C-39. Language and the BPO bias

That the BPO bias is so firmly embodied in languages is good news as well as bad news. This because when we look to do something about the incompleteness and inaccuracy of our understanding of the Nature of Things, about the neglect of behavior’s step making and taking, about the general persisting conditions of partial order, consequentiality and discontinuity as qualities of the Nature of Things, language may be able to give us the leverage we need to accomplish what Kuhn calls a paradigm shift.

A paradigm shift, he says, can occur when enough exceptions appear to a prevailing paradigm to necessitate its replacement or reformulation (e.g., a new theory might subsume what is valuable from the old paradigm and add to it within the new framework).

Making those exceptions evident, and then accepted, is the challenge. Adherents to the old paradigm resist. It has served a purpose after all – not the least of which has been solving an appreciable part of one’s behavioral problem (I:Pbeh) by its adoption as a guide.

But observations of new conditions of consequence, which may add to or modify or bring into question the old paradigm, can become persuasive. As they add up it becomes more and more difficult to set them aside, to defend one’s continued endorsement of the old paradigm. But old paradigms die hard. Evidence may not be accepted for years (e.g., tectonic plate movements).

The BPO paradigmatic bias (the bias is so strong as to be paradigmatic) is going to be very difficult to change, even though our aim is primarily to add to its completeness. Consider, for example, that modern communication technology takes particularness to new depths by encoding anything and everything into “bits.”

How is that languages can help us here? Because needed and innovative adjustments to them can make consequential evidence harder to ignore or dismiss. Like a pebble in one’s shoe….

Such is the argument for the new words and notational innovations used here in BFPS. Thingks, for example (X; C-27), to help bring out the processes and productivity of communication and cognition as developed capabilities. The use of B- and S- prefixes and of G- and p- prefixes to indicate different implications/meanings for words pertaining to bodies and steps, to generality (the fact of) and particularity (instance of).

Improved functionality, which is to say added behavioral capability, has also necessitated in BFPS the distinction in usage between relation (the cognitive and communicative contribution to composing) and relationship (the compositional product). Our usage of cognizing as a relating process in our minding capability repertoire is also unique to our functional concerns. When we see the poor provision languages have made for cognition’s before-after relation (unlike its inside-outside relation, which furthers the BPO bias so readily) such that process consequentiality is casually treated as cause-effect (confounding relation and relationship), then the need for a better way of talking about behavior becomes more evident and urgent.

And there is more sand in the shoe….

Linguistic anomalies, such as irregular verbs, can irritate the dominant paradigm. (C-40 reports a new anomaly.) Word definition and “correct usage” are continuing irritants. So is translation between languages. (Wouldn’t it be helpful if each natural language were translatable to a more functional core language? So we wouldn’t have to translate each to each of the others? So that there would be a shared basis for introducing functional improvements to and in each?)

Every condition, any difference or similarity – non-oneness or oneness – that makes a difference needs expression. Whenever and wherever we find consequentiality there is a case for linguistic innovation, such as the use of glyphs to supplement written/printed language. (See Cognigraphics, for example, as a dual “make and/or measure” method for giving expression to cognitive relations [C-15].) This to give cognition the expression that “smilies” give emotional states.

Re-punctuation is another kind of potential language innovation. The signaled stopping research tool follows this line. When written or printed language is shared with someone, the receiver can insert stop signs (slashes) to indicate functional relevance, such as the need to ask a question, to agree or disagree (with the content and/or the sender), to pause to reread or think, etc. The presumptive unit establishment of the sender (e.g., periods) is brought into question. Joint usage of a language tends to sharpen its blade.

The Nature of Things is never out of sight. But the BPO bias has pretty well kept it out of our minds. A paradigm shift in favor of the Nature of Things, its generalities and its concern for behavior may be a long time coming, but we can hope and strive for that coming. And events may assist, not happily perhaps but effectively. Human over-population, diminishing resources and environmental degradation are headed our way.

The faster we pull the plug on the BPO bias the better off we will be.

(c) 2012 R. F. Carter