be philosophers* – if that is what it would take. And we can’t take the time and effort to mine, mill, and extract the metal from the low-grade ore of each and every concept. (Although several are offered that treatment for illustration as we proceed.) The possibility does exist that a better theory of humanity’s place in the Nature of Things could have a powerful extractive, clarifying force – but only as an adjunct to the principled understanding it would provide of what we are talking about and of the problems we need to be solving. It’s too easy to get off-course from problem solving, tramping down literature-worn trails of searching for correlations between concepts in the quest and questioning of the order of things (XII).

Some concepts desperately need harsh analytic treatment, however, because that which is being talked about and said, for better or worse, would, if fully and accurately analyzed, yield units (see C-11: control foci) of material value (IN and OF consequence) for our compositional work in producing solutions. Nowhere is that grasping capability more needed than with respect to the structure, before and after the fact, of the processes involved in handling the behavioral problem (I: Pbeh).

Concepts and the particulars they engage offer endless occupation. But the current productivity value of concepts is low and the problems they sow but don’t solve are many.

* We are, however, all composers and performers, more or less, better or worse.

(c) 2011 R. F. Carter